A single indiscretion threatens a businesswoman’s family and friends.
Conference presentations have never been Marta Crawford’s forte. A former Boston Globe reporter, she’s always handled the creative side of C&M Advantage, leaving the marketing of the public relations firm to her partner, Carol Hogan. But when Carol gets sick the night before, Marta flies out to Minneapolis to pinch-hit. Nothing goes right. The presentation bombs, her husband, Gordon, and ugly-duckling teenage daughter, Jamie, don’t even call to wish her a happy 40th birthday, and she ends up alone in a bar drinking something called a Pink Moose. Pretty soon, she’s not alone. Handsome, younger Todd Wilson sidles over, intrigued by her colorful beverage. The rest of the evening is kind of a blur, but the next morning Marta wakes up in a strange hotel lying next to her new pal. Scared and ashamed, she flies back home, trying to ignore the barrage of text messages from Todd. What she can’t ignore is Todd himself when he shows up in Sterling, Georgia, where the Crawfords have been trying to make a new life ever since Gordon was let go from Tufts University for sexual harassment. Pretending to be interested in buying a house in their neighborhood, Todd befriends the lonely academic, who’s still smarting at being banished to lowly Howell College. He continues to court Marta with flowers and sticky buns. But when he sets his sights on Jamie, he crosses a line that Marta can’t ignore.
The latest from Jacobs (Lying With Strangers, 2013, etc.) is long on suspense but short on surprise as it plunges toward its creepy but entirely predictable conclusion.