A first suspenser, southern California-set, that subscribes to the Los Angeles gestalt of spiritual destiny, car phones, and cheesecake containing three grams of fat per slice. Investigative reporter and TV producer Ariel Gold wakes up one morning not only feeling dreadful but having no idea who she is. With a huge lump on her head, a German shepherd named Jessie, a gun, and a bloody shirt, ""Ariel"" then begins to live the adage that ""Today is the first day of the rest of your life."" A stranger to herself, she's also repulsed by the body she finds herself in. Who is this fat, ugly woman with the bad perm? Nor does Ariel seem the same to her boss, Henry Heller, a thrice-divorced and seasoned TV news reporter, or to any of her other colleagues and quirkily charming neighbors. Then, suddenly, Ariel begins to quote famous authors; she's acquired wit and grace and charm; and she loves to garden and cook low-calorie meals. In fact, more and more -- first emotionally, then physically -- she begins to resemble Jane Macaulay, the likable model and heiress murdered in a Santa Monica car bombing that was intended for Ariel. As she begins to investigate her own mysterious case, she meets Jane's father, who takes immediately to her, as does Jane's cute dog and her psychic yoga teacher. But even with hypnotherapy, Ariel can't bring herself back to her former life. And yet she must, because with a wrecked apartment, a burglar she kills in self-defense, and assorted unmarked vehicles following her, Ariel knows she's in mortal danger. Who did the crime is never in doubt; the real mystery is how two 30-ish women in identical red Thunderbirds found themselves at the same Italian restaurant on the same fateful Sunday.... A pleasantly engrossing, gentle beach read -- and a promising start for Mercer.