cover image Looking for Peyton Place

Looking for Peyton Place

Barbara Delinsky, . . Scribner, $24.95 (358pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-4644-6

With her mother deceased and her older sister suffering similar symptoms, successful 30-something novelist Annie Barnes turns detective—Erin Brokovich-style—when she reluctantly returns to her "stifling, stagnant, and cruel" New Hampshire hometown of Middle River in Delinsky's diverting latest (after The Summer I Dared ). A company town dominated by Northbrook Paper Mill, owned by the powerful Meades, Middle River's real claim to fame, according to Annie and other townspeople, is that it was the model for the once notorious bestseller Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. Annie's neighbors are equally sure that she's returned to dig up their dirt, and, like Metalious, write about it. Though Annie is less concerned with gossip than possible mercury poisoning, Metalious speaks to her from beyond the grave, egging her on in her investigation. The plucky heroine also begins a flirty e-mail conversation with a Deep Throat who calls himself "TrueBlue" and hints at Northbrook Mill's dark doings. And against all odds, handsome Meade scion James seems to be an ally in her environmental crusade. Readers with an appetite for light fare will find all the right ingredients—romance, mystery, suspense, sisterly rivalry and a thoroughly happy ending. (July)