Bullying, blackmail and natural disaster: just another 1916 summer day in Boynton, Okla.
Boynton and the surrounding areas are typical rural communities with many hardworking people and a small group of troublemakers. The hard workers include the family members of ever curious Alafair Tucker (Crying Blood, 2011, etc.). Alafair and her husband, Shaw, have 10 children, a farm and little time for much but work. But when their pretty 17-year-old daughter, Ruth, runs afoul of Jubal Beldon, the oldest of six lazy, crude local bullies, Alafair sets aside her chores and turns sleuth. The musically talented Ruth has been spending time at the home of wealthy, widowed piano teacher Beckie MacKenzie, who’s extremely proud of her Scottish heritage and her grandson, Wallace MacKenzie III, who's just come for a visit with his college friend Randal Wakefield. When Ruth is harassed by Jubal and his brothers, she doesn’t mention it to her admirer, deputy sheriff Trenton Calder, who’s furious when he hears about it. Meanwhile, Jubal, who loves to collect dirty secrets, spices up a church picnic by quietly accusing Wallace and Randal of being lovers. After Wallace gives Jubal some cash and a new moneymaking idea, he and Randal high-tail it out of town. Then it's time for a twister to blow through the area, causing indescribable destruction and killing Jubal and a number of others. Nobody, even his mother, is sorry Jubal’s dead—but when the undertaker says he was probably murdered, Sheriff Calder and Alafair must hunt for his killer anyway.
A good mystery with an odd final twist is eclipsed by frighteningly detailed descriptions of the terrors of tornadoes.