Who’s buried in the grave Irene Kelly’s sister Barbara had already picked out for herself in the family plot? Realizing that it’s her long-unseen aunt, Briana Maguire, a file clerk who became a hit-and-run victim two weeks ago, leads Irene into only deeper mysteries. Why did Briana disinherit her rolling-stone son Travis in favor of Irene, who hadn’t seen her for 25 years? What exactly did the family quarrel that kept Irene and Briana apart have to do with Briana’s bigamous husband, Arthur Sperry (ne’ Spanning), or the murder 20 years ago of Arthur’s first wife, sugar-beet heiress Gwendolyn DeMont? Why is the DeMont murder, so long dormant, now threatening Irene’s life via fires and bombs? Who is Harold Richmond, the unscrupulous private eye who’s been stalking Irene, working for? And how can the rifts--chasms, really--in the DeMont and Spanning and Maguire families be mended after all the suspicion and distrust over adultery and bigamy and murder have festered for all these years? The questions are reminiscent of Ross Macdonald at his thorniest. But Burke, whose return to straight detection after the imperiled-hostage scenario of Hocus (1997) produces the biggest and most complex of her six novels, has Macdonald’s sense of family doom without his control of subplots and clues or his economy in managing revelations. The result is a warmly detailed extended-family portrait that conveys a constant sense of menace without providing a compelling payoff or, in retrospect, a strong central premise.