Time and Trouble

Gillian Roberts, Author Thomas Dunne Books $18.99 (372p) ISBN 978-0-312-18673-9
Veteran Roberts (the Amanda Pepper series) introduces a new sleuthing pair, Northern California's Emma Howe, middle-aged owner of a middling investigative firm, and Billie August, a young single mother whom Emma hires and whose experience consists solely of having located her toddler son after his father kidnapped him. On her first surveillance, Billie videotapes Sophia Redmond (who claims a fall on the sidewalk has left her disabled), running down steps, but she bungles the taping and is left with no proof. Emma and Billie are astonished when Sophia, back in her wheelchair, shows up with her husband to hire them to locate their missing teenage daughter, Penny. Readers know that Penny has attached herself to a group of medievalists and has found a heart-shaped pendant and the bones of a baby in a field where they are practicing for a fair. The police then find a woman's skeleton nearby. Braiding the points of view of Emma, Billie and Penny, Roberts connects her subplots via the missing girl, the elusive mistress and the pendant. The stakes get serious when Penny decides to help her mother get free from her husband's abusive domination by photographing the woman with whom she believes her father is having an affair. Despite unlikely coincidences, Roberts peels away layers from each character's life, leaving the reader with a suspenseful, affecting tale. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/13/1998
Release date: 04/01/1998
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