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Laurel, the center of Jackson's emotionally taut third novel, has a seemingly picture-perfect life, but when her daughter's best friend accidentally drowns in their pool and appears to Laurel in spirit form, things unravel quickly. Jackson's honey-sweet tones heat up into panic and confusion as everything Laurel depends on falls away. While set in the languid deep South, the pace is rapid. Jackson's reading keeps things brisk without going too swiftly. Jackson's excellent reading allows characters' voices to reveal much about their histories and personalities: Laurel's gentle but determined manner, her outrageously funny sister's sarcasm, the thick drawl of an impoverished girl visiting from Alabama. A brief interview with Jackson at the end offers some insight into the book's genesis and development and into her writing habits. Simultaneous release with the Grand Central hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 29). (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.