An open-and-shut case of murder in a coastal Oregon resort town can’t be closed even though everyone concerned knows perfectly well who’s responsible.
Stefany Markov, whose peaceful canvases belie her turbulent spirit, has never shown her husbands much patience. So when she learns that spouse #4, Dale Oliver, has put price tags on the paintings she was exhibiting at the Silver Bay gallery he owned with Freddi Wordling, no one’s surprised when she screams that he’s through. The surprise is the contract she signs authorizing him to exhibit and even sell work she’s been hoarding for 30 years. An even bigger surprise is the news that she signed the contract with Dale “Stephanie Markoff,” presumably intending that the misspellings of both her first and last names would void the contract and torment Dale. Sadly, this last revelation comes only after Stef has taken a fatal tumble down the stairs in her home and Dale indicates his intention of enforcing the contract. Stef’s mother Marnie and her daughter Van, both convinced that Dale pushed her to her death before she could shove him out of her life, ask Tony Mauricio, a New York cop sent into disability retirement by a hail of bullets, to prove that Dale killed Stef. The more closely Tony looks into the case, the less confident he is that there’s any evidence against Dale that rises to the level of legal proof. But even if Tony can’t send Dale to prison, he has a much better chance of killing him.
The creator of attorney Barbara Holloway (Heaven Is High, 2011, etc.) forgoes hot-button legal issues for a case that provides no mystery and little suspense but delivers the expected pleasures of the Howcatchem.