Based on the suspicions of her mother's former literary agent, Hedda Wolfe, Iris Greenfeder takes a leave of absence from her teaching post at Grace College and the Ph.D. program to learn the truth about the death of her mother, fantasy author Kay Greenfeder, and search for a missing manuscript that would complete Kay's trilogy.

Iris's search brings her back to The Hotel Equinox, now renamed Crown Equinox, that her parents managed. Iris takes on the role of new manager, with Aidan Barry, an attractive ex-con she met while teaching at a local prison, at her side.

The hotel scene is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie mystery, with many suspicious characters harboring secret pasts. Harry Kron, the hotel owner, has hidden reasons for buying the hotel, and his niece Phoebe, a magazine editor, proves to be as high-maintenance as her suicidal mother. Joseph is the long-suffering gardener, who knows much about the summer Kay died.

As the summer unfolds, images of Kay's fairy-tale novels intertwine with real life to lend an eerie feel to this crafty read. Goodman has done an excellent job tying together all the twists and turns into a neatly knotted solution. (Jan., 384 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick