Half Moon Bay

The Hideaway

Tempting Fate

Unforgettable

 
Trust No One by Meryl Sawyer
(Zebra, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-8217-6676-7
***
The story begins with Gian Hawke sitting in his wheelchair by the pool and thinking he has heard something in the bushes. Soon afterward Brody Hawke, a Navy SEAL, gets a letter from Gian, his long-lost father, telling him Gian is in danger and for Brody to trust no one. Along with the letter comes a photo of Brodyís identical twin brother, Elliott - the brother Brody had no idea existed. Brody comes to Napa Valley and his fatherís vineyard, only to discover that Gian Hawke had been found in his pool, dead.

The plot soon thickens. Victoria Anderson, Elliottís fiancťe, meets Brody and realizes what she has been missing in Elliott. Rachel, one of the many cousins Brody discovers along with his new brother, is secretly in love with Elliott. Everyone has secrets and no one particularly liked Gian except for his twin sister.

Brody soon suspects that Gian was murdered. This seems especially probable since Brody has a car accident soon after meeting with everyone. Police confirm the car was tampered with. Since the car was Elliottís that seems to indicate either Elliott did the tampering before he loaned Brody the car, someone wanted to kill Elliott, or someone wants both brothers dead. Elliott and Brody have to decide whether they are enemies or allies.

Whew. That is only the first third of the book. The plot twists come and send the reader off somewhere else every few pages. None of the twists are necessarily expected, but all of them are mapped out carefully. The plot is fascinating here. Danger comes in many different directions and could hurt destroy a number of things - a life, a way of life or a trusted relationship.

The problem with the story is the characters. Perhaps because the plot is so twisted, itís hard to feel too caught up by what the characters are like. Often a complicated plot requires that characters have to just go do things to keep the plot going but the reasons they have may not ring true. Brody comes closest to being the most compelling person in the story - he seems believable as the wary SEAL who keeps discovering everything he thought he knew about his family was wrong but also that everything people tell him now about his family may be a lie.

Tori Anderson is all right but her reluctant fascination with Brody seems to be more because it's necessary for the romance and the plot than because she honestly canít help falling for him. Elliott is a nice enough guy, but really takes third place to the others because he seems so passive. Most of the other characters are evil, weak, or misguided, with some exceptions, so you canít really like them. Some of the characters you like suddenly turn out to have nasty or weak sides, probably to keep the suspense going. Since so many are nasty or turn out to be nasty, itís hard to really work up a good hate toward any one of them.

Ultimately, though I was fascinated by what would happen next and enjoyed reading about Napa Valley, I realized I didnít care a lot about what happened to Brody, Tori or Elliott. I read to the end to see who did what to whom but not necessarily because I needed to see if Brody and the gang were going to be safe.

--Irene Williams


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