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Combining business with pleasure initially makes sense to Rachel Goldin, who takes a trip to Rome with her friend Kit Kernaghan. Rachel's marriage to plastic surgeon Nick Blakely has been rocky since his recent infidelity, and her relationship with Kit has suffered lately too. But nothing goes as expected. Rachel's software sales pitch at an architectural firm isn't successful, and her plans with Kit go up in smoke. While dining alone, Rachel meets a man --and spends the night with him.

Oddly, Rachel's fling strengthens her bond with Nick. But something else has changed too: Kit's suddenly acting strangely, threatening to reveal Rachel's indiscretion and demanding money to keep silent. Sickened, Rachel complies -- until the situation spirals out of control and there's much more at stake than her marriage.

Caldwell expertly plucks at the reader's nerves, building dread and doubt at a slow but deliciously inexorable pace. Almost Hitchcockian in its execution, this novel has the feel of a '50s film noir. (Jun., 384 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer