Awful, terrible, wretched book. How bad is it? Let me count the ways.
First off, a charming, handsome man shows up saying he is with the law firm for a rich guy who just was murdered, although he had never had the opportunity to meet the deceased himself (very convenient to explain his lack of direct knowledge about the dead guy. Also a handy, if clumsy, way for the author to reveal his bad-guy-ness when he later mentions some supposed personal interaction, which the heroine totally misses. The moron.) So of course the heroine is instantly attracted to him and accepts his story at face value, revealing pretty much all her secret inside information about what might have precipitated the murder, which she keeps hidden even from the police. Even when things start happening to her in places where only he knew she was going, she doesn't seem to question his involvement. Apparently this woman has never seen a thriller movie or read a mystery.
Secondly, a mysterious caller gives her a warning, and when she meets the guy and realizes he is also the person who previously broke into her apartment and lurked around there waiting for her, she goes ahead and makes plans to take a little road trip and investigate a historical site with him. And when someone takes several shots at her, she initially assumes it's coincidental, because no one could possibly
be trying to kill her, even though she's already been warned that her life is in danger. The woman is portrayed as MONUMENTALLY dense. No 21st century woman with any sense would get in a car alone with a complete stranger, let alone one who she already knows is shady.
Big surprise, the one person she trusts turns out to be the bad guy, people she distrusts turn out to be her strongest allies. Along the way Mr. Hartley churns out plot complication after plot complication, until I just couldn't wait for it to be all over. I have to confess that at one point I was hoping the main character would get killed off. She was an embarrassment to modern women everywhere.
Oh, and the set-ups were ridiculously telegraphed. "She cleaned up her nails and slipped the file into her back pocket..." so she can fortuitously recall its presence a little while later and use it to escape from the bad guys.
Yeah, it was really that transparent. Blergh.
A tiny picky detail - I mean, there are so many BIG reasons to hate this one - Hartley uses a phrase THREE TIMES that instantly told me he was a Brit: "finish up", meaning not "complete" but more like "arrive" -- the phrase an American would use in the same context would be either "end up" or "wind up." No clue why he would put this story in an American setting. Dude, write what you know. Like, not about women, for one thing. I also could really have done without the repeated flogging of the platitude about "handsome men don't go for marginally-attractive women like [Deborah Miller]."