Buchanan, whose hooks are the best in the business, outdoes herself when the corpse Miami News police reporter Britt Montero sees wash up on a sunlit beach is identified as Kaithlin Jordan, whose husband is already on Death Row, convicted of her murder ten years ago. If the corpse really does belong to the former department-store clerk who married the owner's heir and became a crackerjack store manager before her well-publicized domestic and legal problems (allegations of a $3 million embezzlement, her separation from R.J. Jordan), its discovery raises some tough questions: What was she doing for the past ten years? Was she an amnesiac or a fugitive from justice? Why didn't she ever come forward to clear the man accused of killing her? And what brought her back to Miami to get murdered days before the state executed her husband? As Britt works her contacts—this time including an investigator for the State's Attorney who shows real promise as a romantic lead—to delve deeper into Kaithlin's life, she bumps up against some memorable characters, from R.J.'s sanctimonious mother to an impoverished friend of Kaithlin's who claims her body (along, eventually, with two other competitors) to the sleazy lawyer Kaithlin phoned from her posh hotel room shortly before she died. But none of them upstages the dead woman, who remains even beyond the last shocking revelation the most mysterious presence of all.
Pruning away the tabloid crime cameos she does better than anybody else, Pulitzer-laureate Buchanan (Garden of Evil, 1999, etc.) focuses like a laser on her irresistible main event, and comes up trumps.