Clark’s heavy-breathing 22nd asks who planted a bomb on a rising architect’s yacht, and whether the killer may be closing in on his widow.
One minute the Cornelia II was lying peacefully at anchor off New York Harbor; the next a fireball had reduced the ship to ashes, along with its four passengers: owner Adam Cauliff, who’d planned the harbor outing as a way of bringing together the major participants in the Vandermeer Tower project he’d designed; Winifred Johnson, the loyal assistant who’d followed him from his old architectural firm; Vandermeer contractor Sam Krause; and Jimmy Ryan, probable site manager for the job. Krause, about to be indicted for bid fixing, leaves no one behind to lament his abrupt passing. But Adam and Jimmy are copiously mourned by their widows, old-money newspaper columnist Nell MacDermott, inconsolable because she’d just quarreled with Adam over her decision to seek her grandfather’s old congressional seat, and no-money manicurist Lisa Ryan, who can’t imagine how she’ll raise the three children Jimmy left behind. But some fortuitous discoveries among Adam’s and Jimmy’s effects—secret compartments, safe-deposit-box keys, and all the rest—swiftly persuade their wives that there was more to the explosion than the leaking fuel line police had originally favored, and a young child who witnessed the blast has been having nightmares that suggests somebody may have survived. Was it Adam, Jimmy, Winifred, or Krause? Or was the whole scheme engineered by Peter Lang, the big-deal developer who’d masterminded the Vandermeer project but missed the boat that took his fellow-players to Davy Jones’s locker?
Less suspense and more honest-to-goodness mystery than most of Clark’s best-selling output (We’ll Meet Again, 1999, etc.), though the author telegraphs each twist so conscientiously that few fans will be fooled.