Trust southern mountain folk to offer a unique brand of hospitality. When Fever Devilin quits academia and returns to his family cabin in the Georgia woods, the welcome left on his porch is a dead body who looks remarkably like him. And if that's not traumatic enough, there's a quick hail of bullets aimed at him and Deputy Skidmore Needle, his old buddy. Fever, a folklorist and mandolin player, can't figure out why someone wants him dead, even after talking it over with Shoo, a carver, Carson, a fiddler, and Hezekiah, a charismatic preacher. In this pocket of southern backwoods, however, the answer clearly lies deep in his family history, which includes a play-around mom, a couple of half-brothers, and some dispute over his daddy's identity—possibly the Rev. Coombs, who preceded Hezekiah as custodian of the church's relic, a valuable Serpent Bowl of Celtic origins; possibly Dr. Bishop, Fever's university mentor, who discovered that bowl years back. But Winton Andrews, like his pal Fever a Burrison University scholar, insists the bowl is a fake, thereby setting the stage for more deaths, several surprise appearances of persons long thought dead, and a confrontation on Blue Mountain's Devil's Hearth that will explain all, including Fever's parentage.
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