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"A marriage of a high-toned love story and a nut-and-bolts mystery plot."

----Jonathan Dee, Pulitzer Prize nominee for The Privileges.

"Five stars. A wonderfully written page-turner."

---Readers’ Favorite

"Lilting, soulful prose. An urbane, existential mystery with emotional urgency, a tense exploration of devotion and loss that hits hard."

----BookLife (Editor's Pick)

"The narrative is both fast-paced and contemplative. A tightly wound mystery."

----Kirkus Reviews

"A fast-paced plot makes for a high-concept read from its heartfelt start to its heart-stopping climax. . . .timeless noir-style fiction with a clear-eyed look at the existential questions of what we are made for and with whom we are meant to share our lives."


A tale of desire, adultery and crime—both a love story and a mystery inseparably intertwined.  

Vera, a woman recovering from the loss of her child, disappears one night from a park in New York City. Jake Garrett, a writer with whom she had an intense, adulterous affair ten years earlier, learns of her disappearance in a surprising late-night visit from her husband. Even more surprising: the husband asks Jake to help find her.  

Jake is thrust back into a world he thought had been lost to him forever. It’s Jake’s undying love for Vera that propels his search for her through the night-time streets of the city and, finally, on the remote beaches of the Carolina coast. At its heart the story pulses with the greatest mystery of all, the Self. Both Jake and Vera, in their separate ways, are forced to confront the most vital human questions: why we do what we do, how we make amends for a life gone wrong, and how in the darkness of night, we see ourselves in the clearest light.  

One chance, that’s how I saw it.  

For love, the true kind.  

One chance.  

Play hard, play to win. You blow it, well, you spend the rest of your life alone. Or you drift, ghost-haunted, woman to woman. Which pretty much summed up my life since Vera and I split. I thought love, the enduring sort, had kissed me goodbye. 

Past midnight, that’s the way you think. The way I think.  

I was hunched over the typewriter, re-reading the last lines I’d written: another of my hardboiled detective stories with what I liked to think of as a metaphysical edge. The street was dark and empty. Morrison moved to the head of the alley. He hesitated before its long tunnel of shadows. He’d always been wary of dark places. Too many childhood nightmares. Memories, too. But he pushed those aside. He knew he had to face what awaited him—the gunman or one of his victims. And now he moved into the alley itself, snub-nosed revolver in hand. . .  

Downstairs someone was knocking.  

No one came at this hour. Not even Connie, the woman I was seeing at the time. Yet the knocking continued.  

From my window the caller was hidden by the leaves of a beech tree. What I could see was the courtyard below and the narrow alley, dark with shadow, leading to the street.  

My door opened directly into the courtyard. Outside, framed against the newly green fluorescence of the beech, stood a man of medium build with thinning, sand-colored hair, his face partially in leaf-shadow. Leaning toward me. Hands shoved deep in his pockets. Shoulders trembling though it was a mild night that smelled of flowers and courtyard grass. 

“How are you, Jake?” he said. “I deeply apologize for the intrusion at this ungodly hour, but I saw your light was on and—” He stared at me like a man clinging to a lifeboat. “And so I knew you were still up, still writing. You see, I’ve been here before, the past few nights, watching from the alley.” 

He stopped himself and shrugged in apology. “That sounds awful, I know. I’m sorry. I’m no stalker. It’s just that. . .I could see you in the window, typing, so I knew—”  

He left the sentence hanging and thrust out his hand. “It’s Norm Davison.” 

It took a moment to connect the face to the man I’d known. 

“Vera’s husband,” he said. “I didn’t know who else to turn to.” 

Stunned, I stood there holding the door, ignoring the outstretched hand.  

Ten years had taken off some weight, thinned his hair, narrowed the contours of his face. He wore glasses now. He seemed tentative, the way he held himself. Last time I saw him he wore the same disconcerted, helpless look. A man enduring the force of an avalanche.   

“There’s an all night café up the street,” I said. “We can talk there.” Given our history, no way did I want the man in my house. 

