A high school music teacher is caught in a scandal during the last sultry days of summer in a small Delaware town. Steven Blake is suddenly accused of sleeping with one of his students, bright but troubled Lisa Wood. He rejects the school's offer of a furtive resignation in order to discover the truth behind this false accusation. When Gail Moncure, Steven's upwardly mobile wife, a lawyer who longs to move to a big city, hears that he has rejected the easy way out, she walks out on him and their already failing marriage. Complications abound since Gail used to be married to Lisa's father, Jacob Wood, a hard-nosed realtor who has long held a grudge against Steven for marrying Gail. Steven sees Lisa in secret and she confesses that her father has put her up to the surprise accusation; she also shows him plans that indicate her father is involved in some shady real-estate deals. When Lisa's body is found floating in the bay, Steven is the prime murder suspect and must struggle to clear his name and find the real killer. As his world falls apart, his only allies are his fellow teacher Jimmy Van Dusen, the school psychologist, Melinda Samuels, and the musicians he moonlights with on weekends. First-novelist Owens's potentially intriguing idea—innocent man uncovers the secrets of a small town—gets bogged down in a slow and predictable plot with sketchy and stereotypical characters.
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