River's End

Nora Roberts, Author Putnam $23.95 (420p) ISBN 978-0-399-14470-7
Her signature florid style again serving a suspenseful mystery combined with a fated romance, bestselling Roberts (Hot Ice) tells a Helter Skelter-type Hollywood horror story lurid with murder, drugs and insanity. One summer night in 1979, four-year-old Olivia Tanner finds her doped-up father, Sam, bloodied shears in hand, poised over the dead body of her movie-star mom. Haunted by the image of ""the monster"" pursuing her, Olivia is sent to live with her grandparents in the Pacific Northwest, where she is sheltered from her memories by towering Douglas firs. Two decades later, the specter of the ""monster"" returns. From prison, her father urges young investigative reporter Noah Brady--son of the police detective who discovered Olivia after the murder--to research the crime. Noah accepts this task eagerly, heedless of Olivia's rebuffs and undeterred by violence and danger, especially after Olivia begins to remember the crime. The denouement brings both of them into a bloody confrontation with the past. Roberts's careful research, particularly into the ecosystems of the forests of the Pacific Northwest, makes for vibrant background detail. Her artful manipulation of the plot, contrived so that amour and horror escalate in tandem, reaffirms her ability to deliver entertaining fiction. 275,000 first printing; 300,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selection; author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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