When a young woman is found dead on the side of a road and a second goes missing in Bear Falls, a quiet town on the shores of Lake Michigan, a local author turns sleuth.
The death of Janice Root is considered a hit-and-run even though she's found in an old-fashioned white dress, not her regular clothes, until the autopsy shows she was asphyxiated. Zoe Zola, who has dwarfism, is the smartest person in town, a published author whose latest work in progress on Jane Austen is giving her a giant headache. Zoe’s friends and next-door neighbors former librarian Dora Weston and her daughter, Jenny, have learned to put up with her grumpy moods, although Jenny has problems of her own: She’s not sure where her life is headed despite her relationship with retired cop Tony Ralenti. The second biggest story in town is the arrival of wealthy Fitzwilliam Dillon, who’s built a grand mansion on the lakeshore and plans to give the town $2 million for a project yet to be determined. Fitz is a dwarf who gets off to a bad start with prickly Zoe, but Jane Austen’s matchmaking parents have nothing on the mothers of Bear Falls, who consider Fitz and members of his entourage perfect husband material. Only when Cammy Otis, who’s a little slow and loves to wander in the woods, is reported missing does Zoe become involved. A major search turns up only the clothes Cammy was wearing. While the townspeople squabble over the best project for Fitz’s gift, Zoe wracks her brain trying to find the connection between Janice and Cammy. Hope fades as time passes, but Zoe refuses to give up.
Buzzelli’s well-developed characters (She Stopped for Death, 2017, etc.) are the stars of the show in a complex tale that tips more than a hat to Pride and Prejudice.