Wall (Handsome Women, 1990; Love and Duty, 1988) serves up her usual--here, in the tale of four close female friends from adolescence through married middle age--and adds a ham-fisted twist of psychological suspense. Jenny the beauty, Bonnie the budding journalist, Helen the born homemaker, and Libby the driven ballerina became girlhood best friends in 1950's Denver at Libby's instigation. As passionately bonded adolescents, they dreamed of going to New York together to become rich and famous. When the story opens, they're adults and only Libby is still faithful to the dream; the others have married local boys and settled down in their hometown. Their friendship endures, although Libby often seems unaccountably distant or unhappy--and then one day she simply disappears. The other three sail breezily on, Helen and Bonnie gliding through a series of universal female checkpoints (frustrated by just keeping house and raising kids, Helen starts a wildly successful baking business and eventually becomes a TV chef; tired of typing her more successful husband's speeches, Bonnie vows to be taken more seriously herself as a journalist, and soon is) while Jenny doesn't do much except stay pretty. But after years have passed, and they've heard nothing of their first and fiercest friend, they set out, like a trio of overgrown Nancy Drews, to find out what happened to her. The more they learn about their friend, the leas it seems they knew the desperate woman whose intense love for them was more than just ""creepy."" Then Helen learns some things so painful--things involving Libby and all three of their dastardly husbands--that she is understandably traumatized. But Bonnie and Jenny will accept the news with dizzying speed and seem posed to live happily ever after. An unconvincing plodder in which the three leads are virtually indistinguishable. Even the plot twists provided by the pasted-on mystery are too heavily foreshadowed and glibly resolved to provide much of a thrill.