The cozy, inbred New York hamlet of Taconic Hills, celebrating its bicentennial by staging a pageant of its early history, is beset by a series of disturbingly literal echoes of that history: its spiritual leader dead of exposure after getting lost in a snowstorm; the unexplained spoiling of a vat of milk; a dog dead of a mysterious three-point wound; a cannon's fatal explosion. Sara Hoving, slated to play the part of drowned Emily Schiller, feels trapped not only in her heroine's destiny but in her own traumatic childhood as she finally confronts her closemouthed father, her husband Peter's family, and the town council about her mother's abrupt abandonment of her as a child. The time that Wallace takes over Sara's painful discovery of the truth--eight fictional months--allows her a texture and spaciousness rare in mystery fiction; the result is not to be missed. Readers who've been comparing Wallace (A Single Stone, etc.) to Mary Higgins Clark will have to find a more resonant model for this likely Edgar contender.