Josie Baylor–Bates, an attorney in the small California coastal town of Hermosa Beach, must cope when Archer, her lover, is arrested for murdering his mentally handicapped stepson Tim two years earlier. Shortly after Tim fell to his death from an amusement park ride, Lexi, Archer's wife, died of cancer.

By acting as Archer's attorney, Josie is forced to separate her personal relationship with Archer from their professional one. Ghosts of his past rear their ugly heads as he reveals that while he loved Lexi, he merely tolerated Tim.

The picturesque beauty of the California coast is juxtaposed against the brutality of Tim's death. Forster fans and newcomers alike will empathize with Josie, whose faith in her lover is shaken by the grim possibility that he has a much darker side. The suspense is edgy and complex, and the conclusion is both stunning and well plotted. (Feb., 375 pp., $7.50)
Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick