A macabre celebration gives a successful author time to deal with her family’s mysterious past.
Growing up in Detroit, Zoe Zola, a little person, endured a lifetime’s worth of ridicule, but when her mother died, she moved to Bear Falls in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, where she’s made friends and gained a reputation as a sleuth whose cases (In Want of a Knife, 2018, etc.) all involve the works of famous authors. For many years, her mother, Evelyn, received black-edged envelopes in the mail, one of which may have precipitated her death. Evelyn’s family, the Jokelas, rejected both her and Zoe, who was born out of wedlock. Now Zoe’s received an envelope of her own from the Northern Michigan Agatha Christie Society, inviting her to a seminar at a lodge in the Upper Peninsula. Luckily, her friend Jenny is willing to take her along while she visits her sister, Lisa, who’s filming a documentary on a group of Finnish women living in the area. Zoe’s invitation is signed by Emily Brent, a character in And Then There Were None, and despite a suspicion that the whole event has been arranged just for her, Zoe agrees to go. After a long ride over partially flooded roads, they arrive at Netherworld Lodge, where Jenny leaves Zoe to her fate. The lodge has seen better days, but the food is excellent. Not so the other participants—college professors, editors, graduate students—all of whom seem a bit odd. Each of them is presenting his or her take on Agatha Christie and her works in a webinar, and each one is aware Christie is the subject of Zoe’s planned book. As some of them begin to disappear overnight, just as in Christie’s famous novel, Zoe becomes both fearful and determined to unravel the puzzle in a bid to understand why her family’s shunned her.
A dark, creepy, character-driven thriller with a particularly devious plot.