Black Widow by Laurie Breton
(Neighborhood Press, $14.99, V) ISBN 1-893108-36-8
Four years ago, Kathryn McAllister was railroaded and wrongly imprisoned for the brutal murder of her husband Michael. Kathryn is released from jail after a new witness comes forward. She returns to Elba to clear her name and to find the real murderer so she can put all this behind her and get on with her life. As Kathryn expects, she is not greeted with a warm reception when she returns. But with support from her lawyer Raelynn, Kathryn summons her inner strength and courage and sets out to face her accusers and solve the four-year-old crime the town of Elba, North Carolina, still believes she committed.

Also new in town is police chief Nick DiSalvo. He has come to Elba to escape his past and live a quiet existence in a small Southern town. All that changes the day Kathryn McAllister walks into his office. While he is physically attracted to her, his initial reaction is that she did commit the crime and the case should not be reopened.

Unable to get Kathryn out of his mind, DiSalvo makes a few inquiries into the case and begins to wonder if Kathryn isnít telling him the truth. When he and Kathryn begin to get thrown together and she begins to get threats on her life, they give in to their feelings for one another. As Nick gets closer to Kathryn he believes her and begins to investigate with her and on his own.

As the two face the disapproval of a community that distrusts outsiders to begin with, they realize that Michaelís murder has very deep roots in the community and may be connected to incidents that occurred over thirty years ago. As they get closer to the truth, more people are dead and the threats to Kathryn increase and even extend to Nickís pre-teen daughter, Janine.

Black Widow is a tightly written mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end. It is very complex and involved without becoming so confused that all the plots become tangled and muddled. Kathryn is a heroine to admire as she faces the people that have convicted her. She puts herself in grave danger as she searches for the truth. Her feeling is that she has nothing left to lose.

Nick DiSalvo is a complex cop with a few secrets of his own. He is divorced, but still maintains a relationship with his ex-wife because of Janine. He is in Elba hiding from a mistake that cost another cop his life. He also realizes the political implications of getting involved with Kathryn, but goes out on a limb to protect her, and ultimately to be with her.

The other characters in Black Widow are divided into those who are afraid of the secrets they hold and those whose secrets are being kept through money and threats. A sultry southern summer is the perfect backdrop to this novel filled with murder, infidelities and a town that never forgets.

--Jennifer Monahan Winberry

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