LeCraw’s remarkably confident first novel begins seven years after an unsolved murder and explores the ripple effect both of decisions that may have caused the murder and its aftermath.
Cecil McClatchy was away on a business trip when his wife Betsy was murdered in their Atlanta home, but he was clearly a suspect. Months later Cecil died in a car accident and the case has never been solved. Now Cecil’s grown children are spending the summer at the McClatchy summer place on Cape Cod. Daughter Callie has chosen to recover there after the difficult birth of her second child. Callie’s brother Jed has taken a leave from his legal career to stay with her since her husband can only commute from his own career on weekends—an example of LeCraw’s sometimes unconvincing plotting. In the attic Jed finds a bathing suit he knows was not his mother’s but belonged to a Cape neighbor, Marcella Atkinson, on whom he once had an adolescent crush and whose college-age daughter Toni is currently working for Callie as a nanny. Soon Jed is at her doorstep in Connecticut asking why the bathing suit turned up at his house. Marcella, long divorced from her seemingly aloof husband Anthony, confesses that she and Cecil had an affair, that she knows he was innocent of murder because they were together. In fact that very weekend Cecil had told her his decision to stay in his marriage; after Betsy’s death, he made Marcella promise not to acknowledge the affair to protect his children from further pain. Soon Jed and Marcella begin their own secret affair complicated by Toni’s obvious crush on Jed. Meanwhile Callie sinks into dangerous postpartum depression exacerbated by unresolved grief over the loss of her parents. Every character feels guilt or at least regret, some with more reason than others.
Whether open or suppressed, passion rules events, but this is not a murder mystery; instead LeCraw reveals the complex moral and psychological mystery within all relationships.