Betsy Thornton, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-33319-5

At the start of Thornton's fourth intricate puzzle to feature Chloe Newcombe (after 2002's Ghost Towns ), the Cochise County, Ariz., victim's advocate is assigned to assist artist Heather Stephens after Heather's husband, carpenter Terry Barnett, is found dead in his burning barn. The problem is, Chloe hired Terry to make a bookcase for her and in the process was attracted to him. During dinner across the border in Mexico, Terry told her he was married, and she refused to see him again. Chloe's concern for Heather, when it becomes clear that Terry was shot first, drives her to try to unravel some highly tangled relationships in search of the killer. Did his wife tire of his infidelities? Was there a dissatisfied client? What of his estranged brother in Ohio? Terry went back there for a time to care for his dying mother and contacted a childhood friend. Herself a victim's advocate, Thornton writes what she knows. She takes great care in describing this community whose members are bound together in spite of their need for independence. In showing more than one type of victim, the author doesn't shy away from the possibility of failure on Chloe's part. She keeps Chloe and the reader just a bit off kilter right up to the closing teaser about her heroine's future. Agent, Vicky Bijur. (Nov. 17)

Reviewed on: 08/30/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Paperback - 270 pages - 978-1-5173-5189-2
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