In a skillfully done second novel, Forbes (Alma Rose, 1993) again displays a gift for the critical detail, elegant description, and quiet yet evocative character portrayal. The three thirtysomething Nowle children reunite in Worthing, the picturesque Vermont farm town of their childhood, under the worst of all possible circumstances, their father Vernon having died suddenly, an apparent suicide. But when only daughter and eldest child Vincie--arriving at the farmhouse with her pompous, domineering husband Gifford--learns that Vernon was found slumped over the kitchen table, his dogs locked in the house with him, she becomes immediately suspicious: Her father was a man for whom animals always came first, and though she finds his suicide unlikely, the idea of his allowing his dogs to suffer is inconceivable. Her brothers--biology teacher Darrell, a carbon copy of his strong, silent father, and the dashing city-slicker Chad--claim to agree, but the only suspects that investigating officer Bret Leroux (a former classmate of Vincie's) seems interested in are the Nowle children themselves. When Vincie learns that her father had been in the process of (but had not yet completed) making plans to turn his land over to conservationists, the plot thickens, a motive for murder appears, and Gifford, as well as Darrell's wife Georgeanne, must also be considered suspects. Meanwhile, as Vincie struggles to solve the mystery of her father's death, she enters into several simultaneous quests: to uncover the circumstances of her mother Phoebe's fatal tractor accident 19 months earlier; to determine if her own marriage is indeed the prison it seems; to get to know her brothers (for really the first time) as adults; and to find--after a lifetime of running away from roots, family, and ambition--her essential self. A story, like a timeles New England landscape, that lingers in the best possible way.