cover image Before the Storm

Before the Storm

Diane Chamberlain, . . Mira, $13.95 (470pp) ISBN 978-0-7783-2541-3

Chamberlain (The Bay at Midnight ) lays out her latest piece of romantic suspense in a shattered chronology that’s as graceful as it is perfectly paced. Most of the adults in the tightly knit coastal community of Topsail Island, N.C., accept the widowed Laurel Lockwood’s 15-year-old mentally disabled son, Andy. But when Andy saves many of the town’s youth during a tragic fire, he becomes a local hero who garners national attention. Laurel, caught up with making sure Andy is okay, thinks daughter Maggie, a high school senior, can handle herself. What Maggie hides from everyone are her slipping grades, a taboo affair and a terrible secret, and when the fire’s origins are investigated and Andy is a person of interest, events turn progressively darker for the family. Long, juicy flashbacks cover the mysteries of Laurel’s husband’s death, of Andy’s condition and of Laurel’s preoccupation with him. Chamberlain offers no easy solutions, but her engrossing prose leads the way to redemption. (June)