Young veterinarian Rachel Goddard's world begins to crumble when a client rushes into the animal hospital with a basset hound struck by a car during a thunderstorm. The dog owner's terrified tot, drenched with rain, loses sight of her mother in the flurry of activity and screams, "Mommy! I want Mommy!" Instantly Rachel is hurled back in time to a day in her own childhood when her baby sister Michelle uttered the same cry while thunder crashed and rain poured down on them. The unearthed memory feels like a fragment from a nightmare, and Rachel doesn't understand its meaning or the anguish it stirs up in her.
When she seeks answers she learns nothing from Michelle or from Judith, their loving but manipulative mother. Judith is a psychologist who is only too happy to have her adult daughters still living in her elegant Tudor house outside Washington, DC. But their apparently serene home is a house of secrets where Judith's unspoken rules forbid questions about the family history or the daughters' long-dead father. As more baffling memories surface, Rachel begins to suspect that nothing about her family is what it seems. Fighting her mother's attempts to control her, Rachel embarks on a quest that takes her deep into her own memory as well as halfway across the country. The heartbreaking truth she uncovers will shatter her world and force her to make an unthinkable choice.
The Heat of the Moon is Sandra Parshall's first novel.
In Parshall's strong debut, a frightening psychological mystery, veterinarian Rachel Goddard is happy with her job at an animal hospital in McLean, Va., until the rainy day one of her favorite patients, a basset hound named Maude, is hit by a car. During the frantic moments when Maude's owner, Mrs. Coleman, delivers the injured dog to the hospital, Rachel finds herself trying to comfort the woman's three-year-old daughter, Kristin, who's upset because she's temporarily separated from her mother. This traumatic incident reminds Rachel of her younger sister as a child, provoking flashbacks that begin to haunt and torment her. The hospital's attractive new head doctor, Luke Campbell, can't quell her anguish as she searches for answers about her past, against the wishes of her own controlling mother and sister. Luke's behavior at a dinner party in one scene is unconvincing, but otherwise the characters are believable and natural. The fresh, mesmerizing plot will keep readers turning the pages to the very end. (June)
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Poisoned Pen Press
April 02, 2007
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