In a third outing, p.i. Maggie Elliott (The Cable Car Murder, Murder at Vassar), recovering from a debilitating illness, is living in northern California, in the remote forest cabin left to her partner Richard O'Reagan by his Aunt Bessie. Its peaceful ambiance is shattered by news of the gruesome killing of a young hiker and the rape of his girl companion, who's comatose in a nearby hospital. Maggie, to her horror, discovers that the girl is Sally, daughter of her old friend Hallie Stephens. Sally will be at risk as long as the killer's loose, and Maggie promises her mother that she'll try to find the culprit. The lonely mountain-trail site of the murder has a surprising number of frequenters--little Hermina, an Indian girl whose great-grandmother's cabin is due to be razed by the Forest Service; a Chinese man staying in a motel who claims to be just a tourist; gossipy old-timer Joey Brown; Bill Dawson, looking for signs of Bigfoot; and several others. By the time Maggie succeeds in getting a wrongly accused Indian off the hook and brings the real villain into the open, there will have been more murders and a further attempt of Sally's life. Full of Indian and gold-mining lore, old and new love affairs, including Maggie's own with environmentalist Jim Pepper, the rambling story here never matches the pithiness of its first chapter--but an intrepid Maggie and an exotic puzzle will keep the reader entertained, if not enthralled.