cover image THE FALLS


Karen Harper, . . Mira, $6.50 (400pp) ISBN 978-1-55166-695-2

An idyllic small town setting is no protection against terror in this tale of painter/interior decorator Claire Malvern and her husband Keith, who leave the pressures of urban life and the corporate world to pursue their dream of opening a rural B&B fishing lodge in the Pacific Northwest. When Keith disappears from bed one night and is later found drowned in the thundering Bloodroot Falls, his death is ruled a suicide by the local sheriff, widower Nick Braden. But Claire is convinced otherwise, and gradually, as her investigations bring ominous secrets to light, Nick begins to agree. Harper (The Stone Garden, etc.) has a fantastic flair for creating and sustaining suspense. By the book's climax, virtually everyone in the region seems a viable suspect, even legendary real-life airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper and Sasquatch. But there's perspiration as well as inspiration involved in building the narrative tension; what makes the author's dramatic plot turns truly work is painstaking background research. This deft knitting of fact and fiction enables Harper to describe everything from wilderness survival to supernatural lore with the kind of detail that convinces readers anything is possible. (June)