A young man does his level best to prevent his mother from being arrested for murder.
Jim Spencer, whose family has moved to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, is entering his first year in high school. Jim is an extrovert, bright but sensitive about his height, while his brooding older brother Raven is protective and quiet. Their mother, who calls herself Ariel, is an artist who used to live in the Pine Barrens. Her past is shrouded in mystery, and she has repressed many memories. But now she’s returned hoping for answers. Jim meets his distant cousin Mary on a bus, and they quickly become friends. While out for a walk, they discover the body of Nora Butler, housekeeper for the reclusive Mr. Sawyer, who’s living in the Pine Barrens to be eligible for an inheritance. Jim is shocked to learn that Nora was Ariel’s mother. The estrangement between the two makes Ariel the number one suspect. While sleuthing, Jim learns a lot about the history of the Pine Barrens, including tales of the Jersey Devil and other mythical creatures that haunt the area. As Ariel reluctantly consults a psychiatrist in the hope of resolving her past issues, her family does everything possible to keep her out of jail.
Veteran Seewald (Death Legacy, 2012, etc.) is joined by her son Andrew for this weak mystery that nevertheless presents some interesting characters and historical tidbits about the Pine Barrens, its real star.