cover image The Escape Artist

The Escape Artist

Diane Chamberlain / Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (352p)

A young mother who has a secret in her past and an ache in her heart is the heroine of Chamberlain's (Reflection) latest novel, a fairly pedestrian affair that would do well as a made-for-TV movie. Boulder, Colo., bank secretary Susanna Miller has lost custody of her 11-month-old son, Tyler, to her cold-hearted ex-husband, James, and his new wife, Peggy Myerson, both of whom are lawyers. Telling no one, not even her closest friend, Linc Sebastian (who served a prison term for the murder of Susanna's abusive father and is now a nationally syndicated radio deejay), Susanna decides to flee with Tyler. Assuming new identities for them both, she keeps traveling until they reach Annapolis, Md. As Kim Stratton, she begins looking for work doing data processing from home. When she buys a recently returned ""loaner"" computer, she finds it contains a cryptic list of names, addresses and dates. She also finds herself with a growing attraction to painter Adam Soria and a friendship with his possessive sister, Jessie. Back in Boulder, Peggy has met with Linc and learned that James may not be the caring father he has portrayed himself to be. Meanwhile, Susanna/Kim has realized that two of the names on her computer have been victims of letter bombs and that the next name has a date only a month away. Afraid to contact the police, she finally tells Adam about the list--only to then suspect him of being the bomber. Chamberlain's plot moves are easy to predict, but her pop-psychologizing about motherlove and the feel-good ending will undoubtedly strike chords of empathy in readers. Reader's Digest Condensed Books selection. (Mar.)