Heckler (Circumstances Unknown, 1993, etc.) conjures up another thriller that plays by familiar rules but still elicits some suspense. Sass Lindsey is a sweet Grammy-winning singer haunted by her troubled childhood with an abusive mother. At 37, having won every award there is and toured her heart out, she decides to retire in order to spend time with Quent Maxwell, her ex-husband, with whom she has rekindled a romance. She assembles her staff to give them a one-year notice of her retirement, after which, almost immediately, Austin Crowley, a neighbor of hers when she was a child and her business manager as an adult, is found hanging in the barn on her property. Lindsey is convinced that his death is no suicide, and that belief is compounded when her agent is robbed and beaten to death. She quickly backtracks on her retirement announcement, but it does no good. She is obviously at the center of a conspiracy. The characters are about as believable as their silly names, and Lindsey is seen in concert, but rarely seems to rehearse or prepare in any way. Memories of life with her volatile mommie dearest are generic, and, although it is hinted that other characters may not buy Lindsey's theories, believing instead that she has been traumatized by her past so that she is imagining things, this suggestion is then basically ignored. Still, Heckler's pacing is undeniably phenomenal: She could create tension in an outing to the grocery store. One does wish that she would pay more attention to character and avoid hackneyed language, however. When Lindsey announces her retirement, ""she had thought the sentence would land like a grenade,"" and the president of her record label notes that ""she was fashioned of her own will."" It is difficult not to get caught up in the waves that move this story along, even if the water being rippled is naturally stagnant.