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Mary Higgins Clark fans take note: Here's an imitation loaded with more mystery and suspense than the real thing. Twenty years ago, Caroline Corday's five-year-old daughter Hayley was kidnapped and killed. Now, divorced from moody, self-lacerating painter Chris Corday and married to soothing doctor David Webb, Caroline's busy raising a second family when signs of the dead Hayley surface, first disturbingly--Caroline hears her dead daughter's voice in the stockroom of a friend's store; a doll that had vanished with Hayley turns up on her bed; a girl sounding just like Hayley comes trick-or-treating--then shockingly, as Chris and David are both shot, and people who failed Hayley--brattish Pamela Burke and witchy Millicent Longworth (who both refused to help her after she was kidnapped), former police detective Harry Vinton (who swept the case under the table), and elderly Garrison Longworth (who knows more about her disappearance than he's told)--are killed, their deaths marked by bouquets of childishly labeled black orchids. Has Hayley returned from the grave, as Carolina's Haitian housekeeper Fidelia Barnabas insists? Is someone else avenging her? Or is someone using this old crime as an excuse to prey on Caroline's fears about her daughter Melinda? First-novelist Thompson steps up the menace in carefully measured doses while skillfully playing rational and supernatural explanations off against each other until the unsurprising denouement. Thompson weaves monstrous threats into domestic worries very effectively--and creates a nightmare likely to scare all those parents who feel they've let their children down.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 1990
Publisher: Little, Brown