Coming Home to You by Fay Robinson
(Harl. Super. # 961, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-70961-7
***
Kate Morgan has spent years researching a biographical subject very near to her heart - the legendary rock singer, James Hayes. After his untimely death, the remaining members of his family refuse to be interviewed but Kate does thorough biographies and she very much wants to talk to at least some of them. She zeroes in on the reclusive Bret Hayes, the singerís brother. Bret has retired to a remote farm in Alabama and doesnít talk to anyone, much less nosy writers.

Bret has changed his less than stellar life after his brotherís death. He also doesnít want to talk about James - he doesnít really want to talk to anyone about anything in particular. But Kate wonít leave him alone. She tells him she met James once and he made a profound effect on her. Thatís when Bret decides he really does have to find out just how much this writer does know about the secrets in his brotherís - and his - past.

Of course there is something to investigate, something more than Jamesí life and death and his familyís strange reaction to it. What actually happened during the plane crash that led to disaster and why Bret feels so guilty about it isnít an ordinary problem.

The story could be interesting. It should be interesting. But I had difficulties with the characters from the start. I disliked Kateís dogged persistence in tracking down a man who doesnít want to be interviewed and who apparently has done nothing to deserve the kind of pursuit Kate gives him. Bretís less than kind refusals to talk also did nothing for me. After a start like that, the characters need to redeem themselves big time before I want to keep reading.

They try. Kate is actually quite a nice person and Bret has done numerous good works throughout the area, including his work with abused children. Some of the kids were sweet and I enjoyed how Bret dealt with them. But the living characters in the book never totally sparked my interest. Neither did the dead one. James, the big mystery man, the character that compels Kate to write and Bret to feel guilt, was never made compelling enough for me to want to know what had really happened to him. How can a big deal rock star be a little bit boring? A big deal DEAD rock star at that. Feeling bored with him just doesnít seem right.

The solution to the big mystery also made me wonder if that solution was plausible . . . or even possible, given that Kateís book re-creates interest in Jamesí life and songs. The other problem is that the ending wasnít a complete surprise to the reader. Maybe the real problem here is that I resented being able to tell what the big surprise was in the book well before the end.

--Irene Williams


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