Pretty photographer Maggie Holloway begins Clark's latest (after Silent Night) lying in a coffin buried in a grave, pulling desperately at a string that leads to a bell with no clapper. How she got there is the essence of a convoluted tale of a ritzy Newport, R.I., retirement home whose well-heeled residents seem to die with alarming frequency, leading to high-profit turnover of their apartments there. Latest to shed her mortal coil was Maggie's much-loved stepmother, a fact that led intrepid Maggie to take an unwise amount of interest in the deaths-and also to question why several of the graves seemed to have little funerary bells on them. As usual with Clark, there is a stalwart admirer whose love does not immediately speak its name, and a surfeit of suspicious characters, including a scholarly funeral nut, a shady investment broker, a venal lawyer, a drunken, inept doctor and a nosy nurse. There's some fun in the sprightly Newport oldsters, and the many scenes and characters are shifted around smoothly and with a practiced hand. The bells gimmick seems no more than that, however, and the book is light on thrills-though there's nothing to put off Clark's myriad fans. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection; Reader's Digest Condensed Books selection; paperback rights to Pocket Books; author tour. (May).
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996 Release date: 04/01/1996 Genre: Fiction