It is August in Comtosook, Vt., yet suddenly the temperature fluctuates wildly, rose petals mysteriously fall like snow, patches of land are completely frozen and roiling garter snakes cover the ground. Suspense and the supernatural are artfully interwoven in this 10th novel by Picoult (Perfect Match, etc.), in which a man desperately seeks to join his fiancée in death, and a 1930s eugenics project comes back to haunt a small town in Vermont. Ever since his beloved Aimee was killed in a car accident, Ross Wakeman has deliberately put himself at risk, hoping to die. When nothing works, and a job with a paranormal investigator brings him no closer to Aimee, he moves in with his sister, Shelby, in Comtosook. As chance would have it, strange phenomena are plaguing the town, and Ross is drawn into an investigation of a piece of land that local Abenaki Indians claim is an old burial ground. In the process, he meets lovely Lia Beaumont, who has some mysterious connection to sinister goings-on 70 years before in Comtosook. Many more characters are essential to the elaborate, engrossing plot, including Spencer Pike, once a eugenics expert and now a tormented old man in a nursing home; Meredith Oliver, a genetic diagnostician with an uncanny resemblance to Lia Beaumont; and Ross's eight-year-old nephew, Ethan, who suffers from a condition that makes him allergic to sunlight. Picoult's ability to bring them all vividly to life is remarkable. Firmly rooting her otherworldly tale in everyday reality, she produces a spellbinding suspense novel offering insight into the human spirit and the depths of true love. (Apr.)
Forecast:With this foray into the fantastic, Picoult proves there's little she can't do. National advertising and a 14-city author tour should help propel the book onto bestseller lists.