Charmed Circle

Carol Smith, Author Warner Books $23.5 (355p) ISBN 978-0-446-52238-0
When 27-year-old Londoner Joanna ""Jo"" Lyndhurst, protagonist of Smith's disappointing second romantic suspense novel (after Friends for Life) decides to take a pre-Christmas jaunt to Antigua without her longtime lover Sebastian, she befriends an international group of six other visitors who reconvene each year in the Caribbean. The group seems straight out of central casting. Aside from cool medical practitioner Jo, there are the Fontaines, a mother/daughter duo of pathetically faded Southern debs; an overzealous British music festival planner named Jessica; a gay Boston Brahmin mama's boy of a judge (named Lowell Brooks) and his young, Dutch lover, Vincent; and banker Merrily Morgenstern, an offensive stereotype, identified as a ""pushy New Yorker."" When Vincent turns up murdered it's no surprise, since the deed is foreshadowed on page one. A creepy and improbable triangle involving Jo, Sebastian and Jessica ensues even as more deaths occur, and Jo proves herself to be a monumentally obtuse heroine. Despite several attempted red herrings, there's never a doubt as to the identity of the insane killer. Smith moves her narrative along smoothly, however, and creates enough romantic entanglements and complications for a passable beach read. (July) FYI: Smith is a literary agent in London.
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
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