Two authors’ lives intersect in a strange and mysterious way.
Madeleine d’Leon, a lawyer married to well-liked doctor Hugh Lamond, puts aside the successful historical mystery series she’s written when she becomes obsessed with telling the story of a new character, Edward “Ned” McGinnity, a wealthy young author whose whole family was killed in a car crash. The accident has colored his life, and its shadow has appeared in all his work. Slowly Madeleine creates Ned’s life, including his love for artist Willow Meriwether, who considers him only her best friend since she remains in love with her boorish artist husband. At Willow’s gallery opening, she’s approached by Geoffrey Vogel, a critic with no love for her work. His editing of Ned’s first novel ruined it, and both Willow and Ned are natural suspects when Vogel is found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs at the gallery. In the meantime, Ned has begun writing a novel in which Madeleine is the protagonist. He introduces her sadness over several miscarriages and the slow cooling of her relationship with her husband, who forces her to see a psychiatrist because he fears she’s so obsessed with her hero that she spends all her time writing and even having conversations with the fictionalized Ned. Madeleine suspects her husband of harboring a real-life secret, perhaps an affair, but her own life is taken up with writing Ned’s story and discovering who murdered Vogel. As Ned continues to work on his novel, detailing his problems with Willow and the horrors of being suspected of murder, his love for Madeleine grows. It becomes ever harder to determine what is truth and what is fiction in the intertwining stories of murder, love, and obsession.
In this intriguing and unusual tale, a stunning departure from Gentill’s period mysteries (Give the Devil His Due, 2015, etc.), the question is not whodunit but who’s real and who’s a figment of someone’s vivid imagination.