The Secrets of Sadie Maynard
by Linda Anderson
( Pocket, $ 6.50, R) ISBN 0-671-02768-9
**
The Secrets of Sadie Maynard is an intriguing title but the story fails to live up to its interesting name. This book has problems: it takes too long to get into and it lacks focus; too many extraneous characters and too much extraneous information weigh this story down.

The small town of Yancy, West Viginia, isn't much different today than it was some sixty years ago when Sadie Maynard, wife of the town sheriff, was brutally murdered. Yancy takes care of its own and townsfolk never did care much for strangers.

Although no motive was ever established for Sadie's murder, a black man, Amos Washington, was arrested and found guilty for her death. Amos was a quiet man who worked as a handyman for one of the town's leading citizens, Macauley Tate. Sadie's granddaughter, photojournalist Memphis Maynard, is not convinced that it wasn't Macauley Tate who was responsible for the terrible deed. Memphis has always wanted to unravel the mystery surrounding her grandmother's death.

Now that slimy, sensationalist reporter Jake Bishop Memphis's former lover and father of her child has decided to try and make money from the tale, Memphis feels compelled to make sure that her grandmother's story is honestly told.

Besides, Jake, the only thing standing in her way is the entire town of Yancy and their love for Cutter Tate, grandson to Macauley. The attraction between Memphis and Cutter is as hot and fierce as their distrust of each other's motives.

Living in the home of her grandparents, Memphis sees and hears things that seem real but couldn't be. Rumors surface about Sadie's participation in a sex club that was frequented by Yancy's elite. Apparitions appear to Memphis and seem to be trying to tell her something, something that Cutter doesn't want Memphis to know about.

For a book that's over 450 pages, it seems ridiculous that so much is left unsaid and unexplained. For instance, readers never get a complete picture of the story behind Jake and Memphis's romance. Jake is portrayed as a complete cad, yet a woman as intelligent and sophisticated as Memphis loved him for four years without ever realizing he wasn't a very nice or very honest guy?

When I say that The Secrets of Sadie Maynard lacks focus, I mean that it can't seem to decide whether or not it should be a mystery, a romance or a ghost story. It tries to be all three but it doesn't work; it is spread too thin, with too many characters and subplots. Simply put, not enough attention is given to the mystery, the romance or the ghost story.

--Judith Flavell


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