Patricia MacDonald has captivated readers worldwide with her page-turning suspense novels that are filled with surprising twists and turns and psychologically perceptive characterizations. Now MacDonald delivers her most masterful work to date -- a chilling thriller about a woman who, while investigating her sister's death in a house fire of suspicious origin, uncovers the work of a twisted killer who has taken refuge in an idyllic Vermont town.
When Boston cable television news producer Britt Andersen learns of the death of her beautiful sister, Greta, she heads straight for her sister's hometown. Estranged from Greta since their father died, Britt meets for the first time her attractive brother-in-law, Alec Lynch, the owner of a successful snowmobile dealership, and her eleven-year-old niece, Zoe, who narrowly escaped the fire with her life. Surprised by the emotional bond that springs up between her and Zoe, Britt decides to spend time with her sister's family to help her niece recover from the tragedy. But soon Britt clashes with her brother-in-law and picks up clues about her sister's unhappy marriage and Alec's likely infidelity.
When the fire marshal discovers the house fire was set deliberately, Britt pushes the police to question Alec more closely. An outsider in a small town whose ways she doesn't understand, Britt finds it difficult to sort the truth from the gossip and the innuendos. Why does Dr. Olivia Farrar, with whom Greta worked, hold a grudge against Alec? Is pretty Lauren Rossi merely Alec's devoted employee or "the other woman"? And what do the Carmichaels, Alec's former neighbors, really know about the events that led to the deadly conflagration? When Britt learns a closely guarded family secret she begins to question everything she believed about her sister's life and death...and unwittingly places herself on a collision course with a killer.
With a vibrant cast of memorable characters, unerring insight into the dark side of human nature and exciting twists of plot, Suspicious Origin holds readers engrossed as it races to its stunning, emotionally charged conclusion.
Some clever hiding of clues in plain sight distinguishes Edgar nominee MacDonald's (The Unforgiven) otherwise unremarkable contemporary thriller. Britt Andersen finds herself playing Nancy Drew after Greta, her estranged older sister, perishes in a fire that also almost claims the life of her 11-year-old niece, Zoe. Remorseful at having lost her chance at reconciliation, Britt leaves Boston, where she produces a late-night news talk show, for the rural Vermont community where her sister lived and died. Her intended short stay for the funeral is extended both by unexpected feelings of connection to Zoe and by the alarming news that the fatal blaze was of "suspicious origin," a phrase that develops a personal resonance when she learns that Greta was trying to locate their mother, who'd deserted them when they were little. After her brother-in-law starts behaving oddly, Britt joins forces with a local reporter to build a case against him. Predictably, Britt too becomes the target of arson and attempted murder. While the author plays fair by giving reasonable hints that still allow for a pleasurable surprise twist, her paper-thin characters generate little interest. A successful professional who must have considerable emotional intelligence to do her job, Britt acts as if the most basic human feelings of love and attachment are an unknowable mystery. Her strictly amateur sleuthing succeeds only by accident. Readers for whom romance matters more than crime-solving, however, will like the hopeful, heart-warming ending. FYI:MacDonald is a bestselling author in France.