Reviewed By: Harriet Klausner
Amazon US PB Amazon US HC Amazon Canada PB Amazon Canada HC
Dutton, May 1999, $24.95, 307 pp.
Joining her family at Asconsett Island, Massachusetts, Joanna Reed, a noted poet, looks forward to the vacation. However, her idyllic summer abruptly ends when her spouse dies in an apparent drowning accident. Joanna cannot accept that her husband, a professional sailor who always used a life jacket, did not have one on him when he drowned. Her father soon dies in a fire. She argues with the local sheriff that both so-called accidents seem suspicious, but he figures she is just grieving.
A summer school roommate of Joanna's daughter, Charis Langenberg enters the distraught woman's life as a compassionate friend. However, unbeknownst to Joanna (but not to readers), Charis has killed the two men. When Joanna's daughter dies next from a roof top fall ruled a suicide, a mentally collapsed Joanna knows she must uncover the malevolent spirit destroying her family one person at a time.
REPRISAL is a well-written mystery that leaves readers wondering about the connection between the killer and her ultimate victim. The audience knows from the start that Charis is the killer, but Mitchell Smith hooks his fans by getting them to realize how cool and smooth the sociopath Charis is in her endeavor to get inside Joanna's life. Mr. Smith delicately provides glimpses into the deteriorating mind of Joanna as one tragedy after another is officially written off as an accident or suicide. Though the drug scene subplot seems to never reunite with the main plot, no one will doubt that this is a worthy thriller along the lines of Hitchcock's Frenzy.
Reprinted with permission. Do Not repost without permission from the author, Harriet Klausner