An often enthralling, not entirely satisfying, mystery, set in Martha's Vineyard in 1880, a closed community where deafness is commonplace. Neufeld (Almost a Hero, 1995, etc.) never closes the credibility gaps in this story of an unlikely murder suspect. Readers meet Merry Skiffe, 12, on the run after learning that she's one of only four people on the island without an alibi at the time of the murder of Ned Nickerson, a dishonest, dissolute man who is hated by all. Merry's extreme fear of the law is supposedly explained by her having once rebuffed Nickerson's improper advances, but that's hardly reason enough for others to believe her capable of murder. The revelation of the real culprit--who's about to elope with Merry's deaf cousin--may come as a surprise to some, but the readers who will like this best will be those with an interest in Martha's Vineyard and the historical details Neufeld deftly works into the plot.