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China Lake: An Evan Delaney Novel by Meg Gardiner
Review by Beth Slater
Signet Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451224552
Date: 03 June 2008 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Evan Delaney is a writer, journalist, and legal researcher who is currently guardian for her nephew Luke while her brother, a pilot in the military, is on assignment. Evan used to be a lawyer, hence her success as a legal researcher, until her boyfriend Jesse was in a tragic accident leaving him a paraplegic and she realized that life was short. Now she and Jesse were preparing the heart-wrenching task of settling Luke back with Brian in a few weeks when he was reassigned to China Lake, the base where Brian and Evan grew up a few hours away.

But Evan is stunned to the core when she sees her former sister-in-law's artwork on some gruesome handouts from the Remnant – a fanatical cult who has shown up at her book-signing. Tabitha had walked out on Brian and Luke almost a year ago after draining every penny from every account without a word – and now she was back for Luke – with dangerous reinforcements.

Evan tries to approach Tabitha when she learns that she has returned, but encounters the full force of the Remnant's beliefs – and wrath. But when things get physical, Evan realizes just how perilous a situation Tabitha has drawn them into, and that things are just starting spin out of control; the Remnant wants Luke, and they'll go to extreme lengths to get custody of him.

Evan returns home to try to shore up her reinforcements, but supplies are slim right now, especially with her parents overseas and Jesse in the middle of a difficult trial. Evan decides to head to China Lake early even though Brian doesn't have the house ready, not realizing the extent to which this zealous cult will go to advance with its dedication to its beliefs and faith – no matter who is in their path.

This short review doesn't even begin to touch on all the other sub-plots that tie in to the story – like Jesse's trial involving the bookstore where Evan's book-signing is, or the animal attack outside the bar in China Lake. Gardiner has woven in many, many tie-ins that the reader will appreciate as the story goes on and the end is near. The suspense in some scenes is nail-biting – not something I come across often, I admit. I did take a chapter or two to get into it, but then I couldn't put it down. Not for the cozy readers, though.

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