cover image Suspicion


Barbara Rogan. Simon & Schuster, $24 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-684-81415-5

""Sometimes houses choose people,"" writes Rogan in her sixth novel (A Heartbeat Away), thus setting the mood for a contemporary ghost story. Novelist Emma Roth, who specializes in tales of the supernatural, has mixed feelings when her physicist husband decides that they and their 10-year-old son, Zack, should move from Manhattan to Long Island's Morgan Peak, where they buy the isolated former home of an elderly schoolteacher rumored to have murdered her husband. Emma's sister Maggie provides caustic commentary and good-natured teasing for what she perceives is her sister's quintessentially yuppie move to the country. Other key figures include Caroline, a psychologist who rents the carriage house on the premises; Nick, Zack's soccer coach; and Yolanda, a most unconventional soccer mom. Soon, however, Emma is terrorized by an escalating series of domestic and supernatural disturbances--including eerie personal messages on her computer. It's not clear until the right moment whether Emma's own secrets are haunting her, or whether a technologically savvy ghost is trying to drive her mad. The third possibility is worse: someone close to her wants her to die. As Emma is forced to reevaluate each of her companions, she must also reconsider her skeptical view of ghosts. It takes Emma too long to figure things out, and Rogan employs a trite device to stage the novel's ending. Otherwise, this absorbing tale is artfully told, with cleverly integrated subplots addressing marital fidelity and class anxiety; rising suspense and vividly nuanced characters who come alive through snappy, irreverent dialogue. Agent, Joy Harris. BOMC featured alternate. (Feb.)