Multiple murders rock a small Hudson River town as disputes over land use turn deadly.
When Alta Ferguson falls to her death from Big Bear, the majestic outcrop she’d planned to dynamite to make way for her palatial cliffside estate, few residents of Clayburgh mourn her passing—least of all Paul and Marion Willard, whose 15-acre retreat had been threatened by Alta’s project. But eight years later, when Town Councilman Broderick “Bud” Hale is found dead at the bottom of the same cliff shortly before a critical vote to restrict building on Clayburgh’s steep slopes, his niece Janet Upton—who is also Marion’s cousin—suspects foul play. Janet’s life isn’t made any easier by the discovery that practical joker Bud left her and builder Charlie Emmett a parcel of land that may be worth half a million if its planned sale to a horse breeder—with its uncertain environmental impact—goes through. And the reappearance of Alta’s grown son Gregory, a budding photographer who persuades Janet to let him use the darkroom at the Arts Center she manages, doesn’t help. Dogged by steely-eyed sheriff’s investigator Noel Riesbach and supported by her childhood friend, attorney Eric Swenson, Janet struggles not only to do what’s right, but to know what’s right.
Sprague’s death leaves a promising new series by the creator of Martha Patterson (Death in a Heat Wave, 2003) an absorbing solo.