A pair of young travelers confront a retired schoolteacher with memories of her past and challenges for her future.
Rachel Jarvis is slowly adjusting to the death of her husband Ben. Although she gave up teaching literature long ago, she still reads Rimbaud with pleasure. She puts up with the fretfulness of her daughter Clarissa for the sake of her only grandchild, Madison. Her son Brett is away at college starting his own life. Then she gives a lift to Michael Broom, a young Californian looking to relocate to Oregon. She hires him to do odd jobs and allows him to live in the guesthouse her husband used as an office, never suspecting that he’ll bring his girlfriend Cara Littleton with him. Cara does her share of work, too, but she also proves powerfully attractive to Brett, who starts to spend less and less time at school and more and more with Cara. The discovery of a corpse at next-door Fargeau Vineyard brings Rachel into unwelcome contact with owner Rob Fargeau, with whom she had a brief rebound encounter after her college boyfriend dumped her. And a package she receives containing a chain obviously ripped from its wearer’s neck suggests there may be a darker side to Michael than he’s willing to admit. But as Brett and Cara’s relationship heats up, Rachel worries as much about what may happen next as about what’s already happened, until more murders convince her that the greatest danger is the present.
Moynahan’s debut is a decent tale, marred only slightly by her purplish prose.