When the U.S. enters World War I, hate and suspicion triumph over rational thought.
Alafair Tucker, her husband, Shaw, and their 10 children live in rural Boynton, Oklahoma. Naturally, Alafair is worried about her sons being drafted, but she never suspects that a visit from her brother, Rob Gunn, will cause problems with people she’s known for years. Rob is a union organizer who’s lying low after his release from an internment camp for his involvement in an Arizona miners’ strike. While everyone waits to hear whose number has come up in the draft, strife breaks out between the pro-war patriots, who think anyone with a foreign-sounding name is a spy, and the anti-war socialists, some of whom want to march on Washington and take over the government. Alafair’s oldest son, Gee Dub, is a college student willing to do his duty. Her only other boy, 16-year-old Charlie, a firebrand unable to enlist, takes a job in a local brick factory while keeping up with his chores at home. Henry Blackwood, who’s staying with his uncle after having arrived on the same train as Rob and a mysterious stranger, becomes Charlie’s friend at the factory, where sabotage creates problems in meeting government orders. A black-robed pro-war group, the Knights of Liberty, is vandalizing property owned by so-called foreigners, including Alafair’s German-born son-in-law. When one of the Knights is found with his throat cut, Rob comes under suspicion. The Tuckers’ relationship with the sheriff keeps him out of jail, but Alafair, who has prior sleuthing experience (Hell With the Lid Blown Off, 2014, etc.), takes matters into her own hands to find the killer before more trouble comes to her family.
Casey’s skill at making you care about the injustices of a time and place not often covered in history books is second to none. The admirable mystery is the cherry on top.