cover image Sooner or Later

Sooner or Later

Elizabeth Adler. Delacorte Press, $22.95 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31595-1

Orphaned young when her parents hurtled their Bentley to the bottom of a ravine, beautiful 29-year-old Ellie Duveen becomes the focus of evil stepbrother Buck's designs to snatch her inheritance in Adler's (Now or Never) brisk ninth tale of romantic suspense. Not one to dawdle while her beloved grandmother continues to control the dwindling family fortune, resourceful Ellie operates a trendy restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif. Enter the love interest: handsome Dan Cassidy, formerly a NYPD detective and now a vintner, whose last case involved the brutal unsolved murder of a prostitute. Adler identifies Buck, recently discharged from a gothic sanitarium, as the culprit and pulses start to pound. Buck, who has the psychopath's ability to charm as well as chill, stalks Elie in rather drawn-out sequences, but when the pace finally picks up, Adler delivers an ending with punch. An exhilarating trip for those addicted to the genre, the novel may disappoint readers seeking narrative subtlety. Adler has a penchant for brand names: Aubusson carpets and Vacheron watches are de rigueur, and it seems her men never put on a shirt without a notable label or fabric. Yet even readers with a low tolerance for these foibles may find themselves drooling over the food at Ellie's restaurant, which Adler describes with mouth-watering gusto. (Jan.)