Sent away from her home in Oberon, Calif., when she was a teenager, just days after her father's death, Scout Patterson has grown up alienated from life. Now, 20 years later, she returns home after the death of her stepmother, determined to find out what happened to Lisa, the stepsister who went missing right before Scout was banished.

As a young teen, Scout fell in love with Nick Greco, who, as the older cousin of one of Lisa's friends and a police officer, should have known better than to get involved with her. For 20 years, Nick has longed for Scout, but his few attempts to find her have failed. Moving on with his life, Nick married, had a daughter and divorced.

Nick's cousin, Lucy Cavanaugh, has held a sizeable grudge against Scout since high school. Lucy, Lisa and another friend used Scout as a conduit to cheat in math class by hypnotizing her. When Scout finally built up defenses to their mental invasion, she was responsible for getting the other girls kicked out of school. Lucy was the last person to hear from Lisa.

With a cast of characters large enough to necessitate just such a list, this novel may be a challenge to readers trying to keep everyone straight, and the point-of-view changes are fast and frequent. While the tale begins slowly, the pace does pick up midway through, and the twists in the story will make one question what happened to Lisa. Unfortunately, most of the tension between the various characters, especially between Scout and Nick, could be easily resolved by honest communication. (Mar. '04, 460 pp., $19.95)
Reviewed by: 
Karen Sweeny-Justice