Picks and Pans Review: More Than You Know

updated 05/08/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/2000 01:00AM

by Beth Gutcheon

Star-crossed lovers, a haunted house and a murder mystery to solve—what more do you need in a page-turner? And Gutcheon's sixth novel is decidedly that. Set in the small Maine coastal town of Dundee, it tells two tales of family tragedy, one prefiguring the other. In the first, set in the mid-1800s, naive farm girl Claris Osgood makes a disastrous marriage to misfit Danial Haskell, whose chilly reserve she mistakes for depth of character. The union ruins at least five lives and ends in a killing that, more than half a century later, haunts 17-year-old Hannah Gray, a distant relative of Claris and Danial's who is plagued by a ghost while visiting Dundee for the summer. Determined to discover the long-ago murderer's identity—and in love with Conary Crocker, a town charmer who shares both her passions—Hannah follows her feelings and finds tragedy of her own.

Fast-paced, chilling and on target in its evocation of frenzied first love, More than You Know suffers only from Gutcheon's well-meaning attempts to freight it with significance. "Somebody said true love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen," the book begins. "I've seen both, and I don't know how to tell you which is worse." We'll just take the story, thanks. (Morrow, $24)

Bottom Line: Spooky saga with delusions of grandeur

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