Morrow, August 2004, 24.95, 320 pp.
While Phillip Chase recuperates at his mother's Philadelphia house after falling from the fire escape in his fourth floor New York apartment, Melissa calls because she wants to come over to tell him and his mother something. When she arrives, she tells them that she is pregnant with Ronnie Chase's child, a situation they find impossible to believe. Ronnie died five years ago in an automobile accident coming home from the prom.
The only time Melissa had sex was on prom night and she believes this child is her dead lover's since she never even dated another man. Phillip's mother Charlene is hoping that Ronnie deposited his sperm at a sperm bank and she goes to Melissa's house to see if it is true. She never arrives but Phillip talks to Ronnie who he feels sorry for. Before he can return home he discovers something that could put him and the wife of Melissa's landlord in danger.
John Searles has written an unusual but enthralling work of psychological suspense that keep fans wondering who the father of Melissa's child is since she insists she has been celibate for five years and readers believe her. It is STRANGE BUT TRUE that the protagonist has no idea how she got pregnant and readers will empathize with her need to believe it is Ronnie's child. A surprise twist at the climax of this novel brings everything into focus so that the audience will feel they have read a poignant family melodrama.
The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner