Delinsky (More Than Friends, 2006, etc.) offers a polished drama featuring an otherwise responsible mother lying to police to protect her daughter.
When Deborah picks up teenage daughter Grace from a study group, she lets the girl drive home. Big mistake. A pouring rain, a dimly lit road, a couple of clandestine beers in Grace and a mild argument between the two contribute to hitting the runner that suddenly appears before them. And not just anyone; when they find his body by the road, Grace recognizes her history teacher Calvin McKenna. A doctor, Deborah stabilizes the man, who doesn’t seem critically hurt, calls an ambulance and has Grace run home to watch her little brother Dylan. When the police later question Deborah, they assume she was driving, and she doesn’t correct them. McKenna dies the next day, under mysterious circumstances, making the accident a potential vehicular homicide. Now Deborah’s uncalculated lie of omission has more serious implications, particularly in Grace’s life: She’s guilt-ridden, terrified the truth will come out and withdrawing from school and friends. Deborah begins to wonder if McKenna is the real victim. After all, why was he running so far from home? Why didn’t he alert hospital staff about the medication he was taking? The accident investigation pushes the story forward, and Delinsky does a fine job creating sympathetic characters with personal problems. Deborah, for one, shares a medical practice with her imposing father, who may be turning into an alcoholic. Younger sister Jill owns a successful bakery and is unwed and pregnant. Ex-husband Greg manages to infuriate Deborah years after their divorce. And to top it off, Deborah’s best friend’s husband—now her lawyer in the matter of the accident—has pledged to her his undying love. Making everything just a bit more complicated is the mutual attraction between Deborah and Tom McKenna, the dead man’s brother. By novel’s end the bizarre life and death of Calvin McKenna is explained, and much domestic turmoil is soothed, with happier days in sight.
Well-crafted and satisfying.