cover image Deadfall


Patti Davis. Crown Publishers, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-57405-8

In her absorbing second novel, Davis ( Home Front ) brings home with praiseworthy restraint the horror of random violence against civilians in a civil war. Darren Laverty insists on accompanying her filmmaker husband Andrew on his trip to Nicaragua to shoot footage for a documentary film. There she is exposed to the ugly side of Central American government policies: In a small village, a young American schoolteacher whom she has befriended is killed by a land mine as Darren watches. Later, Andrew returns to Nicaragua, alone, to reshoot material that was ``lost''--and comes back with evidence that Americans have been active in the death squads. Then Andrew is killed when a California church, providing sanctuary to a group of illegal refugees, is blown up. Determined to confront those responsible, Darren enlists the help of liberal senator Kent Janes (with whom she has an affair) and seasoned foreign correspondent Sean Trudell (whom she grows to love). Using the facts of today's headlines as a backdrop for Darren's search for peace of mind, Davis has created an appealing character. (Oct.)