You’ll Never Know, Dear

Hallie Ephron’s latest novel of suspense, “You’ll Never Know, Dear” (William Morrow, 290 pages), blends elements of the macabre with a strong dash of soap opera.

Elizabeth “Lis” Strenger, nee Lissie Woodham, has been haunted by the loss of her little sister Janey, who mysteriously disappeared while playing with her older sister in the family front yard nearly 40 years ago.

Lis’s mother, Miss Sorrel, has never gotten over the loss of her little Janey.

Each year, on the anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance, Miss Sorrel places a classified advertisement in the local newspapers.

Now, nearly 40 years later, a young woman shows up with a doll which looks like the doll Miss Sorrel had made for her missing daughter.

As a doll maker of some reputation, Miss Sorrel is convinced this porcelain doll was her daughter’s and may hold the clue to finding what became of Janey.

What ensues is a mystery with a strong element of “Peyton Place” as deadly family secrets of the Woodham clan are revealed in this seemingly placid fictitious city of Bonsecours, South Carolina.

While the identity of the villain in this novel is rather obvious, Hallie Ephron has done a great job in picking a subject (dolls) which seem innocent enough and, yet, suggests something sinister and haunting as in the sudden disappearance of a child.

Hallie Ephron’s “You’ll Never Know, Dear” is just the right novel for the family vacation, even if it may make you keep a sharper eye out on the little ones.