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by P.J. Parrish
Pocket Books, February 2013
422 pages
ISBN: 1439189374

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Defrocked police officer-turned-cold case detective Louis Kincaid has found something he did not know he had lost - a daughter, Lily, born to a long-ago lover. On a father-daughter bonding vacation to Mackinac Island, Lily stumbles upon a pile of human bones. Louis finds himself agreeing to help the affable Mackinac Island chief of police Jack Flowers find the owner of the skeleton. Unfortunately, the skull is missing. And, unfortunately, tiny bones, as delicate as a bird's, nestled with the skeleton, prove to be those of a fetus.

The dramatis personae themselves set up the workings of the tale as winter claims the island, isolates it, and the last tourists leave the locals to endure: bitter state detective Norm Rafsky, inclined towards physical abuse of suspects and verbal abuse of anyone else; Julie Chapman, daughter of a wealthy executive, member of one of the wealthy "summer families" on Mackinac Island who went missing twenty-one years ago; Julie's father, a whisper of a man, dying; Joe Frye, whose police job in Michigan keeps her too far away from her lover, Louis; Louis Kincaid, Florida cold-case detective, fired as a policeman in Michigan when he shot his corrupt chief to save a boy; Danny Dancer, hermit who has stolen and kept Julie's skull, likely Asperger's victim, possible murderer; Kyla, who chose to bear and mother Louis' daughter; Carol Flowers, ex-wife of Jack Flowers, now living in Kansas; Maisey Barrow, African-American house-keeper to Julie's family, and keeper of family secrets; Cooper Lange, who once had a schoolboy crush on Julie; Rhonda Grasso, also missing, sexually charged teen who hung around with Julie and Cooper's crowd.

As the tale unfolds, we learn many things, but not all of them concern the identification of skeletons. Maisie and Louis, of the same racial heritage, cannot communicate freely because of their differing social class; children can heal the heart's wounds or leave holes in families that cannot be mended; intuition, patience and kindness, not force, open secrets of the heart; love and tolerance can stretch over long distances; sometimes, when it seems most broken, but it is most needed, it comes.

Kelly Nichols, who makes her home in Michigan, and who is one-half of the sisterly writing team whose nom de plume is P J Parrish reveals Michigan socio-economic strata and, a final and important character, its weather.

Cathy Downs, Professor of English at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, is a longtime devotee of the well-turned whodunit.

Reviewed by Cathy Downs, January 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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