Mira, Jun 2003, 6.50, 400 pp.
Keith and Claire Malvern left Seattle to open up The Falls Bed and Breakfast in Portfalls, Washington. Before the couple actually opens the doors to their new establishment, Keith apparently commits suicide by leaping off the nearby “Jumper's” bridge. Claire refuses to believe her spouse for ten years would perpetrate such a cowardly act on her because he knew how hurt she was when her mother killed herself, but she cannot persuade County Sheriff Nick Braden to investigate what is to him an obvious suicide.
A desperate Claire goes to a Seattle auction in which Nick, doing this for his deceased wife, is for sale. She buys him for $750, asking him to investigate with her what happened to her husband. As they begin working together and begin falling in love, a watcher pays close attention to the duo just in case two more people must die.
Though the story line takes the easy road involving Keith's death and geography makes the culprit seem unreasonable, romantic suspense readers will appreciate the tension that the story line builds up to until the final climax. Keith is a delightful protagonist feeling guilt over his wife's death because even after several years he wonders why she hid her cancer from him until it was obvious. Adding to his feelings of guilt is that he falls in love with a woman he knows is too vulnerable for a relationship at this time. Claire is a bewildered heroine, who starts having doubts about her deceased husband even as she feels shame for desiring the sheriff. Karen Harper provides a fine thriller, but this could have been a great relationship drama.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner