CeeCee Wilkes is a naïve young woman waitressing at a coffee shop in Chapel Hill in 1977. She is lonely and ripe for being duped. Regular customer Tim Gleason is sympathetic, and her innocent attraction to him turns into her first love affair. Tim, however, has designs for CeeCee that go way beyond their romance. He tells CeeCee that his sister has been wrongly jailed and is on death row for a murder he says she did not commit, and that he and his brother plan to get her out of jail. He asks for CeeCee’s help to kidnap Genevieve Russell, wife of the governor, and hold her hostage for ransom until the governor pardons his sister. The plan Tim believes is foolproof goes horribly wrong – he doesn’t know Genevieve is very pregnant and a high risk patient. What happens to the infant and to CeeCee Wilkes over a period of two decades makes up the suspenseful plot, with rich and mostly sympathetic characters. CeeCee goes underground, takes a new name, and has a family of her own. Twenty years later Tim is on death row for the murder of Genevieve and her baby. Only Cee Cee knows that the baby survived. Will CeeCee tell the truth about what happened to save Tim’s life, even if it means revealing her secret and destroying her family?
Diane Chamberlain is a bestselling author of suspenseful women’s fiction richly set in North Carolina. She lives locally in the Raleigh area, as well as out at the coast, and local venues are recognizable in her twenty novels. She is often compared to Jodi Picoult in terms of writing style, and while I do see some similarities, I find Chamberlain’s characters more realistic and believable than Picoult’s (Picoult’s children in her novels are always ridiculously wise beyond their years, I find), and Chamberlain’s writing more straightforward and less symbolic and metaphoric than that of Picoult, which is fitting since Chamberlain writes suspense novels. Very good suspense novels.
Join Diane during “Meet the Authors: A Visit with Diane Chamberlain” at West Regional Library on Sunday, February 17 at 2 p.m., when she’ll talk about writing and answer your questions. Advance registration is required. Call 919-463-8500 to register.