This should be the happiest time of Emma Hollis' life. She has a job she enjoys -- as a counselor at a youth crisis center -- she's pregnant and she's about to marry David.

In the small town of Pine Barrens, N.J., where Emma and David plan to spend their honeymoon at a cabin belonging to David's aunt and uncle, things are usually serene -- until Emma is attacked by a masked stranger wielding an axe.

David immediately becomes the prime suspect because he wasn't at the cabin during the attack and Emma stands to inherit a sizeable trust fund. At first, it seems like an isolated incident, then it comes to light that Emma has been receiving threatening letters, and she becomes the victim of more attacks. There are a few other leads, but all signs point to David, whom Emma loves, and in whose innocence she wants to believe. Yet the more she learns, the more she wonders if she married a stranger.

This novel is a little difficult to get into because of the plethora of characters. Some are not well defined and appear only briefly, yet they're scattered throughout the novel. At times, it's hard to keep track of them all. Aside from that, MacDonald creates a riveting mystery that keeps you guessing right up until the end. (Jul., 304 pp., $24.00)
Reviewed by: 
Leslie L. McKee