When Mike Mackellar, ex-cop, ex-p.i., paraplegic dart-thrower, loving husband and father, dies, his wife moves to the family’s summer home in Port Silva and hangs up her own shingle: Patience Smith, Investigations. Patience has been running the gamut from finding lost pets on up when her daughter Verity flees San Francisco and a failing marriage to join her mother, and soon learns that not even her Stanford MBA can keep her from taking to investigative work. Enter David Simonov, who hires the mother-daughter team to find his ex-wife—beautiful, sad Lilly—and their nonconformist daughter, Sylvie, seven. The search leads south to San Francisco and The Bull and Grizzly, where Lilly’s second husband, Simonov’s best friend Devlin Costello, lived and patrolled the bar before he too disappeared. Verity takes her soon-to-be ex-husband Ted to the bar with her and beats him at darts, and, later on, at marital wrestling. Meantime, Patience employs her namesake virtue in dealing with Lilly’s bitter foster mother and points the search back up north toward the Lost Coast, an ancient redwood forest thronging with marijuana farmers, homeless wanderers, and religious outcasts whose numbers may now include Lilly and Sylvie. Verity, pursued by her own and other demons, arrives at the fundamentalist cult’s gate, also seeking sanctuary—but finds that sanctuary, like charity, has its limits.
LaPierre (Baby Mine, 1999, etc.) hits the bull’s-eye, presenting even the most minor characters with equal parts compassion and judgment against a gorgeous backdrop, and topping the whole show off with a surprise ending.