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by Mary Higgins Clark

Simon & Schuster, 2001
ISBN: 0-74-320602-9

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Newly-divorced criminal defense attorney Emily Graham wants to leave behind bitter memories of her marriage, as well as the trauma of being stalked by a deranged mental patient, so she leaves Albany to join a prestigious firm in Manhattan. She also decides to purchase her ancestral home in the idyllic New Jersey seaside town of Spring Lake, where things seem little changed in the last one hundred years. She is able to do so because of a fortunate turn of events. She had helped a friend, Eric Bailey, when his fledging company was sued by a major software provider, and he paid her in stocks. When his company took off, she sold them for a hefty profit. Her timing was fortunate; soon after she sold out, the company began to fail.

In 1892 Emily's great aunt, Madeline Shapley, was the first of four young women to disappear without a trace. Four years before Emily's move to Spring Lake, another young woman, Martha Lawrence, also vanished, and she would not be the last. When two bodies, one buried long ago and one much newer, turn up in Emily's backyard during an excavation for a swimming pool, the town begins a nightmare in which history seems to be repeating itself. Has a nineteenth century killer been reincarnated, or is there a more rational, but no less deadly, explanation? As if things aren't bad enough, Emily soon realizes that her stalker may not be the man safely locked up in an upstate mental hospital, but someone very close by.

The reader is privy to the twisted thoughts and plans of the killer throughout the book. In the usual Higgins Clark formula, we are aware that he is probably someone Emily is acquainted with, possibly someone she thinks she knows well and trusts. Even though the plot is familiar, the details are fresh and interesting, the descriptions of the different locales are vivid, and the characters are well-defined and believable.

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