(Seventh in the Carlotta Carlyle series)

St. Martin's Paperbacks

ISBN: 0-312-93266-9

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Twenty-four years ago, teen prodigy Thea Janis vanished from her upper crust Boston prep school. At first called a runaway, she's later named among the victims of a serial killer, a man doing life in Walpole Prison.

Then a new manuscript appears in her family's mailbox. The words cry out from the printed pages, Thea's voice unmistakable even a quarter century since the girl's mysterious disappearance. A new client bearing a dead man's name turns up in the office of P.I. Carlotta Carlyle, looking for her help in finding whoever is sending the book — even if it turns out to be Thea herself.

The investigation leads Carlotta to a prominent Boston family with deep connections and even deeper pockets, and which badly wants the tragic past to stay buried. But after a hit man tries to write his own ending to the saga, the cold case suddenly goes white hot — and Carlotta may be the one who ends up getting burned.



People Magazine, April 21, 1997


WHEN SHE WAS 14, LE TOUT BOSTON was riveted by the blue blood Thea Janis's revealing literary debut. The next year, they were reading her obituary. Now, almost a quarter century after the tragic prodigy's funeral, part of a sensational new manuscript surfaces suggesting that she might be alive after all — to the potential embarrassment of her brother, who is running for governor.

The unenviable, though lucrative, task of trying to pick up Thea's trail falls to local PI Carlotta Carlyle, the feisty flame haired former cop and sometime taxi driver who has starred in six previous adventures. As it turns out, she needs to tap both areas of expertise as she makes her way through a forest of familial secrets and lies — starting with the identity of the client who hired her. Some of the twists prove a tad melodramatic, but with a stylish pro like Barnes doing the plotting, this chilling case won't leave you cold.
— Pam Lambert

Mystery Showcase. Booklist, April 15, 1997

Statuesque, red-haired Carlotta Carlyle is brash, breezy, sassy and smart — and very, very good at her job. Fortunatly. Because her latest case is a killer, figuratively and literally. Carlotta gets a strange call from a man who begs her to find dead novelist Thea Janis. Thea was 14 when she published her first novel and became an overnight sensation. At 15, she was dead, an apparent suicide victim. Carlotta's mysterious caller believes Thea is alive — 24 years after her funeral — because someone has mailed him a freshly written manuscript, which he swears is in Thea's handwriting. Carlotta, intrigued, learns that Thea was really Dorothy Cameron, daughter of one of Massachusetts' most famous politicians. Even today, the Cameron name is magic. But the Camerons are hiding dark secrets that undoubtedly had something to do with Dorothy's mysterious death. Relentlessly, Carlotta searches for the missing clues to determine whether Dorothy is still alive, and if she is, why she's remained hidden for so many years. The truth, when it is finally revealed, is both stunning and tragic. Barnes is a master storyteller, and her latest — in a series that just keeps getting better — is a riveting read that is at once poignant, funny, sad, suspenseful, and hopeful. A must for every mystery fan!
— Emily Melton

YA/M: PI Carlotta Carlyle's investigation of a 14-year-old literary prodigy's tragic death will hook teen mystery readers. EM.