Bay McCable is left alone after her husband is killed and as they investigate his crimes from before he died, she is shocked to find out how much she did not know about her husband. Bay McCabe is enjoying another beautiful summer day filled with the simple pleasures of hanging laundry outside and contemplating her garden. Until her 9 year old daughter daughter, Peg, calls because Sean, Bay's husband and Peg's father, did not pick her up on time after practice at the park.
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At first, Bay is annoyed at Sean and apologetic to Peg. However, as the day gets longer, she starts to worry about Sean and regretfully remember his recent affairs. She cannot help but think he is cheating again and she is shocked to learn that he also did not show up at a very important business meeting. As an executive at the local bank, he was a hard worker who would not have just skipped the meeting…except that he did.
Peg checks his closet and personal items and discovers some missing items that she tearfully tells her mom about. Bay gets a fax at home from someone who is selling her husband a very expensive custom boat, that they cannot afford and that she knew nothing about.
Their other daughter, Annie, is equally confused and the reader is introduced to old memories of Bay and Sean, their childhood romance and their years of marriage. It is also obvious that they have grown apart and that Sean is a somewhat selfish husband and father.
Evidence also comes to light that there is a large amount of missing money from the bank that Sean works. He is assumed to be responsible, given that he is not around to defend himself and a suspicious crime scene that presents with what they believe is Sean's blood. In addition, questionable loans have been approved by Sean in recent months that should not have been approved.
Eventually, it becomes clear that Sean is dead, but evidence also comes to light that he had cocaine in his system at the time of his attack. Bay, who never wanted to be anything other than a wife and mother, is forced to get a job and at the same time, she begins to make new friends.
Everyone in the family is grieving, but there are some people in the community who wrongfully hold Sean's family responsible for the theft of funds. Peg also makes new friends and the reader is given the opportunity to discover how much everything, including what she knew of his infidelities the year before, has impacted her.
One of the people that Bay meets is an FBI agent who is investigating her husband's crimes and disappearance. Since no body was found, he is presumed dead, but there is no proof, which means no death certificate, no survivor's benefits and no life insurance policy. A new friend of Annie's, Eliza has some emotional problems after seeing her mother's death from an attack, which was also around the same time that Eliza's mother was spotted by Eliza to be kissing Sean.
Eliza has developed the habit of self-mutilation and an eating disorder, while also being suicidal. Peg tries to help her and there are some improvements, as it becomes obvious that she wants to eat and to quit hurting herself, but lacks the ability to do so on her own. With no mother in her life, getting the attention of her father is challenging and then Eliza is kidnapped.
After being terrifying at being kidnapped, the reason behind everything has finally become clear. A new assistant manager at the bank where Sean worked, Mark Boland, and his wife Alise were blackmailing Sean with their knowledge of his crimes at the bank, which included embezzling. They forced him to go along with their own very expensive thefts and when it looked like they were caught, they drugged and killed him.
They were also responsible for the death of Eliza's mother, because she had seen too much and threatened to go to the police. Finally having closure, the families and the community work on beginning to trust again and a man that Bay knew as a teenager is back in the area and there are subtle hints of a brewing romance. As the book ends it has been almost a year since Sean disappeared and life is returning to normal, or at least a new normal.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked the idea of the story, but the actuality is that it went on too long. Frankly, they should have investigated everyone at the bank early on, when it became obvious that Sean had stolen from his employer. It was an obvious conclusion that still took several months and over 4oo pages for the characters in the book to also consider that angle.
Best scene in story:
When Eliza told Annie that she had seen their parents together, it was incredibly painful for both of them, but it also was a changing point in their friendship. That was the moment that the two girls became like sisters and there are not enough books that mention the bond that adolescent and teenage girls develop, to where they feel like sisters.
Opinion about the main character:
Bay McCabe was just a lilttle over the top. I just cannot believe that she would be that forgiving of her husband, after learning how many times he had cheated on her. Frankly, there should have been some concern about whether she and the kids were safe after discovering that Sean was murdered and stole from the bank and yet, that concern, was more of an after thought than anything else.
Bantam, Aug 2003, 7.50, 431 pp.
For twenty-five years Bay and Sean McCabe have been married and lived in Hubbard's Point, Connecticut. They have three preadolescent children. The couple has had their ups and downs especially caused by Sean's womanizing. However, ever since last year when their oldest child Annie overheard her father speaking romantically to another woman shaking up Sean, the relationship seems honest and solid.
The youngest child calls from the little league field to inform her mom that her dad failed to pick her up as previously arranged. Falling into routine, Bay rationalizes that Sean must be running late at the bank where he is a vice president and drives over to bring Peg home. When an employee of Sean calls asking for him and why he missed a key meeting, Bay begins to worry. Annie rides her bike to the family boat with Bay and a close friend Tara following. They find blood and call the police. Bay learns the FBI is involved because of embezzlement shenanigans at the bank. With her only lead being Dan Connolly, someone she had a puppy crush on before she married, Bay makes inquiries into what happened to her spouse.
Luanne Rice's latest thriller is THE PERFECT SUMMER novel for fans of relationship dramas. The action is loaded and the tension shrewdly elevated especially as Bay begins to realize that her spouse is not coming home and as she, Tara, and Annie begin to unravel the truth. Though the interrelationships are explained, they still seem stretched until the dichotomously plausible final note to Annie is found and explains all to readers who will find this an entertaining romantic suspense tale.
The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner