The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - FEBAOTUORK­ES -

So Much Pretty Cara Hoffman, Cen­tury, $32.95 This first novel by a for­mer in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter is like an or­ches­tra tun­ing up; the shift­ing nar­ra­tive and con­stant flash­backs make for a dis­jointed ca­coph­ony lack­ing di­rec­tion. Then it sud­denly co­a­lesces into an ar­rest­ing com­po­si­tion. At its most ba­sic, it’s the story of three women – a vic­tim, a re­porter and a cru­sader – in ru­ral Amer­ica. When wait­ress Wendy White goes miss­ing, the po­lice are clue­less and the pop­u­lace prefers to blame the prover­bial drifter. Re­porter Stacey Flynn fears oth­er­wise. Then there’s Alice Piper, the daugh­ter of hip­pies with over­ac­tive so­cial con­sciences. In a very clever plot, all the seem­ingly in­con­se­quen­tial de­tail of the early chap­ters fi­nally makes per­fect – if shock­ing – sense. Shel­ley Or­chard

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