cover image Digging Up Momma

Digging Up Momma

Sarah Shankman. Pocket Books, $22 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-671-89753-6

Melodrama reigns in this seventh in the series, which finds Samantha Adams, author of books on the bizarre, starring in her own personal Twilight Zone episode. Sam gets a letter from her mother, who was presumed to have died in a plane crash when Sam was eight, asking for her help. With enough information to sound authentic, the letter prompts Sam to leave New Orleans for Santa Fe immediately. Sam and her mother have a brief reunion, but before explanations are offered, the older woman dies, an apparent suicide. Desperate to understand her mother's past, Sam probes her life in Santa Fe and meets her tenant (an artist who paints cars), her lawyer and other denizens of the desert who fill in some of the blanks for the grieving daughter. What Sam learns makes her doubt the police verdict of suicide. Fleshing out the narrative, Shankman tacks on a subplot about a local televangelist and his wife. The story of Sam's mother exerts an emotional pull--but on easily plucked heartstrings, which, added to an unconvincing villain, diminishes this tale's overall impact. (Feb.)