Edited by Andrew F. Guilli and Lamia J. Gulli

Touchstone, 2012 ($15.00)

ISBN-13: 978-1-4516-0738-3

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

This novel is the collaborative effort of twenty-six crime writers, both well-known and on their way. From Jeff Abbott to Marcia Talley, all do an excellent job with their chapter or chapters, achieving a coherent and engaging story. Kathy Reichs handles the chapters on the forensic evidence, an area in which she has much expertise. Even Alexander McCall Smith, not known for writing thrillers or hard-boiled crime, pitches in. David Baldacci provides the introduction, detailing the way the project came together.

In 1998, Christopher Thomas, the curator of the McFall Art Museum, disappeared after having a violent argument with his wife Rosemary at a black tie function. Thomas owed his job and the excellence of the collection of this small San Francisco gem to Rosemary's financial backing and connections, but she's grown tired of his philandering and shady business practices.

A few weeks later, a badly-decomposed body turned up in a strange location, and it was identified as Thomas. All signs pointed to Rosemary as his killer. Testimony by Detective Joe Nunn sealed her fate, and she was given the death sentence. By the time she was executed, however, Nun had begun to doubt her guilt, but it was too little, too late.

Ten years passed, and those touched by the crime fared very differently. Nunn, trying to prove her innocence and riddled by guilt, lost his job and his wife and very nearly his life, saved by Rosemary's friend and staunchest supported, Tony. Rosemary's dissolute, drunken brother, named executor of her will and guardian of her two children, prospered, as did the family attorney. One of Christopher's conquests fell on hard times, becoming an escort and a thief. Another took his place at the helm of the museum.

In her will, Rosemary requested that Tony hold a memorial on the tenth anniversary of her death, gathering all of those people who'd been present at the ill-fated event on the last day Christopher was seen alive. A la Agatha Christie, all the suspects are gathered together, but things don't go as expected.

This is one fine romp, and considering that it was assembled from so many writers, it holds together well, with a nicely done twist at the end. The proceeds of the book's sale are being donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, so one can enjoy a good read and do a good deed at the same time.

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