Guest (Ordinary People; Second Heaven) and Hill (an equally adroit dissector of family relationships, cf. Blue Rise) poke, prod, and vandalize psyches in the small town of St. Cloud, where it turns out, almost no one is fit to cast the first stone. When Nick Uhler abandons Chicago and returns to St. Cloud for the first time since high school, someone's upset enough about it to bash in his head and dump him into the river. Nick's longtime scapegoat Charlie Carmody (a frame-up sent him to jail while Nick got off scot-free) is the prime suspect, but once again he's someone else's patsy. Discovering whose exposes a Cain and Abel relationship; an ex-wife who was unwittingly sterilized; a philandering husband; a distraught and all-powerful patriarch; and several children, all fathered by the destructively charming Nick. Meanwhile, Charlie's pregnant sister-in-law Elizabeth dies of a uterine hemorrhage, her little niece almost dies by swallowing pills she found in auntie's coat pocket, and her husband Simon hates his newly delivered son and hires Marty--Charlie's (unrequited) love--to nanny him. The deaths peel away defenses, reveal past relationships that were semi-secret until now, and Charlie finds two clues: a check Elizabeth endorsed for Nick for $5000 and love letters from her to him. Charlie, for once, is off the hook--and the murderer is cornered. Written in that deceptively simple Mary Higgins Clark style, but meatier. The mystery plays second fiddle to the intertwined relationships but, still, this is effective and emotionally lacerating.