Picks and Pans Review: The Last Time They Met

updated 05/07/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/07/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Anita Shreve

Book of the week

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Read the first 50 pages of this poignant new novel by Anita Shreve (The Pilot's Wife, Fortune's Rocks) and you might mistake it for a romance—but it's a mystery, and one so astonishingly well-constructed that when you're finished you'll want to reread it at once.

Poets Linda Fallon and Thomas Janes, ex-lovers with a turbulent past, reconnect at a book signing. The details are vague, but it looks like a happy ending is in order. Then Shreve jumps back 26 years to Kenya, where Linda and Thomas, both married to others, rekindle a high school affair. The mood turns darker, filled with despair. But many questions are unanswered when the action shifts again, to when Linda and Thomas are 17 and there has been a devastating car accident. The final secret isn't revealed until the last page. (Little, Brown, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Sixth Sense-ational

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