Furloughing Sharon McCone after 22 cases (Dead Midnight, 2002, etc.), Muller delivers a brisk, tidy number without her.
Matthew Lindstrom likes his life, loves his wife—though he’s temporarily (he hopes) separated from her—which is why he’s devastated when the sheriff’s phone call reports Gwen’s car, bloodstained and abandoned, parked on the side of a country road. As the weeks pass and she continues missing, suspicion inevitably settles on the husband. Without a body, the cops can’t build a case against him, but the neighbors can. Matthew loses his friends as people ostentatiously cross streets to avoid social contamination. He loses his teaching job. Indeed he loses his life, at least the life that had so satisfied him, and begins a long odyssey that finally ends in Port Regis, British Columbia, where he surfaces as the surprisingly contented owner of a moderately successful charter boat. He’s reclusive, but the few people who know him like him, and he’s come to terms with what he has and what he’s lost. Then, 14 years later, another phone call, no less disruptive than the sheriff’s, informs him that Ardis Coleman, who’s very much alive in Cyanide Wells, California, was once Gwen Lindstrom.
A little hokey sometimes, but Muller’s best plotting in years makes it irresistible.