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*Starred Review* Multiple award-winner Barnes, best known for her mysteries featuring street-smart Boston P. I. Carlotta Carlyle, strikes out in a completely different direction in her latest, a stand-alone that takes time to develop but ultimately delivers a delicious twist. Naive Em Moore is the silent partner of a writing team whose biographies, published under the name T. E. Blakemore, have garnered the authors big bucks; Em, though, is a bundle of anxieties, which has kept her out of the limelight and virtually unknown despite her brilliant writing. They have also kept her dependent on her partner-mentor-sometime-lover, Teddy Blake. When Teddy dies in an automobile accident, Em comes out of seclusion to continue the book they started on celebrated actor-director Garrett Malcolm, who is working on a production of Hamlet. Em is rebuffed by Malcolm at first, but her surprising stubbornness coupled with her obvious adoration of Malcolm and knowledge of Shakespeare's drama help her worm her way into Malcolm's life. As the relationship becomes more intimate, so, gradually, do her doubts grow about his honesty. It seems that Malcolm, like Teddy, has secrets not meant to be revealed. Em's dramatic story of rebirth, addressed to Teddy in absentia, unfolds with the fitting precision of a stage play. The many references to Hamlet give readers plenty to think about as they parse the truth from Em's undeniably skewed perspective on everyone around her. An outstanding effort from Barnes, who had been silent since Lie Down with the Devil (2008).--Zvirin, Stephanie Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Anthony Award-winner Barnes (Lie Down with the Devil and 11 other Carlotta Carlyle novels) crafts a stand-alone with Shakes-pearean ambitions. Em Moore, an agoraphobe who ghostwrites celebrity biographies under the joint pseudonym T.E. Blakemore, worries whether she can complete her current project-an "autobiography" of famed actor-director Garrett Malcolm-without her writing partner, Teddy Blake, after his death in a car crash. Though timid Em always left the interviewing to Teddy, she summons the resolve to talk to Malcolm in his isolated Cape Cod, Mass., beach house. At first, Malcolm casts her aside dismissively, but as Em perseveres and wins his trust and admiration, she persuades both him and herself of her own worth. As she grows closer to Malcolm, secrets about his life begin to pile up-as well as secrets about Teddy's life. Although the mystery is slow to build, Barnes delivers a captivating story of love, rivalry, and revenge. Agent: Gina Maccoby, Gina Maccoby Literary Agency. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Shy Em Moore is the perfect ghostwriter, taking her gregarious partner Teddy's interviews and turning them into cohesive "autobiographies" for celebrities. When Teddy dies suddenly in a car crash, Em is determined to finish their current project about Hollywood legend Garrett Malcolm. Em keeps up a running monolog to Teddy as she is swept up by Garrett's charismatic personality, moving into his home-ostensibly to finish the interviews-and then his bed. Parallels to Shakespeare's life and works, particularly Hamlet, are strongly drawn: the play within a play, ghost of the father, treachery, betrayal, eavesdropping and familial skeletons resonate throughout. Nothing is truly what it seems in this world populated with ghosts, both literary and figurative. VERDICT In this standalone (and Barnes's first book in five years) by the multiple award-winning author of the Carlotta Carlyle mysteries (Flashpoint), the fast-paced action, compelling characters, alternating interview fragments, police reports, and Em's first-person narration will keep readers up long into the night, waiting for the full revelation of the particulars, which include a sharply surprising and satisfying twist. [See Prepub Alert, 11/4/12; library marketing]-Charli Osborne, Oxford P.L., MI (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.