A tiny Maine island provides the setting for a modern-day murder and a puzzle from the past.
Julia Snowden’s family runs a clambake business whose profits rely on the tourist trade. The season is almost over when handsome lobsterman Jason Caraway causes bad feelings by flirting madly with single mom Emmy Bailey, one of the servers, much to the chagrin of Pru Caraway, Jason’s ex-wife, who also works at the Snowden Family Clambake Company. Also involved in this combustible brew is Terry Durand, the elder brother of Julia’s boyfriend, Chris, who’s recently been released from prison. Meanwhile, Julia is deeply immersed in the renovation of Windsholme, her family's abandoned mansion, which hasn’t been used since 1929. The contractor is starting demolition on the third floor so that elderly family member Marguerite Morrow can make one last visit before the house is irrevocably changed forever. Julia notices that Jason seems to know one of the Russian immigrants on the demolition crew. The tour discloses a walled-off room still containing furniture, clothes, and a journal dating back to the late 1800s. Then Jason and Terry get into a fistfight that makes Terry the police’s top suspect when Julia finds Jason with his head bashed in—though they’re also interested in the missing Dmitri, whose excellent English made him the natural spokesperson for the Russians. Jason was hiding many secrets, some of which will prove dangerous for Julia as she continues her sleuthing in the past and present. Even though Julia has previous experience with murder (Steamed Open, 2018, etc.), the police are ambivalent about accommodating her attempts to prove Terry innocent. Her whole family, meantime, is fascinated by the mystery of who lived in the walled-off room and hopes the journal will provide the answers.
The beautiful landscape of coastal Maine adds local color to two intriguing mysteries.