A busy Washington lawyer returns home to sort out the details of her sister’s shadowy life and suspicious death.
When Alma Terrebonne receives word that her younger sister has died, she flies back to her hometown of Billings, Montana, and ends up shouldering more responsibility than she anticipated. There are no easy explanations for what happened. Vicky left her 11-year-old daughter, Brittany, in the early hours of the morning, and her frozen body was found hours later. The police find some physical evidence suggesting it may have been murder. Alma’s investigation reaffirms what's known around town: Vicky was a drug user who hung out with lowlifes and owed money to everyone; her own dysfunctional family, from her older brother to the aunt and uncle who raised her following the deaths of her parents, wasn’t immune. She even approached her grandmother about signing over mining rights to the family’s homestead to a seedy land agent, a man who threatens Alma when confronted. A part of the family for generations, the home place was built by her great-grandfather and represents to Alma comfort and memories of simpler and happier times. After law enforcement officers remove a drug dealer and remnants of a meth lab from the premises without taking standard safety precautions, Alma—apparently unconcerned about possible toxic contaminants—moves in with her traumatized niece. She plans to stay only a few days before turning Brittany over to her aunt and uncle’s care and returning to her job in Washington, but she becomes increasingly aware that her niece’s well-being is in her hands. During the course of their stay, she reignites a friendship with her high school sweetheart, Chance, and rediscovers long-dormant emotions. She also learns the lengths people will go to safeguard themselves and others.
In her sympathetic if somewhat uneven debut, La Seur entices readers with impeccable prose imbued with a blend of romance, nostalgia and suspense. There are plenty of enjoyable red herrings and tarnished characters, but some of the details lack credibility.