A philosopher, a physician, and a free-spirited woman work together to solve a mystery in the 19th century.
Talented portrait painter Julia Pelletier has always been in love with Dr. Adam Walker but was falsely told they were cousins. After marrying in haste, she discovers that her husband owned slave ships. Outraged, she leaves him in France and moves into the home she’s inherited from her grandfather in Plumford, Massachusetts. There, she realizes that Adam is not her cousin, and they secretly become lovers. A friend to both of them, Henry Thoreau, has left Walden Pond to involve himself in the Underground Railroad. Julia has just offered her house as a station when Henry comes upon the body of Ezra Tripp, a conductor whose passenger was not delivered and is now missing. All three friends have been involved in a murder investigation before (Thoreau On Wolf Hill, 2014), and when someone sends a warning that Underground Railroad conductors are marked for death, they resolve to find the killer. A thorough search of Phantom Bog does not reveal the missing slave, but Julia eventually finds her and hides her in her attic. The slave's owner, who’s in love with her, arrives determined to find her. Julia’s worries about keeping the woman safe are compounded when she learns that her own husband has arrived from France and that she’s pregnant. The three sleuths pool their distinctive skills to unravel the complicated mystery.
Although the story could use some pruning, it provides plenty of vividly presented historical information on the Underground Railroad and Thoreau’s world in the 1840s.