Just in time for the political season, powerhouse author Sandra Brown serves up her most intriguing and suspenseful novel to date.

Broadcast journalist Barrie Travis is trying to revive her career after nearly self destructing when a story blew up in her face. She is both thrilled and taken aback when the First Lady requests a meeting.

It is no secret that Vanessa Merritt has had a rough time recovering from the death of her infant son. The official cause of death of the First Couple's only child is SIDS, but Barrie comes away from her meeting with the definite impression that the First Lady wants Barrie to dig deeper. Sensing a potential time-bomb, Barrie proceeds cautiously.

President David Merritt and his close advisor Spencer Martin are unnerved by Barrie's investigation. Manic-depressive Vanessa is turning out to be a liability, and if not for her powerful father, Senator Armbruster, they might have eliminated her. Someone they can eliminate, who could unravel the truth, is former friend and national hero Gray Bondurant.

Barrie latches onto the reclusive Gray as a potential source of information. Their first meeting leads to spontaneous combustion, making them both retreat emotionally. All the hot gossip tags Gray as Vanessa's lover, reportedly the reason he abandoned Washington.

When Spencer is dispatched to kill Gray, Gray decides to join forces with Barrie. What is the truth behind the baby's death? Was it really SIDS or was it murder? And is the killer Vanessa, David or someone else?

With Presidential powers arrayed against them, it will take brains, nerve and a lot of luck for Barrie and Gray to succeed and survive.

Ms. Brown is a masterful storyteller who goes mainstream in a big way with this taut, hard-edged and sensational thriller. (July, 475 pp, $22.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith