Time Is a River

Mary Alice Monroe, Author . Pocket $25 (369p) ISBN 978-1-4165-4436-4

Monroe delivers another novel of strong Southern women, and though this one has its share of weak moments, the author's love for her characters is palpable throughout. Mia Landan, a cancer survivor, returns to Charleston after a fly-fishing retreat and finds her husband in bed with another woman. Shocked, Mia rushes back to the mountains where she'd been fishing and seeks the help of fly fisherman Belle Carson, who offers her the use of a ramshackle cabin for the summer. Upon Mia's first trip into town, she learns why the cabin looks like it hasn't been opened in years—it's where Kate Watkins, Belle's grandmother, allegedly murdered her lover. But after Mia conveniently finds Kate's diary tucked away in the cabin, she becomes determined to get to the bottom of things, despite Belle's warnings not to stir up the mud. Through a series of occasionally contrived diary entries, flashbacks and folksy recollections from locals, the narrative juxtaposes Kate's story with Mia's self-discovery, and while the predictable ending results from implausibly convenient plot twists, Monroe's fans will still enjoy the author's spin on love, mystery and the power of self-determination. (July)