"Someone can't come back from the dead.'' Hamilton Speke, world-renowned playwright and protagonist of this compelling, lyrically written thriller, is sure of it. But what is he to make of the mysterious reappearance of his old drinking chum and creative cohort Timothy Asquith, who, Speke believed, died 20 years earlier of an alcohol or drug overdose? As Speke works on his "masterpiece'' at his vast wooded estate outside San Francisco, Asquith surprises him and declares that he wants "it all. Everything that you have become.'' He insists that Speke's fame--attained for works based on Asquith's life--rightly belongs to him, and threatens to expose the playwright as a charlatan and plagiarist. Amidst murder and artful misdirection, Cadnum ( St. Peter's Wolf ) splices the narrative by introducing the thoughts and actions of Sarah, Speke's loyal assistant; Christopher Bell, his would-be biographer; and, most important, his enigmatic wife, Maria. Just when most readers will believe they've figured out the puzzle, another twist surprises. From start to astonishing finish, this good old-fashioned thriller delivers.
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