The appearance of women and children at Abby Northrup's door is nothing new. The renovated monastery is not just Abby's home, it's a shelter for the abused. Abby is surprised to see her friend Alicia Gerard and her daughter there, but they're clearly distraught, so she takes them in.

This simple act has staggering repercussions in Abby's quiet life. All of a sudden, the FBI is at her door, accusing the women of murder, and Alicia abruptly vanishes. Disregarding Sheriff Ben Schaeffer's objections, despite their close relationship, Abby goes looking for Alicia and the truth -- plunging herself into a dangerous situation she can't understand or control. It's a situation that may have far-reaching consequences, and even breach national security.

A complex plot, nicely rounded characters and several original twists combine to create an enjoyable read. What keeps this novel from being outstanding is the length of time O'Brien takes to reveal what's really going on. (May, 400 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer