Boulder psychotherapist Alan Gregory takes time off from a practice that includes more than its share of killers (Dry Ice, 2007, etc.) to hunt down several vanished babies and their mothers.
The morning after six campers met Estonian cafeteria cook Jaana Peet on the floor of the Grand Canyon, she disappeared from her companion, Nick Paulson, without a trace. Years later, two of the six turn up in Alan’s life courtesy of his ex-wife Merideth. A hard-charging TV newsmagazine producer, Merideth has had several miscarriages. Determined to become a mother, she’s hired Lisa, one of the campers who left the Canyon without searching for the missing Jaana, as surrogate mother to carry a child to term for Merideth and her fiancé, political consultant Eric Leffler, another of the campers who hiked out instead of looking for Jaana. Now that Lisa has gone missing from her New York apartment, Merideth insists that Alan help find her and her unborn child. Alan’s ever-complicated domestic life makes him the perfect candidate for Merideth’s plan, since he’s already in Manhattan acting as a lifeline for Jonas, the child Alan’s late friend Adrienne commended to his care. Alan can’t expect any help from his wife, Boulder ADA Lauren Crowder, who’s off in Holland seeking to trace an out-of-wedlock daughter she gave up for adoption many years before. Several of the tangled plotlines eventually bear fruit, but not nearly enough to justify their number, complexity or lack of interrelation.
Most of Alan’s cases are thrillers, but despite several homicides here, the leading threat facing the hero is whether he’ll sleep with any of the attractive women who seem determined to throw themselves at him—and whether he’ll ever be able, as therapists say, to move on with his life.