A chilling, eloquent novel that draws you in with mystery and holds you there with love, obsession, failure, insanity, and an enchanting hybrid of past and present. Narrator Christine Ward lost her beloved college friend Orin Pierce when he reportedly drove off a cliff in New Mexico. She tried to get on with her life by marrying a pretentious French painter, having a son, and beginning her own watercolor career. But the memory of Pierce, as she called him, was always at the surface: ``He was in my mind nearly every day--sometimes for a moment, other times like an extended meditation.'' In addition, she was still reeling from her brother's suicide that same year, committed with a gun he had gotten from Pierce. So when her son was only five, Christine had a breakdown, and her husband, who criticized her work and looked at other women's breasts, took advantage of the situation and whisked their son off to Paris. Twenty years after Pierce's disappeaance, Christine has it together. She's working toward a major show, she's in a loving relationship with a former accountant who now owns a pizzeria, and her son, whom she has only seen three times in 12 years, wants to go to Yale and be near his mother in New Haven. But then Christine sees the name Orin Pierce in a stranger's Filo-Fax and hears his name called by a woman on the street; suddenly, she thinks there's been some mistake, that her best friend never died at all. Of course, she tracks down an Orin Pierce in New York City and a relationship ensues. And as she studies him for hints of the other Pierce and wonders how much a man could change in 20 years (could the bohemian actor she knew have become a bald, bespectacled real-estate dealer?), she learns more than she ever wanted to know about secrets and lies. Florey (Duet, 1987, etc.) infuses her typically irresistible characters with a depth and darkness that give her newest work a coherent vision and lasting effect.