When his father ran himself and his latest doxy off the road two years ago, Jake Collier blamed his mother for their deaths, because if Maggie Collier hadn’t quarreled with her faithless husband, he wouldn’t have driven off to his final rendezvous. Now that Maggie and he have retreated to sheltered Delbrook, Wisconsin, Jake also blames his mother for his grandfather’s demise, reasoning that if she’d pressed George Collier to honor his promise to come for dinner instead of begging off for another poker game at the country club, he wouldn’t have gotten stabbed to death as he was strolling afterward at the 18th tee. But this time Jake’s accusation makes some sense, because mounting evidence suggests that George wasn’t killed by homeless local character Tully Jackson, as benighted police chief Charley Blessington insists, but by one of the poker companions who realized that the sudden brainstorm George blurted out about the location of Tyler McKenzie, kidnapped over a year ago, would soon unmask the perp as one of his friends. Which of Maggie’s suspicious suitors is living a double life as “the Warrior” who snatches young children, seeking to indoctrinate them into his warped primitivism and disposing of the candidates who don’t make the final cut? Is it landscaper Hugh Rossiter, Tyler’s uncle Grant Holbrook, or perhaps stolid Charley himself?
A wildly implausible premise, a killer both florid and remote, too many detectives for sustained suspense, and an absence of deeply felt menace: they’ll all keep Mary Higgins Clark, or anyone else, from losing sleep over this latest knockoff from Powers (Sunflower, 1998).