1968. Gorman takes sleuthing Iowa attorney Sam McCain from the Democratic National Convention to a more personal rendezvous with history.
Just because everybody in Black River Falls knows each other doesn’t mean that they all like each other. Judge Esme Whitney and Police Chief Cliffie Sykes look down their noses at the scruffy young people in Richard Donovan’s commune. Vanessa Mainwaring must have had her reasons for dumping her troubled ex-boyfriend Neil Cameron. And clearly someone took against Vanessa—someone who stabbed her to death in the commune’s horse barn. When Sam’s attempt to bring Neil in for questioning is thwarted when Neil’s sister, Sarah Powers, knocks him out long enough for Neil to make his escape, Sarah naturally gets arrested herself, and Sam naturally agrees to represent her. Though Vanessa’s wealthy father, liberal industrialist Paul Mainwaring, hires Sam to investigate, he turns on him once Neil is found shot to death and Sam refuses to accept his apparent suicide as the end of the road. Even the Mainwaring home, it turns out, houses plenty of conflict. Paul and Eve, his carefully groomed second wife, may be comfortable with their open marriage, but it had been driving Vanessa and her sister Nicole crazy. Nor does Sam’s dogged persistence with a case everyone else regards as closed win him any new friends.
As usual in this warmly observed series, the mystery is untidy. Read this installment, like all the others (Ticket to Ride, 2009, etc.), for the pop-historical detail and the loving evocation of small-town America.