Ashes to Water
Five Stars, Jun 16 2010, $25.95
In 1962, Helen Bartlett, a nurse and mother of two daughters, drowns herself in Widow Lake, Florida near their family house. Her children Leigh and Annie blame their fathered for their mom killing themselves. Annie begins talking and seeing her mom’s spirit as the child believes her mother became a mermaid.
In 1981 DeLeon Deputy Sheriff Raina Salceda calls Annie who resides in Michigan that her father was murdered by his live in girlfriend Della Frome who bashed his head in with an oar. Annie calls Leigh in Atlanta. Engaged to a nice man with a teenage daughter problem, Annie travels to DeLeon where her childhood best friend Pete Duncan meets her at the airport. He is also Della’s defense attorney, but he feels the evidence is so overwhelming that he wants to plea bargain. After seeing her dad’s corpse, Annie visits Della in prison; the woman eerily looks like her mom circa 1962 and insists developer Kingfisher Powell killed Ed whom she says she loved. Annie begins asking questions as her mom’s spirit tells her to stop as does her sister who needs the money due to her abusive boyfriend who insists that they would get it if Della is convicted as they would inherit and sell the land.
Ashes to Water is an intriguing psychological amateur sleuth who-done -it. The murder investigation is well written, but supports a deep look at two sisters who as adults cope differently with their mother killing herself though they share in common holding their father culpable. Whereas Annie “communicates” with her mom’s ghost, Leigh has been involved in a serial string of bad relationships. Readers will appreciate this fascinating thriller as Annie seeks the truth about her parents as much as who killed her dad while Leigh wants to sell the property. Character driven (even from the grave), Irene Ziegler provides a powerful thriller (see Rules of the Lake, not read by me, for Annie’s previous appearance).