Wendy Corsi Staub is in the midst of a schedule that --- when the dust settles and the smoke clears in November 2007 --- will have seen the publication of 10 of her novels in the thriller and romance genres over the course of just 18 months. As if that isn't enough, Staub has also begun a nationwide tour that will take her to all 50 states. All the while she writes, amassing a following that seems to grow exponentially by the minute. As exemplified by DON'T SCREAM, Staub injects into her work quality with quantity in equal measures.
This is a tightly constructed whodunit that will keep you guessing until the very end. The nucleus of the book consists of four sorority sisters who witnessed the apparent death of Rachel Lorant on her 20th birthday. However, the incident wasn't reported and her body was never found.
Now, 10 years later, the four women are leading very different lives. Brynn is a stay-at-home mom with two children. Tildy is a cold, hard-bitten heiress whose dedication to charity work masks a shark-like personality. Cassie is completing medical school and engaged to a man who is perfect in every way, except for the fact that she's having her doubts about marrying him. And Fiona (Fee) is a driven, successful careerwoman whose self-grown business has cost her a marriage and possibly her daughter as well.
As they approach the 10-year anniversary of Rachel's death --- and their own birthdays --- each receives a birthday card, apparently from Rachel and signed in her distinctive way. It is a chilling message, seemingly from beyond the grave, since no one knew what transpired that night except for the four of them. As the friends, who have grown somewhat apart, are drawn reluctantly back together by the common secret and mystery they share, it becomes clear that whoever sent the cards is seeking a brutal and deadly revenge against them.
Staub's work is perfect here. The plot moves things along in a steady and unhurried manner, and the personalities of the four principals (and their supporting characters) are true to life without being encumbered with clichés. The best part of the novel, however, is the mystery, which encompasses not only the who but the why of what is taking place between the covers. DON'T SCREAM is a can't miss; after reading it, you'll find that one of the strongest benefits of being a Staub fan is that you never have to wait too long for her next book.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 1, 2007