In a radical departure from their previous books (bestselling fantasies like The Belgariad
and The Mallorean), the Eddings focus on the mysterious bonds between identical twins in this fast-paced psychological thriller that's part ghost story. The authors skillfully weave together the threads of twins Regina and Renata's life as seen through the eyes of Mark, a family friend and the twins' surrogate big brother. With identical DNA and so similar that even their mother can't tell them apart, the twins have developed their own language. When one is viciously murdered, the other regresses into this language and is committed to an institution. No one is sure which of the twins has survived, but they come to believe it is Renata. When Mark visits, she recognizes him, starts to recover but has no memory of the past. Mark, a graduate student, helps her return to the real world through campus life in Seattle and the aid of his housemates. When Renata recovers enough to lodge with her aunt, a police officer on the graveyard shift, she suffers terrible mood swings. Meanwhile, Seattle is plagued by a series of grisly homicides suggesting a serial killer. Mark, heavily troubled, comes to the chilling realization that the killings may be connected to Renata's frenzied outbursts and resolves to watch her closely. In a climactic nocturnal vigil, he discovers that there could be a disturbing supernatural explanation and that he and his housemates must use all their skills to protect the fragile girl they have come to care for. (July 1)
Forecast:While marketing and promotion will target SF and fantasy venues, many Eddings fans are likely to be disappointed to find this novel so removed from the authors' usual. Handselling to thriller readers may or may not take up the slack.