Joy Fielding, Author . Atria $25 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7434-4629-7

Motherly love fuels this latest romantic suspense novel by Fielding (Whispers and Lies; Grand Avenue; etc.), set in Toronto during the city's international film festival. When Julia—beautiful 21-year-old actress, imperious bitch-goddess—goes missing after a screen test with a famous director, her disappearance touches off a full-blown midlife crisis for her mother, Cindy. As Cindy searches for Julia, she envisions lurid crime scenarios, wrangles with her charming snake of an ex-husband and his trophy wife and comes to the uncomfortable realization that she and her selfish, irresponsible daughter have a few things in common. She copes by hashing out issues with her whiny sister, sharp-tongued mother and long-suffering younger daughter, by nurturing infants and pets and by having great sex with a handsome and preternaturally attentive new boyfriend. Crammed with stock situations and expected revelations, this breezy melodrama relies heavily on hit-or-miss repartee. Fielding fills space by having characters repeat one another's dialogue; a comic subplot about an incontinent dog is intrusive and tedious; and the drama takes place mostly in the heroine's head. Cindy herself is a likable mixture of brashness, panic and pratfalls, and readers will empathize as she tries to find her daughter and herself, but she is the lone bright spot in this lackluster effort. Fielding's many fans will miss her usual sharp plotting, but most will go along for the ride. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/11/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
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Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-2964-8
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Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4391-2017-0
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