by Mariah Stewart

September 2005
ISBN: 0-345-47667-0
Reviewer Graphic Button Ballantine Books
Mass Market Paperback

Lorna Temple has come a long way since her days growing up on the family farm in Pennsylvania. Now a successful accountant living near Pittsburgh, she has spent the last few months taking care of her mother who finally succumbed to the disease she had been fighting. Lorna now must return to her roots, dispose of her mother’s ashes and sell the family home in order to split the profits with her brother and sister.

Upon returning home, Lorna is overwhelmed with nostalgia for the home and land that sheltered members of her family for over 150 years. As Lorna settles in to make some important decisions, she is drawn into a more intense situation. It seems human remains have been discovered near what used to be part of the family farm.

This disturbing event brings back the memories of the day her nine-year-old friend Melinda Eagan vanished on her way home from Lorna’s house. At the time everyone was convinced that Melinda’s older brother who had a reputation of his own was to blame. Shortly after the disappearance, Jason himself went missing.

Now it seems Jason never left Callen, Pennsylvania at all. The bones on the farm are his and now more bodies are being discovered. The press will soon dub Lorna’s property the “body farm”. When it seems the local police are ready to pin the crime on the Eagan children’s mother, Bonnie Lorna feels compelled to get involved. She contacts her old friend Regan Landry now a true crime writer for advice. Regan gives her the name of a private investigator named T.J. Dawson.

With the help of T. J., Regan and Regan's friend Mitch they soon discover that many of Lorna’s former schoolmates may have secrets hiding in their closets and for some reason the local police would rather consider the case closed instead of aiding Lorna and T.J. with their investigation.

Regan quickly pieces together some of the pieces of evidence to discover that the real killer plans for the truth to be hidden forever. His plan is to eliminate Lorna so the town can put this story to rest.

Stewart’s second novel in her summer trilogy is as addicting as your favorite chocolate. I found myself ignoring the world around me in order to gobble up this thriller. Fans of last year’s “Dead” trilogy will find a loose connection between those books and the new “Hard” series. Be prepared to lose yourself in this end of summer reading pleasure!

Reviewed in October 2005 by Shelby.

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