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by Jane Hill
Arrow, August 2006
400 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0099476576

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Justine Fraser had a boring, routine life. The one thing she did of consequence in her life (in her own mind) was to date a man who later became a movie star. When she was 19 and an exchange student in the US for three months, she met Nicky Bennet. Then abruptly the brief affair was over. But for years, she imagined what it would be like if he walked back into her life again.

When Nicky left her, Justine dropped out of college and her part-time job in a book store became her full-time career. Years later, she is still there, still thinking of how it could have been. Then one morning she opens the paper to find that Nicky, now a celebrity, has vanished off the set of his latest movie. No one, not even his latest fiancé, knows his whereabouts.

But Nicky left a message. When Justine reads the account of the message, she is troubled. Before she met Nicky, Justine’s older sister Marie committed suicide. She had memorized Marie’s suicide note and repeated it to Nicky. In the note that Nicky left, there is a phrase from Marie’s note and Justine believes it is a message for her.

Convinced that Nicky is dead, Justine believes that it is up to her to find out what happened. Taking a small inheritance she had received from her father, she decides to return to the US and play detective. She begins her search in Savannah, which Nicky claimed as his hometown; however, she quickly finds out that he was never there.

Justine is not a sympathetic character; she is actually kind of a mess. Mooning over a brief love affair of almost 20 years ago, she has drifted through life. Never making any commitments, she has had a couple of boyfriends, but if they cared for her, she never made any effort to deepen the relationship. She has excused her inertia in not changing jobs to the fact that Nicky might some day come back and he would find her there because he knew where she worked. She is pretty pathetic. Nicky is a self-centered, egotistical jerk, and pretty much everyone who knows him recognizes that fact, except for Justine.

As she continues her quest, she must face some unpleasant truths about Nicky and also about herself. There was little of substance to the two main characters. Throughout the entire book I felt that if I knew someone like Justine, I would shake her and say "wise up!" But she pretty much redeems herself in the last few pages of the book. So, while I would not say this was a great book, I did appreciate the ending. It made up for the time I spent disliking the characters.

Reviewed by Lorraine Gelly, January 2007

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