Clark follows a complicated family mystery in this familiar story of individuals caught up in past misdeeds and present tragedies.
As sisters, Kate and Hannah Connelly couldn’t be more unalike: One is tall, blonde and good with numbers, the other, short with charcoal brown hair, is a budding fashion designer. But the two sisters share more than simply the bond that comes with being siblings—they have a father who is distant, self-absorbed and disinterested in their concerns. The three are tied together by virtue of the family business, which produces high-quality antique reproductions. When the quality of the products and orders fall off, the girls pressure their father, who wants to be called by his first name, Doug, to sell out. He refuses, despite their best efforts. Then, one night, the complex explodes, killing a former employee and landing Kate in the hospital, unconscious and fighting for her life. Clark then trots out the current plant manager; the widow and daughter of the dead man; two fire marshals, along with the wife of one of them; a woman whose daughter disappeared after moving to New York City in order to become an actress and her son, who is a lawyer; the family of a college student who was murdered two years earlier; a retired police detective; Hannah’s best friend; and a plethora of other characters, all of whom are described down to their dental work. Also figuring heavily in the plot is a long-ago accident in which a boat driven by Doug Connelly sank and killed his wife, Susan, and his brother and the aftereffects of the Vietnam War. While the two fire marshals inexplicably continue to follow a case that spreads to include not simply arson, but other, more serious crimes that are not related to the explosion, the other characters find their lives and fates converging.
Too many characters and too much extraneous information pad this lackluster tale that will resonate with Clark die-hards but won’t bring new converts to the fold.