cover image Cold in Earth: A Novel of Psychological Suspence

Cold in Earth: A Novel of Psychological Suspence

Melissa Jones, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-19249-5

The sudden death of an infant shatters a London family's sense of well-being in Jones's highly stylized crime novel. Told in alternating points of view, the account begins with the diary of the child's mother, 44-year-old Zoe, a TV talk-show host, who is reeling from the crib death of her baby, Beth. (Zoe and her husband, Michael, already have two boys entering adolescence.) The mood darkens when Zoe meets with former show guest and New Age psychiatrist Lillian Taylor, who bewitches Zoe and is depicted as either a savior or the devil. What begins as a psychological novel about the strains of family life suddenly changes gears as Michael, writing from jail after having been accused of killing Zoe, tells his side of the story. He must prove, through his lawyer and brother-in-law, Felix, that ""our family is innocent of everything except the fact that evil made itself manifest in our midst and that we were powerless to withstand it."" Jones shows more interest in clues than insight, especially in the next section, written by Felix, the husband of Zoe's sister, Laura. His investigations implicate many characters and are meant to let the audience play along. When Laura becomes pregnant, the murderer's journal appears, revealing plans to strike again. But Michael guesses who it is (as will most readers), and, in a sudden climax, the killer is caught red-handed. Though the pacing occasionally stumbles, this intelligent, suspenseful work offers something to both mainstream fiction audiences and mystery fans. Editor, Charles Spicer; agent, Clare Conville at A.P. Watt in London. (Sept.)