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by April Henry

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2000
ISBN: 0-06-019205-4
Publisher: HarperCollins

Since coming into a fortune, Claire Montrose (Circles of Confusion, p. 26) has left her job at the Specialty Plates bureau of Oregon’s Motor Vehicles Division, and she thinks her sleuthing activities have ended too. But old habits die hard, and Claire keeps dropping vanity plate logos like “KID KR8” and “URNNML” into this tale of her search for the daughter her former colleague Lori Hesslewhite gave up for a hush-hush adoption ten years ago, never dreaming she’d want to track her down as a possible bone-marrow donor for her leukemia-stricken son Zach. Claire’s quest takes her undercover as an allegedly pregnant client of the Bradford Clinic, which pays healthy expectant mothers $15,000 per baby, presumably asks prospective parents for a lot more, and has no interest in upsetting their wildly profitable operation for the sake of dying Zach. Cultivating a friendly guard and the standoffish head nurse, Claire narrows her search down to four babies, and in the course of tracking them uncovers two more possible homicides. Meanwhile, Zach’s lurching in and out of remission, and Claire’s own mother, a compulsive TV shopper, is requiring strong medicine of her own. More deeply felt than Claire’s Cinderella-esque debut, though readers whose hormones aren’t acting up will solve most of the mysteries before Claire. As for the vanity tags: Unless you’re a puzzle freak, they’re probably 2QT4U—or 4NE1LS.