Caroline Slate, Author . Atria $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7434-1890-4

Slate's crisply written second novel (following The House on Sprucewood Lane) comes on like a high-stakes thriller, yet turns out to be more of a searching character study. The novel opens with a provocative news clipping from 1995: famed New York jewelry designer Grace Leshanky has shot her husband, Paul Boudreau. Released from prison in late 2002, Grace, now 40, struggles to put the pieces of her life back together. She takes a job as a headhunter for her high-powered friend Sheilah and becomes the confidante of co-worker Craig, a barfly constantly looking for Mr. Right Now. Grace also copes with, among others, an unsympathetic parole officer who's probably the victim of domestic abuse and an unethical tabloid reporter who relentlessly hounds her about penning a memoir. The narrative flashes back to different stages of Grace's life: her marriage to Paul; an unusual childhood with charismatic grifter father George (who disappeared and was possibly murdered while she was in prison); her first love, of a callow blueblood who beds and abandons her. Slate creates fascinating, full-bodied characters and captures the nuances of friendship in a compelling way. It's these relationships that are the heart of the story; though Slate expertly builds suspense over the disappearance of George and the killing of Paul, she never quite delivers. There are several mini-mysteries with attendant revelations, but none carry the satisfaction of a "solution" or even a climax. The captivating work is well worth reading, but mystery fans, be warned. Agent, Loretta Barrett. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-4165-7363-0
Open Ebook - 978-0-7434-2252-9
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