Prohibition-era park ranger Timothy McIntyre comes to the rescue of a local lodge owner threatened with every conceivable sort of sabotage.
John Frye is so irascible that he’s impossible to love; his few neighbors in Rocky Mountain National Park think of his wife, Hattie, as ever suffering. But that’s no reason, or almost no reason, for someone to be firing bullets at him or setting booby traps designed to electrocute him or destroying his boiler and threatening his Small Delights Lodge with an explosion. McIntyre’s supervisor, Nick Nicholson, who knows that Frye’s been at odds for years with Catherine Croker, the widow who owns nearby Grand Harbor Lodge, wants McIntyre to put an end to their squabbling once and for all. That turns out to be a tall order for several reasons. Neither owner shows any inclination to call off the hostilities. Polly Sheldon, Hattie’s jack-of-all-trades niece, suspects that the attempts on Frye’s life are deliberate near misses intended to scare him into selling his place to Catherine, who covets it more than the fountain of youth, or to the Chicago bootleggers who’ve recently been spotted in the vicinity looking for a toehold. And there’s always the chance that Polly is wrong and that one of the attempts will succeed before McIntyre, a nice enough man but not a towering intellect, can figure out who’s behind them. Looking outside his tiny department, whose leading lights are Russ Frame, a ranger newly arrived from Yosemite, and Charlie Nevis, whose long tenure in the park still hasn’t taught him to tuck in his shirt, McIntyre joins forces with Vi Coteau, assistant to the FBI agent in Denver, for several rounds of low-level sleuthing and some even more low-level socializing.
Given the severe economy of both successful criminal activity and detective work, following the easygoing footsteps of the hero (Ranger McIntyre: Unmentionable Murders, 2018, etc.) is a lot like being on a 1920s vacation, with nothing much to do but take in the sights.