A recluse on Long Island's humbler North Fork, Suffolk County star prosecutor Frances Pratt returns home to Southampton and her dying father. What she finds are friends and family guarding closely held secrets and an overprivileged community unwilling to admit anyone but their own. Though a shrewd and skillful lawyer, she is utterly unprepared for what comes next. In the marbled powder room of the "old money" Fair Lawn Country Club lies the murdered body of her own stepmother, Clio Henshaw Pratt.

Frances takes on the investigation and soon unearths more than a few people who had hated Clio with enough force and venom to murder her. Her sights fix on the respected African-American heart surgeon smarting from Clio's prejudice—the long-faithful partner frozen out of the family investment firm—the highborn idealist whose vision of the Fair Lawn Country Club's future left no room for Clio's snobbery—the dissolute socialite who feared what Clio knew about her husband's suicide—and even somebody closer to Frances than she had ever imagined.

As Frances begins to look beneath the gilded surface of Southampton, she delves into a world of crumbling pretenses, cruel prejudices, and the terrible burdens people bear to "keep up appearances." Ultimately, she discovers that she, as well as everyone in her family, has a fagade. And as she searches for Clio's killer, Frances Pratt will have to face the demons that stand behind them all.


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by Nancy Geary

Warner Books
June 1, 2002
ISBN #0446610941
467 pages
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