Fifteen stories by the author of 1991's psychological thriller Gone (written as Kit Craig and soon to be seen as a TV melodrama). Reed is strongest on character, though a number of these pieces end with satisfying story-turns--while others don't deliver as strongly as the reader hopes. The best are about the persistence of love, despite hopeless separation, love that arises when least expected, the persistence of faith, the recovery of sanity during a deadly snowfall, giving up a childhood reliance on an escapist fantasy to face reality, and the failure of the ravages of time to destroy a loving friendship. In three of the stories the female main character's father has either drowned in a submarine disaster or escaped from drowning, once to drown in a prison of alcoholism. The outstanding stories are the first and Last, ""In the Squalus"" and ""Thief of Life."" In the Squalus, based on a famous pre-WW II submarine disaster off New England, the narrator's father is among the survivors who--to save themselves--have to close a hatch on fellow submariners and let them drown. The dead remain with him forever while he closes a hatch on himself, sealing himself off from his family. This begins with a terrific grip, but ends less strongly. Full of superb detail, ""Thief of Life"" finds time making caricatures of beloved friends whine home lives are far more bitter than shows. Two stories are most amusing: ""Winter"" about two old spinsters who keep an AWOL teenage Marine as their guest during a blizzard; he eats them nearly out of house and home, and then they return the favor. ""Academic Novel"" is a vast university soap-opera done in 15 pages, turning the life of the mind into hormonal horseplay. ""Queen of the Beach"" appeals strongly, about a callously happy, super-slim Florida mom and her overweight daughter. Reed is a clean, clear stylist, everywhere expert and attractive.