Another distinctive northern California magic-realist fantasy from the author of Land of Dreams (1987). To Mendocino comes museum curator Howard Barton in search of the McGuffin of the title, a sketch (?) with magical powers held by mysterious recluse Michael Graham. But when Howard arrives, Graham has vanished (supposedly a suicide); the weird Mr. Jimmers, inventor of a machine that materializes ghosts, now occupies his clifftop house. Howard calls on his penniless, oddball uncle Roy, former proprietor of a spirit museum, who's fighting a desperate, losing battle against the rapacious magnate and witch Heloise Lamey--she also covets the sketch. As Howard becomes romantically involved with Roy's daughter Sylvia, he struggles to make sense of the increasingly odd occurrences and to decide whose side he's on: When old Graham really dies, Howard is destined to become the sketch's new Keeper. Rather arcane in places and curiously lacking in thematic ambition, but seamlessly produced: intriguing and absorbing work from a major talent.