A quiet Maine town is beset by a series of disastrous happenings.
Liss MacCrimmon Ruskin is paying a visit to The Spruces, her father-in-law Joe’s hotel, when she spots a man and two women dressed in a decidedly old-fashioned way. They’re members of a group calling themselves the New Age Pilgrims whose leader, Hadley Spinner, is a dangerous bigot with crackpot ideas. He hires out the subservient women in the group as housecleaners and is furious when Joe refuses to hire them. Spinner gets back at Joe by starting a campaign accusing the hotel and other businesses in town of fostering immoral acts. His group and the allies he recruits picket the business area, and vandals paint vicious messages on several doors, including that of Liss’ Scottish Emporium. Liss' husband, Dan Ruskin, is furious enough to go out to the Pilgrims’ farm, confront Skinner, and nearly strangle him after his nasty verbal attack on Liss, who, along with their friend Sherri, the police chief, manages to pull him off. So it’s no wonder that when Liss' mother, Vi, finds Spinner stabbed to death in the middle of a big demonstration, Dan is a suspect. Vi, who knows how good Liss is at solving crimes (X Marks The Scot, 2017, etc.), wants to team up with her to prove that neither Dan nor any of their friends did the deed. Although even Liss’ beloved aunt has a motive for killing Spinner, it turns out that nobody killed him; the dead man is his look-alike cousin, Jasper. As almost everyone, including members of his own cult, continues to wish the victim had been Hadley, Liss investigates the past to identify a killer in the present.
Dunnett provides small-town charm and a determined sleuth who does a great job uncovering clues in a tale that rings all too true.