cover image SUMMERTIME


Liz Rigbey, . . Putnam, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-399-15094-4

Eight years after her well-received debut, Total Eclipse, Rigbey returns with another psychological suspense novel, ambitiously conceived but frustratingly disjointed. Overpopulated and overly complicated, the murky plot advances in fits and starts. The pacing is disrupted by frequent flashbacks to the lives of the various members of two generations of the family of a former Russian KGB agent who defected with his wife and three daughters to California—and families of their friends and neighbors as well. Narrated as the first-person account of the granddaughter of the Russian defector, ambitious young investment banker Lucy Schaffer, the story opens three years after Lucy has abandoned her husband and family and fled to New York to forget the tragic death of her infant son. Called home to California when her father's corpse is pulled from the Pacific, Lucy is told that he may have been murdered. She is delegated the responsibility of tying up the loose ends of the estate, and she also takes on the task of investigating the mystifying circumstances surrounding her father's strange peregrinations on the day of his death. Meanwhile, she is forced to confront repressed memories of growing up as the younger daughter of a schizophrenic mother and a father raised by religious zealots. Rigbey's prose is smooth, but even those patient enough to endure the novel's blind alleys and red herrings will be frustrated by the contrived twists at the end. (Aug.)