The death of her father opens both new heartaches and new opportunities for surgical resident Dr. Emily Hartford.
A providential unannounced visit on her way back to Chicago puts Emily on the scene in time to call an ambulance for Dr. Robert Hartford, the veteran coroner of Freeport County, Michigan, but although the prompt medical attention he receives enables him to tell his daughter, “The day…your mom died…I was meeting…a woman,” it isn’t enough to save his life. No sooner has Emily, shocked at the death of her long-estranged father so soon after they’d tentatively reconciled (The Coroner, 2018), arranged for his funeral than County Sheriff Nick Larson begs her to identify a collection of bones that’s been unearthed in the excavation for a new housing development. Nick arranges for University of Michigan forensic anthropologist Dr. Charles Payton to make the identification, and he confirms Nick’s hunch about the bones: They’re human, they’re female, and in life they belonged to Sandi Parkman, a high school student who went missing 10 years ago. Now Emily finds herself pressed from every side imaginable. Brandon, the Chicago surgeon she just broke up with, wants to go through with their wedding and indicates that he’s willing to bend over backward to accommodate her. Dr. Claiborne, her retiring supervisor in Chicago, wants to know if she and Brandon are interested in taking over his practice. Freeport County commissioner Hank Wurthers wants to know if she intends to stand for election to coroner in her father’s place. On top of everything else, her father’s will reveals that she has a half sister, Anna Johnson, whom she’s never heard of, much less met. Despite her grief, Emily disguises herself on two separate occasions to visit the Silver Slipper, where Sandi’s kid sister, Tiffani, interrupts her pole dancing long enough to intimate that Nick killed her sister.
More interested in the heroine’s amatory adventures and future home than in a piddling murder or two.