On Independence Day 1953, Violet Sullivan went out for the evening, leaving her 7-year-old daughter, Daisy, with a sitter. Daisy never saw her mom again, and Violet's disappearance was never solved. Now, 34 years later, Daisy asks private investigator Kinsey Millhone to find out what happened.

Kinsey hesitates to get involved; she doesn't think she'll uncover anything new. Every few years, reporters have looked into Violet's case, and leads have never surfaced. But Daisy is persuasive, and Kinsey eventually gives in.

Once again, Grafton delivers an outstanding read. The story concerns the residents of Serena Station, Calif., where, in 1953, the volatile relationship between Violet and her husband was known to all. As in many small towns, even the quietest residents had secrets to keep. To discover Violet's fate, Kinsey has to untangle a web of secrets that has been staunchly protected for more than three decades.

Told in alternating viewpoints -- a first for Grafton -- the book introduces the characters as they were then and as they are now. Some have broken dreams, others blossoming new ones. This is a poignant mystery expertly delivered by one of the genre's most beloved storytellers. (Dec., 368 pp., $26.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jo Peters