In 1977, convicted child serial killer Russell Lee Holmes is put to death by the state of Texas. On the day he is executed, an abandoned 9-year-old girl turns up in a Boston hospital, suffering from anaphylactic shock. She is unable to tell the authorities her name or where she came from. Months later, the child is adopted by Dr. Harper Stokes and his wife.

Over the past 20 years, Melanie Stokes has become a bright, gifted young woman. Despite Melanie?s devotion to her family, she has never been allowed to forget that she is the second Stokes daughter. The first, Meagan, was murdered when she was four years old by Russell Lee Holmes.

Melanie is shocked when scummy reporter Larry Digger informs her at a party that he has evidence that she is Holmes' daughter. Sickened and horrified, Melanie is rescued from the party by "waiter" David Riggs—actually an FBI special agent. David is investigating charges that Dr. Stokes and Melanie's ex-fiancee Dr. William Sheffield are guilty of insurance fraud. Overhearing Digger's claim, David volunteers to go with Melanie and Digger to see the so-called evidence. They don't get far before an assassin kills Digger and shoots at Melanie.

Is there any truth to Digger's assertion?

As David and Melanie investigate, a murky scenario appears. Who really killed Meagan and why? Did the Stokes family knowingly adopt the daughter of a killer? Suddenly, nothing is as it seems and Melanie?s family is shattering all around her. Two unseen forces seem to be at work?one is determined for the truth to be revealed, and the other is equally resolved to keep it buried.

If you love great suspense, then camp out at your local bookstore and make sure you get your hands on this incredible new novel. Ms. Gardner has just vaulted into the big leagues with this intricate, chilling and unbelievably suspenseful tale. (Aug., 422 pp., $6.50)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith