Good Intentions

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In Evanston one bitterly cold day, acting on impulse, Rachel buys the house in which she grew up. It's an effort to recapture the happiness and stability that have been shattered by a series of blows that began with the death of her father ten years ago and culminated with her recent divorce. She moves in, hopeful that a rekindled love affair with newsman Amos Curley and the return home of her teenage daughter, Edie, will start the healing. She and Edie are suddenly joined for the Christmas holidays by her ...
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Overview

In Evanston one bitterly cold day, acting on impulse, Rachel buys the house in which she grew up. It's an effort to recapture the happiness and stability that have been shattered by a series of blows that began with the death of her father ten years ago and culminated with her recent divorce. She moves in, hopeful that a rekindled love affair with newsman Amos Curley and the return home of her teenage daughter, Edie, will start the healing. She and Edie are suddenly joined for the Christmas holidays by her mother, Camilla - who brings her own memories and fears to this wary reunion. Rachel's good intentions catapult the three generations of women into an unexpected confrontation with long-suppressed family secrets. But as they struggle, something sinister begins happening on Rachel's radio show that will affect them all. A strangely sardonic listener calling himself the Truthseeker and claiming to be a notorious Chicago murderer begins to call Rachel on the air. The show's ratings shoot through the roof. But then the calls start coming to Rachel's home, and she realizes she and her family are being stalked. Rachel soon faces the possibility that her stalker is not some demented stranger but someone familiar with her most intimate secrets. It is in this atmosphere that she tries to pull together the pieces of her life - knowing finally that not even all the good intentions in the world can save her from facing painful truths if she is to find her way home.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The biggest problem with O'Brien's (The Ladies' Lunch) predictable psychological thriller is that it telegraphs its ending way too early. Rachel Snow, recently divorced Chicago morning drive-time radio talk-show host, tempts fate when she buys back her deteriorating childhood home in Evanston, Ill. That gives her 64-year-old mother, Camilla, the opportunity to move back in after an unhappy time in Miami, where she fled after her husband's suicide. Rachel's 16-year-old daughter, Edie, also shows up after leaving boarding school. The scene is set for three generations of women to battle personal issues. Restoring the old house and recovering memories about her manic-depressive father's death appear to be the least of Rachel's problems. Her station manager gives her six months to improve her show's ratings. When an anonymous caller claims to be The Truthseeker, a murderer who supposedly died in prison, Rachel's producer suggests taunting The Truthseeker into an on-air Christmas Eve confrontation. The novel quickly escalates into the familiar story of women in distress. Rachel's favorite purple lilies, threatening notes, frightening phone calls and a dead mouse arrive at the house. Edie is openly pursued by an abused teenager who posts pornographic narratives on the Internet. Camilla hides the concerns of a second breast cancer scare. Anxious calls from her ex-husband, advances from her boss and from an old lover further complicate Rachel's life. By the time Rachel sorts everything out, she is caught in a grotesque confrontation that ends in violence, followed by a sentimental ending around a Christmas tree. (July)
Library Journal
Rachel Snow is doing pretty well. Despite divorce and the haunting memory of her father's suicide, she has managed to buy her childhood home, raise her teenage daughter, and carve out a career as a popular Chicago radio talk-show host. The radio show, however, becomes the good, the bad, and the ugly part of her life when a caller identifying himself as the Truthseeker turns her life and her career upside down by sending her ratings through the roof while reeking emotional and physical havoc on her home life. This strong character makes an otherwise predictable story a worthwhile read. There's a pleasant love triangle and believable dialog, especially between Rachel and her daughter and Rachel and a wonderfully depicted Camilla Duncan, her mother. This may not be an improvement over O'Brien's previous work (The Ladies Lunch, LJ 8/94), but the fast-paced plot is refreshingly uncluttered. Recommended for collections where mild thrillers are in demand.Shirley Gibson Coleman, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., Mich.
Kirkus Reviews
Political journalist O'Brien takes on too much too fast in a third novel (after The Ladies' Lunch, 1994, etc.) that's part family drama, part romance, part mystery, with the whole, unfortunately, proving less than the sum of its many parts.

Rachel Snow is an attractive but lonely middle-aged Chicago radio talk-show host with a troubled past. Her father may or may not have committed suicide (he was struck by a train) years ago. Her divorce was complicated by her own adultery with a charismatic reporter. Her mother who, like her father, has always preferred silence to confession, fought breast cancer without even telling Rachel, and is now in financial trouble down in Miami. And teenaged daughter Edie is torn between her parents, in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and struggling with garden-variety adolescent turmoil besides. When Rachel buys and renovates her childhood home, it seems as though she's on the cusp of coming to terms with her history, and when her mother and Edie move into the house with her, life does indeed seem to be taking a turn for the better. Meanwhile, though, the ratings aren't great at her show—until, that is, a mysterious figure starts calling in, claiming to be the notorious serial killer The Truthseeker. Then all hell breaks loose: former lover Amos, the dashing reporter, reemerges; Jim, Rachel's station manager, reveals that he's infatuated with her; and ex-husband Matt tells her (meaningfully) that his new marriage is on the rocks. Through it all, Rachel struggles to keep a step ahead of The Truthseeker, who appears to be threatening her family's safety.

O'Brien knows how to create vivid characters and write believable dialogue. But for the poor, confused reader, Rachel's romantic complications and troubles are diluted by their sheer number.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781575663111
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 7/1/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.24 (w) x 6.91 (h) x 1.02 (d)

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