Scars left by the War of Independence, some never healed, underlie the current troubles of many of the townspeople of Rufford, Maine, in 1786. Years before, when her husband James, a Loyalist, fled to Canada, midwife Hannah Trevor was taken in by her aunt Julie and uncle Henry Markham, a mill owner. Hannah's now eight-year-old deaf-mute daughter Jennet was born not long after, fathered not by James but by Major Daniel Josselyn, a British aristocrat turned Patriot who's now in a landowning partnership with money-grubbing Ham Siwall; Josselyn's riverside mansion is shared with his invalid English wife Charlotte. Meanwhile, the discovery of the beaten, raped body of Anthea Emory has the village in a turmoil of suspicion and accusation. Hannah and sturdy town constable Will Quaid found the victim, along with a letter accusing Josselyn of the crime, although it was said that Anthea could neither read nor write. Gossip has it that her husband Dunstan, a surveyor for Josselyn's business, was sent into the forbidding Outward forest on a fool's errand. Hannah, as she probes the mystery of Anthea's past, finds connections to the town of Webb's Ford and to what took place there at war's end. A second killing, this one executed with an antique hunting sword given to Josselyn by his grandfather, ties the noose tighter around his neck, as events reach their melodramatic end in the heart of the Outward. A remarkably accomplished first novel, only infrequently marred by overwrought passages, that masterfully combines war history, village life, a gallery of memorable characters, and a tantalizing puzzle. Rich and riveting.