|Shari Shattuck delves into the paranormal with a suspense novel set in the Los Angeles suburban area. Greer Sands has the ability of seeing auras and hints of trouble or danger upon meeting some people. She disguises her abilities having learned the hard way that everyone is not a believer.
Greer has just opened a very successful salon and spa with her business partner Dario. After her divorce, her ex-husband became Dario's significant other, Her ex-husband is now deceased, but Greer has the best of the marriage, her teenage son Joshua. Joshua has been understanding of her psychic abilities and Greer is beginning to realize that Joshua has inherited some of her talents.
In getting to know her neighbors, Greer is struck by the sense of extraordinary danger around three of her new female acquaintances. The first surrounds Joy, the troubled teenage daughter of her next-door neighbors. Joshua has not overlooked this young girl
either and he becomes troubled by things he seems to know about her and visions he has concerning her.
Life in the town is focused on a young girl who had been missing but had been discovered near death, presently in the hospital.
Joy is on the slippery slope of drug use and dangerous acquaintances. One day Joy disappears and both Joshua and Greer have psychic revelations that Greer believes to be clues the police might use. Her dealings with the police gain some credibility when she is
able to tell them information on the young girl in the hospital that has not been released to the public. The police are forced to acknowledge that they have a serial rapist and potential murderer living among them.
Shattuck is particularly good in the creation of her myriad of characters that comprise life in the business community of small town America. These characters are carefully drawn, interesting and diverse. The other two females she senses danger lurking around them
are strong secondary characters in this story, obviously being groomed to take leading roles in subsequent novels.
Joy is indeed the prisoner of the twisted rapist, identity unknown. He is clearly a part of the community and the reader knows he is one of the strong secondary characters Shattuck has introduced. Shattuck creates suspicion around most of the male characters, making each a prime suspect.
The pleasure in the reading of this story is not the appreciation of the usual tensions, either romantic or suspense laden, but in the actual glimpses into the lives of the town residents. Subplots abound, not the least of which is Joshua's realization that he has
psychic abilities, and must come to terms with them.
Joshua utilizes them in his self styled mission of trying to find Joy. The book evolves into the resolution, and although not necessarily predictable, the revelation of the case is not as exciting as the reader thinks it will be. In this strong precise story peopled with richly diverse characters, the climax becomes the weakest part.
All in all, this is almost a gently told story utilizing paranormal skills to solve a kidnapping in a smallish California suburban town.