The street was empty. The café, too. Dark as usual with its ebony woodwork and heavy wooden tables. Shadows that fell like mist. A place the remaining artist-types left in the West Village, and misfits of one sort or another, came to drift deeper into themselves. 

A beer for Davison, double espresso for me. 

The man took a long pull, tilting his head back and sucking greedily from the bottle. Setting it down squarely on the table, he said: “My nerves are shot to hell.”  

I knew him—the few times I’d been in his presence—as even-keeled, unflappable, abnormally so. Early fifties by now, older than Vera or me by more than a decade. A college prof—Zoology—at NYU.  

“I know it’s strange,” he was saying, “coming to you like this. You probably think I’m crazy. I wouldn’t have done it if—” It appeared as if his doubts would prevent him from continuing. “If I didn’t think—” 

The clock above the counter hummed into the stillness. “It’s Vera,” he said. She’s disappeared.”  

“What do you mean she’s disappeared?” 

“She said she was going to the park, never came back.” 

“When? How long ago?” 

“Eleven days, to be exact. I’ve been out of my mind with worry. Pacing the floor, waiting for her to show up, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for— any thing.” He raised the bottle again, gulped hard. His face a roadmap of grief and worry; a barely concealed look of shame there as well, as sudden and abrupt as a detour. “The past few nights, as I’ve said, I’ve been outside your apartment, working up the courage to knock on your door.” 

“You thought she was with me?” 

His face flushed. “I—I didn’t know what to think—” 

“Did you two have a fight?” 


“Did she say anything about me?” 

“Not recently, no.” 

“I haven’t seen or spoken to Vera in ten years, if that puts your fears to rest.” Though, given our history, the last thing on my mind was the need to offer the man any sort of consolation. I couldn’t keep the resentment out of my voice. “She could have left you for me anytime since then, and she didn’t. Why would she do it now?” 

He shook his head in apology or maybe exasperation. “I’ve had too much time to think.” He raised the bottle to drink again but held it in the air as if he’d forgotten what purpose it served, before setting it back down on the table. “I’m looking at every conceivable—”  

“Forget it. Cross me off your list.”  

What he said next, even more than the fact of her disappearance, came at me like a closed fist.  

“She never stopped loving you.”  

Silence, the past, hung like a wall between us. 

“How do you know that?” was all I could stammer out in response. 

“A husband knows. There doesn’t have to be anything in particular he can point to. He just knows. He can feel it.”  

He fingered the beer bottle, turning it in slow circles on the table. “But there are things I can point to. The times she’d say your name in her sleep. When I’d ask if she’d been dreaming about you she’d say yes but she couldn’t recall any of the details. Or there’d be times in bed when she’d get quiet and I’d ask her what she was thinking and she’d say, ‘Nothing.’ It didn’t take me long to realize ‘nothing’ was a euphemism for you.”  

He stared at me, expecting something. But there were things for which one’s life offered no preparation and this was one of them.  

I’d always talked myself into believing Vera had moved on with her life, that—for her—our year together had fallen into the category of youthful passion, heart-strong and heedless. I told myself I should be pleased that she hadn’t forgotten me—if it was true, if it wasn’t some ploy he was using to manipulate me—but what I felt was something more like remorse and something even more difficult to define: a dark hope, a hurting more than an inspiration.  

“I thought when she got pregnant, when she had the baby,” Davison was saying, “things would be better, that she’d forget about you and focus on us, the family we were becoming.” He stopped himself then, embarrassment or shame again coloring his face. “I’m sorry. Burdening you with my problems, our problems.” 

I winced at the word_ 


“And for a while, things were better. Until last year when our child died.”  

Another gut-punch. I knew she was going to have a child but not that she’d lost one. 

Davison leaned against the table, hands gripped tight to the bottle planted like an anchor on the scarred wood surface. “Then, as I’ve said, eleven days ago she didn’t come home. I’m hoping you’ll help me find her.” 

It seemed, in my unsettled state at the moment, like a plot I might have conjured up for one of my novels: cuckolded husband seeks wife’s lover’s help finding her when she mysteriously vanishes.  

He waited before saying, “I think you’re the key to her disappearance.