Well-known author Annie Barnes always has related to Grace
Metalious, who wrote the controversial bestseller PEYTON PLACE in
the 1950s. PEYTON PLACE is even said to have been based on Annie's
own hometown, Middle River.
When Annie's mother dies with Parkinson-like symptoms and her
sister Phoebe begins exhibiting similar symptoms, Annie returns to
Middle River to look into the cause and to deal with her guilt for
not helping her mother during her illness.
Her first step is to meet with Tom, the doctor who appears to have
bungled her mother's medical care. Surprisingly, they connect over
the medical mystery. Tom and Annie also discuss the fact that
Middle River residents appear to have much more illness than
average. Both suspect that there's an environmental cause, quite
possibly from the Northwood Paper Mill, owned by the most powerful
family in town, the Meades. To complicate matters, Annie detests
Aidan Meade after a disastrous teenage romance with him.
Tom suspects the residents are suffering from mercury poisoning.
Can Annie prove that the patients actually have been exposed? Since
mercury can lie dormant in humans for long periods, and the mill no
longer uses mercury, Annie must delve into the town's past. The
townsfolk are in an uproar. They are sure Annie is there to write
about their secrets, as they believe Grace Metalious did years ago.
James, the older Meade brother, confronts Annie, asking if she is
writing about his family's mill. Yet he seems somewhat mysteriously
concerned over the death of Annie's mother.
Time passes, and Phoebe worsens. Can Annie unlock the town's
mystery in time to help her sister, and so many others who are also
ill? And if the problem is the mill, will Annie's family forgive
her for jeopardizing their livelihoods? Soon, she has yet another
puzzle: Who is the anonymous emailer offering to give her
information about the mill?
This well-written story constantly held my interest. The characters
are believable and likeable, and the plot is brisk. There's a bit
of juicy romance and a lot of fascinating mystery. There's even
somewhat of a ghost story, as Annie is haunted by the opinionated
Grace Metalious. All this, plus some heartwarming family
interaction, adds up to a very enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on January 11, 2011
Looking for Peyton Place