Meg Mogrin tries to do the right thing, something she’s failed at once before, as she’s dragged into clashes between homeless people and business interests in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Meg once taught. Then her sister was murdered by Neulan, a serial killer who escaped arrest. Then Neulan died in a fall. Meg and her husband, Brian, were involved. Meg’s moral center shifted, and her marriage collapsed. Burdened by guilt, she left teaching for real estate. Still plagued by guilt, she does penance by devoting energy to a local organization, the Homeless Coalition. Now her friend Eve Winslow, the city's mayor, and other major players are subtly hinting that Meg should help displace the homeless from the scrubland where they've been living to secure a location for a multimillion dollar project, the Betterment Longevity Institute. In narrative threads ebbing and flowing, a lot happens: Betterment’s smarmy Lew Hungerman wants to sleep with Meg and use her to roust the homeless; a brilliant homeless man, Isaac Samson, discovers a clue to Neulan’s death; Pandora Cox, an edgy teen who earned a scholarship sponsored by Meg, instead heads for the North Dakota oil fields with her controlling boyfriend. Quimby’s (Monument Road, 2013, etc.) descriptions of Colorado’s high country show a painterly flare, and he offers keen insights into human dynamics—as when Meg meditates on a man’s "power of denial and condescension." Quimby also writes powerfully of marriage and its meaning, as Meg and Brian, doing his own penance at an isolated reservation, dance quietly toward reconciliation. The opening two-thirds of the story reads as a complex setting of scene and circumstances, but then Quimby charges toward an emotionally satisfying conclusion.
More angst than action, more internal conflict than outright adventure, yet an intriguing examination of people and a place in transition.