Crandall (Pitch Black) opens this tense thriller with a 15-year flashback. When teen Ellis Greene's cousin Laura was kidnapped and assaulted, Ellis bravely defied family who wanted to blame Laura's impoverished would-be boyfriend, Nate, and testified against the real culprit, Hollis Alexander. Now out on parole, Hollis bribes journalist Wayne Carr into reinvestigating the case and attacks the emotionally fragile Greene family. Nate comes back to sleepy Belle Island, S.C., and is drawn to Ellis, now a schoolteacher who's unable to open up to her longtime boyfriend, Rory. Yet the chain of events is not as obvious as everyone once thought, and the discoveries Ellis and Nate stumble on are likely to get them killed.
Crandall keeps the tale taut and twisty, drawing a persuasive picture of a family distorted by
unhealed grief and unrevealed secrets. (Feb.)