Once again, Bowen's Canadian earth mother/university teacher Joanne Kilbourn has to wrestle with the everyday hurt of family love: her daughter Mieka is planning a wedding to the daughter of the politically conservative Harris family; her son Peter's unsuitable girlfriend Christy Sinclair has just popped up again; and Joanne has adopted Sally Love's young daughter Taylor (Love and Murder, 1993). Then there's also the catastrophic hurt of violent death: Mieka's young cleaning woman, a former hustler, seems to be the latest in a series of murders by spumed pimps; Christy, branded by a similar teddy-bear tattoo, dies after a barbiturate cocktail, having listed Joanne (why?) as her next of kin. It's no surprise that the roots of these mysteries are deeply entwined in personal threats to the family life Joanne would so dearly love to protect -- or that she deals with those threats with unsurpassed sensitivity. With her rare talent for plumbing emotional pain, Bowen makes you feel the shock of murder and other horrors as acutely as she does her most reasonable fears about her children's lovers.