Another stand-alone suspenser that rams home the point that there’s no such thing as an ex-mother.
Pharmaceutical rep William Skyler blamed his divorce on his wife, Dr. Jill Farrow. He told his daughters, Victoria and Abby, that Jill had cheated on him and forbade them to keep in touch with her or her own daughter Megan. Now, three years later, William is dead, overdosed on prescription medications Abby is convinced he didn’t take himself. What’s Jill supposed to do when Abby drives unannounced to the home she shares with diabetes researcher Sam Becker, drunk, weeping hysterically and begging for help? Nothing, maintains Sam, who tells Jill that she’s choosing continuing loyalty to Abby (and to Victoria, who makes it witheringly clear at William’s funeral that she still wants nothing to do with Jill) over her commitment to him and his son Steven. Nothing, say the Philadelphia police, who insist that William’s death was no homicide. Nothing, Jill’s penny-pinching medical-practice manager Sheryl Ewing says—or would surely say if Jill, already playing out a losing hand in office politics, ever brought it up to her. Naturally, Jill, protesting, “What’s a mother, or a stepmother?...Isn’t it forever?,” takes it upon herself to investigate anyway. Scottoline backs her increasingly beset supermom (“It wasn’t a juggling act, it was a magic act”) into sleuthing mode with practiced expertise, giving her exactly the right motivations and qualifications for the specific questions she asks. And there’ll be a lump in every throat when Abby disappears and when Jill fights to diagnose a baby who keeps getting ear infections. As usual with Scottoline, though, the complications are a lot more satisfying than the windup, in which reason and plausibility take a back seat to tearful family affirmations.
Connoisseurs of mother love imperiled will prefer Save Me (2011). But it would be a mistake to count Scottoline out; she’s sure to be back next year with another dose that might be even more potent.