*Starred Review* Santa Barbara attorney Evan Delaney is gutsy and tough, but she has a tender side, too. She dotes on her nephew, Luke, who’s staying with her while his fighter-pilot father, Brian, is deployed overseas. (Brian, who’s stationed at the Mojave Desert naval weapons-testing center, China Lake, has been divorced from Luke’s mother, Tabitha, for years.) Evan’s peaceful cohabitation with Luke is thrown into chaos when Tabitha returns to town under the spell of the Remnant, a fundamentalist sect arming itself for the apocalypse with artillery and biological weapons. Tabitha wants Luke back—no questions asked. Brian comes home, and when the sect’s eerie leader is found dead in Brian’s backyard, the career military man is thrown in jail with little hope of release. Evan and her boyfriend, Jesse, come to Brian’s defense, prompting a flood of memories for Evan, who grew up in China Lake. Gardiner, an American who lives in Great Britain, renders a cast of compelling characters and a hair-raising plot that never stops. This is her second novel to be published in the States (after The Dirty Secrets Club, earlier this year); happily for readers, four more Evan Delaney mysteries are slated for release this summer and fall. --Allison Block
China Lake has echoes of the film version of Cape Fear, except that the menace in this story is not a lone psychopath, but a fanatical religious cult known as The Remnant. Evan Delaney is the feisty young heroine who must battle to protect her small nephew Luke from the evil clutches of the cult. The nightmare begins when Tabitha, Luke's mother, becomes involved with The Remnant and uses their power to try to regain custody of her child. Evan joins forces with her brother in order to counter the destructive plans of the group and their belief of a forthcoming Armageddon. These are the elements in Meg Gardiner's compelling tale, a powerful mix of murder, terrorism and a wealth of dark secrets.
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