Five months after Laura Reed's husband Jimmy is shot dead by an intruder, and eight days after Laura's whirlwind courtship ends in marriage to physicist/adventurer Ian Turner, the death of a contract killer hundreds of miles away suddenly persuades the Cape Christian, New Jersey, police to arrest Laura for hiring Jimmy dead. The cops, led by snide Det. Ron Leonard, aren't moved by Laura's reputation as a children's book author, or by her kinship to such mommies-in-distress as Karen Newhall in Mother's Day (1994)or by the plethora of alternative suspects hiding sinister secrets. There's everyone from the shaken bridegroom to Laura's possessive mother-in-law, Dolores Reed; Richard Walsh, partner in Jimmy's art gallery; Richard's catty, grasping wife, Candy; Laura's devoted friend Gary Jurik, a local artist; or Gary's mother, Wanda, who held Jimmy responsible for the accident that disabled Gary. Dogging the footsteps of Mary Higgins Clark, MacDonald distributes suspicion with a generous handand durned if she isn't still messing with Laura's mind, and yours, ten pages from the end. MacDonald lacks Clark's intuitively sure sense of just how far to push each subplot, but she and her bogeyman still deliver plenty of genuine, if synthetic, thrills.
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