By Rebecca James, Bantam, $25.00, 256 pages

10A tantalizing mystery from the first page, this novel is engrossing and hard to put down. It’s the haunting story of a young woman struggling to adapt to life after a tragic event. The tale follows her through her terrible feelings of guilt and through the joys of new friendships as she tries to hide from her past and adapt to a new life. A book full of twists and turns and many surprises, it is sprinkled with hints about the past event that haunts her.

The author has successfully written a story that continues to build taut suspense throughout. Peopled with charming and interesting characters, both the good and the sinister, the book keeps the reader turning the pages to learn the fates of each. Even if you think you have figured out how it will end, the shocking surprises keep coming and keep you wanting more. You’ll want to keep reading to discover what really happened. Seldom does a novel come along that is as fascinating and suspenseful as Beautiful Malice.

Reviewed by Fran Byram