LaPlante (Turn of Mind, 2011, etc.) returns with a character study as murder mystery.
Dr. John Taylor’s a respected Palo Alto plastic surgeon. While his Taylor Institute partners prefer the "revenue stream" of vanity surgery, Taylor’s passion is reconstructing the faces of damaged children. Taylor was "a man you could trust...a man who had your interests at heart...competent, straight-talking, yet compassionate," and so there’s widespread shock when Taylor’s found dead at a local hotel. The confusion’s compounded when it’s discovered that Taylor was a bigamist. Deborah, his wife of decades, presides over local society. MJ Taylor, an accountant to whom he’s been married for six years, lives in a modest ranch with a lush garden. His bride of six months, Dr. Helen Richter, is a respected Los Angeles children’s cancer specialist. A media storm erupts, growing to the intensity of a hurricane after it’s discovered Taylor was murdered. The case is assigned to law school dropout–turned–police officer Samantha Adams, a young woman who finds her own long-term relationship perplexing. In this literary character study built on a mystery’s framework, LaPlante ingeniously constructs characters that are distinct and original. Deborah withdrew from her marriage to Taylor, but, unwilling to divorce, she acquiesced to his search for intimacy elsewhere, even managing logistics for all three marriages. MJ’s a tortured, needy soul, ripe for seduction. Helen, a singularly focused physician, finds herself "surprised by joy" and "not in control of my destiny or my body." Taylor became what each needed. Against this backdrop, Samantha’s relationship with her lover, a lackadaisical Ph.D. candidate in anthropology, unravels as she comes face to face with "[t]he shell of an amicable but less-than-nourishing relationship...as good as I can expect to get." And then into the narrative come MJ’s drug-damaged brother, Thomas, and exotically beautiful Dr. Claire Fanning, Taylor Institute’s newest surgeon and Taylor’s prospective wife, for whom he’s promised to forsake all others.
Love, passion and marriage reflected in a mystery’s fun-house mirror.