As in her acclaimed Eden Close (1989), Shreve here picks up the loose threads of long-ago murder to weave a gripping and articulate story that has much to say about love and spite and domestic tragedy. By her own account, Maureen English is fleeing from a brutally abusive husband when she takes her infant daughter, Caroline, and leaves their N.Y.C. apartment. The year is 1970, and Maureen's husband, Harrold, is a respected reporter for a prominent newsmagazine. She's certain no one would believe her story. After driving frantically up the coast, Maureen settles in St. Hilaire, a tiny fishing village in Maine, where she rents a cottage and attracts a fair amount of attention--including the attention of a married fisherman named Jack Strout. With Jack, Maureen finds a kind of happiness she's never known and she feels her life begin to turn around--until Harrold shows up. The murder that follows draws nationwide interest, and Helen Scofield, a young reporter at Harrold's magazine, seizes the opportunity to write her version of the events and make a name for herself. Now, nearly 19 years later, Helen Scofield meets with Maureen's daughter Caroline to clear the air and salve her own conscience. Shreve makes a pertinent point here about journalistic ethics and how news is swayed by the mores of the day, although her message might have been stronger if Scofield seemed more sympathetic--she's a real stiff. But the heart of the story is all Maureen's, and it carries us, with every beat, to its haunting--and inevitable--conclusion. Murder with a Message. In Shreve's hands it's both believable and unthinkable--and totally absorbing.