Berkley Publishing Group, December 2004
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
Tess Carson receives an emergency call from the elementary school in California where her niece attends. The principal informs her that her sister, Tori, didn't pick Caitlin up after school and Tess is listed as the only contact person. Tess catches the first flight out of New York to pick up her niece in a remote California town. Tori has never been the most responsible person, but she would never abandon her daughter. When Tess arrives in Mountain Bend she discovers that Tori's employer is dead and her missing sister is the prime suspect.
Grant and Craig Weston are the sons of Tori's employer. They are the most likely source of information to help her locate her missing sister. Grant is a movie star who has retired from the Hollywood movie industry. He has returned to Mountain Bend to take over his father's ranch and to train stunt horses. Craig is the principal at Caitlin's elementary school.
Tess finds herself caught up in a strange situation. Her sister is missing and Caitlin is withdrawn and traumatized by her mother's disappearance. There is some sort of chemistry between Tess and Grant, but he resents her questions and suspicions. Craig, who is helpful and polite, is always dropping by to check on her, but she doesn't completely trust either brother. And then there are the sudden day dreams that occur out of the blue. They hurl her backward in time, causing her to step into the drama of a family going west on a wagon train to California. On top of all this, someone is stalking her, leaving frightening messages meant to drive her away from Mountain Bend.
ECHOES is Erin Grady's debut suspense novel. The suspense and mystery plot is very well done. I was hooked from the first page and hated to have to put it down. ECHOES is marketed as a romantic suspense novel, but I found the suspense element to be much stronger than the romantic relationship. There is little of a romantic nature between Tess and Grant to justify the happily ever-after ending in this chilling murder mystery. Tess, Tori, little Caitlin and Craig were all well-developed characters but there was too much missing from the characterization of Grant Weston.
I don't know if this story should be classified as time-travel, paranormal or ghost story, there is no explanation ever given for the day dream scenes that Tess experiences. The title, ECHOES, is all the enlightenment readers will get for the phenomenon Tess goes through, however the transition between storylines was believable and interesting. Erin Grady is an author to watch and I recommend ECHOES as an entertaining and suspenseful mystery by a new author.
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