cover image The Best of Times

The Best of Times

Penny Vincenzi, . . Doubleday, $25.95 (598pp) ISBN 978-0-385-52824-5

Bestseller Vincenzi's diverting if charmless latest delves into the lives of a massive cast brought together by a multicar accident on a London highway. The brisk, journalistic style makes it hard to fall for any of the characters, whose lives are filled with high and low drama: a truck driver racked with guilt over the accident; his terrified passenger, who flees the scene; a successful doctor trying to break up with his mistress; a groom and best man already late for the wedding due to scandalous circumstances; and a widow headed to reunite with a past love. After the crisis, their lives intertwine tangentially as, among others, the best man starts a relationship with an ER doctor, the truck driver's wife becomes close with the widow, and the mistress falls for the farmer whose land overlooks the accident scene. The story brings them all back together at the inquest, the cause of the accident is revealed and apologies are made. Though everyone gets their predictably happy ending, the way the obvious resolutions drag out makes this something like a once-enjoyable guest who has long outstayed his welcome. (July)