The still-unsolved murder of her 3-year-old sister Julie has haunted Anna Jameson's dreams since childhood. Tantalizing bits and pieces of that hurricane-tossed night tease her memory, but she's put it behind her and tried to move on with her life--unlike her parents, who left New York after the tragedy and still don't venture very far from their Charleston home. Now Anna has an opportunity to make her mark as a photographer in New York, and despite her mother's worry and warning, she takes it. Much of the first half of this somewhat slow-moving suspense story covers Anna's efforts to make a place for herself, professionally and personally. But then another perspective intrudes: that of a group of forensic psychologists, known collectively as the Arcanum, who study "cold" cases and try to close them, often years after the fact. The "Sleeping Beauty Murder," as the killing of little Julie Jameson is known, suddenly takes on new urgency when an anonymous someone with inside knowledge of those past events gets the experts involved again.
Despite the obvious parallels to the Jon Benet Ramsey case (including the suspicion that a family member killed the little girl), it's never made clear why a 30-year-old murder should still capture so much attention. The characterizations of the Arcanum members are so thin and one-dimensional that we don't care about them, except to note that author Judith Kelman seems to have a particular dislike of one of the experts she sketches, a media-hungry, spotlight-grabbing, and thoroughly unpleasant psychologist who's almost as awful as Anna's new boss, a tyrannical newspaper publisher. Kelman's written more than a dozen solid thrillers (Fly Away Home,, After the Fall, etc.), but this one seems slight and full of extraneous characters, intentionally misleading clues and McGuffins, and unfulfilled expectations. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Set in a shadowy and sinister New York City, this taut and assured suspense thriller by Kelman (After the Fall, etc.) chronicles the rekindling of a long-dormant murder investigation and the return of a ruthless killer. Thirty years after her young sister's death, Anna Jameson is haunted by memories of what was dubbed the Sleeping Beauty Murder. On a stormy summer night, five-year-old Julie Jameson was killed in her bedroom while her family slept. Following this horror, her anguished parents fled Manhattan with three-year-old Anna and moved to South Carolina, where they never quite recovered from the shock. Fast-forward to Anna, now 33 and an aspiring photographer, who returns to New York to work as a photojournalist for a high-powered media conglomerate and to confront family demons. Armed with her camera, she becomes acclimated to the perils of the city: she captures a drug deal on film, escapes a would-be rapist and shoots a newspaper expos of her neighborhood's prostitution ring. Meanwhile, Arcanum, an elite volunteer group of colorful forensic experts devoted to investigating unsolved homicides, receives an anonymous phone call from a woman who warns that Julie's killer may strike again. The group takes on the case privately, inevitably colliding with Anna in its researches. The body count rises as a spooky electrician, a fugitive serial killer, a heroic cop and assorted others cloud the picture. Swift pacing and well-drawn supplementary characters--like the bombastic media mogul Stewart Burlingame and Dixon Drake, a reporter who takes Anna under his wing--come together in this smooth page-turner that's sure to have fans reading into the wee hours of the night. Agent, Peter Lampack.
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