Hardworking farm wife Alafair Tucker unravels more mysterious deaths among her Oklahoma neighbors (All Men Fear Me, 2015, etc.).
The sprawling Tucker clan, already dreading the loss of their boys to the Hun, faces a new threat: Spanish influenza. Pulled from her farm into town to nurse one of her daughters, Mrs. Tucker makes the acquaintance of Nola Thomason, along with Dorothy, her young daughter, and Lewis, her grown son. As the deadly epidemic spreads through town, Nola and Lewis are struck down—but their deaths look very different from those of the flu victims. Dorothy, the only witness, refuses to speak a word. When it comes to treating the sick, Alafair’s common sense and smattering of Cherokee folk wisdom come head to head with the experimental scientific outlook of the only doctor available, but they make common cause around the peculiar deaths. The family pulls together to quarantine the young ones and nurse the sick, until wild-hearted Sophronia Tucker takes a risk that puts them all in danger. Sophronia’s companionship and Alafair’s care eventually coax Dorothy to share her story, pointing the way to the guilty party so that Mrs. Tucker and Dr. Carney can bring justice and closure.
The mystery comes in second (or maybe third) to history lessons and paeans to traditional American values in this folksy tale of small towns and big hearts.