Granted exactly one month to write her way back into her editor’s good graces, a spinner of romantic suspense hatches a plot with unnerving echoes of her own troubled life.
After the success years ago of Drowned Secrets, Liza Cole’s career has been nothing but a cycle of diminishing returns, and now Trevor, her editor, summarily demands an outline of her latest project and gives her a deadline only a month away. It’s not a recipe for reassurance, especially for an author who’s as agitated about childbearing as she is about bringing her story to birth. David Jacobson, her husband of 12 years, hasn’t been able to get her pregnant, and they’ve been led through an increasingly invasive and expensive set of procedures, their anxieties further ramped up by the month-old disappearance of Nick Landau, David’s law partner and best friend. Beth, the heroine of Liza’s new novel, has a 6-week-old baby, but that’s about the only way her life marks any improvement on her creator’s. Liza introduces her in the act of spotting her husband, Jake, a criminal prosecutor, sharing an intimate moment with sexy police officer Colleen Landry, and from that point on her life spirals further out of control, with stops along the way for a fling with Dr. Tyler Williams, the handsome psychiatrist Jake has arranged for her to see, and some deeply unwelcome revelations about her past from her old friend Christine. As the two plots unfold in alternate chapters, the parallels between them become more insistent and disturbing; Liza begins to hear Beth’s voice advising her at moments of fateful decision; and both stories inevitably lead to murder.
Holahan (The Widower’s Wife, 2016, etc.) spins a suffocating double nightmare that provides compelling support for her heroine’s rueful article of faith: “To be a writer is to be a life thief.”