Beneath the apt title, which would have served equally well for half a dozen of Cook’s previous thrillers, is a portrait of a family torn asunder by madness, death and suspicions of foul play.
David Sears’s father was schizophrenic, and so was his nephew Jason. Now he’s worried about his sister. All through his childhood, David remained in the shadow of Diana, the gifted older sister who, according to their father, was like chess to David’s checkers. But now that David’s found his niche as a small-town lawyer specializing in the dissolutions of marriages and businesses, Diana seems to be disintegrating under the pressure of Jason’s death by drowning. Unable to accept the official verdict of misadventure, she’s rushed to divorce her husband, Mark, a rising biochemist, and evidently embarked on a campaign to discredit him, even accusing him of murder. Nor can David reach her; she’s withdrawn from everyone but David’s teenaged daughter Patty, who not only doesn’t share her father’s sense that Diana is dangerously disturbed but seems to be taking her side against the world. The retrospective family drama unfolds against the backdrop of David’s questioning by Detective Samuel Petrie, but the results aren’t as urgent or even as surprising as in Instruments of Night (1998) or The Interrogation (2002).
No visit to Cook’s dark landscapes is without its rewards, but even fans may find too many cobwebs and too few thrills this time.