Bleeding Heart

Martha Powers, Author
Martha Powers, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-86610-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-0-7434-2293-2
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-7432-1141-3
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Every family's worst nightmare haunts Powers's latest thriller (after Sunflower), in which toddler Tyler McKenzie is snatched from a Cleveland department store. Eighteen months later, in a seemingly unrelated incident, an elderly Wisconsin man named George Collier is stabbed to death at his country club. Local police conclude that a neighborhood vagrant, Tully Jackson, killed George in a botched robbery attempt, but George's widowed daughter-in-law, Maggie, is unconvinced, since Tully is gentle, kind, and a friend of Maggie's young son, Jake. When handsome Chicago lawyer Grant Holbrook shows up looking for George, he's unaware the man is dead, but after he reveals that George, at his country club, passed around some photos of the missing child, the connection is made: the night George showed the photos, he was killed. Grant is Tyler's uncle, tipped off by a mutual friend that the old man may have stumbled onto the missing boy's whereabouts. The question is: which of George's country club cronies saw those incriminating photos--and will that person next harm Maggie, Grant--or Jake? Powers populates the town of Delbrook, Wis., with memorably off-kilter types, smiling folk who sport tiny ""bleeding heart"" tattoos and a creepy penchant for eagle feathers. Though Maggie and Grant's meeting is impossibly cute (she whacks him in the head with a canoe paddle), they develop into likably cranky amateur sleuths, obviously destined for romance. But the hyperactive plot, strained resolution and frequently stilted dialogue will remind readers that Powers's nightmare is a far cry from real life. (Aug.)
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