A bucolic fourth adventure for widowed Atlanta reporter Kate Mulcay (Dire Happenings at Scratch Ankle, 1993, etc.), who still lives in the log cabin once shared with policeman husband Benjy. There's now a development of expensive houses across the road, one of them owned by Bets and Bob Dunn. Meanwhile, Kate's own house is temporarily (she hopes) home to Edge and Bambi Green. Broke and claiming kinship, the two have moved in on softhearted Kate. They're no help, however, when her neighbor Eli Renty, in his eighties and given to wandering the woods aimlessly, disappears. His caretaker niece Charlene has also vanished. With diligent hunting, Kate and delinquent teenager Theron find Renty, badly beaten, and get him to the hospital. There's more trouble, though, when Bets Dunn is found murdered, with Kate a suspect. Not until after a second killing, and after Kate tracks down Bets's sister in California, do motive and murderer emerge from the Deep South fog. The author's sensitive, loving treatment of the rural landscape and its sinewy inhabitants carries more clout here than the subdued plot and its unsurprising solution. Warm and unpretentious, then, but not for robust tastes.