|The strength of this novel is in the background. Set in the small rural town of Haven, West Virginia, the author devotes a lot of time to characterizing life in this tiny community. That part is well done and interesting. The weakness is the incredible amount of disbelief that must be suspended to carry a very weak and tired plot line. In short, one must believe that a necklace is imbued with the power to slip on and off a
neck when it becomes necessary to impart clues to the principals. That said…
Jake Malloy arrives in Haven, a burnout from his big city police job, required to take a month’s leave because he has not recovered from losing his partner in an exploding burning building. And worse, he really does not want to recover from the guilt.
Keely Schiffer is newly widowed. Her husband Jack had been lazy, unfaithful, and allegedly writing a novel when he died. Keely is working in the garden on a farm that has been passed down through generations when she discovers a human skull. When she goes in the house, she discovers a wrapped gift from her deceased husband in a cookie jar. She leaves it unopened and encounters an annoyed Jake Malloy there to pick up the keys for his rental that she was supposed to have left at her grocery store.
As Jakce is about to leave an earthquake hits Haven and they are dropped into the basement with the house crumbling above them. Jake shoves Keely underneath a table and they make it through aftershocks etc, only to be trapped together through the night until rescue efforts begin.
When life is uncertain and mutual lust exists, readers will quickly conclude how Jake and Keely spend the night. In the morning comes rescue and Keely’s return to her large close and extended family.
At this point the reader is more than half way through the book. When Jake escorts Keely to the apartment over her grocery store where she is now living, an intruder attacks her. The police are again called, the same police who can no longer find the skull Keely insists she saw.
Keely becomes the focus of things happening and when she opens the present to find the necklace, even more things happen to her in both a sleeping and awakened state. Meanwhile a psychic has come to town and announced that the natural disaster
occurred either as a result of psychic phenomena or could cause increased psychic phenomena, providing an explanation for all that follows.
Shallow characters and predictable dialogue cannot enhance a paranormal plot held together by coincidences.