SF/fantasist Wilhelm interrupts her series of legal dramas starring Barbara Hollway (Defense for the Devil, 1999, etc.) for a stand-alone whodunit that develops into a did-he-do-it.
During the years she needed him most, Abby Connor’s father was never entirely there for her. He split up with his wife instead of buckling down to solve the problems that haunted their marriage; he toiled for years in obscurity as an unsuccessful writer; he retreated to a wilderness cabin like a hermit, then mortgaged the cabin, his only possession, to the hilt. But all that time, Abby felt closer to Judson Vickers than to anybody else in her life, and now that Jud’s achieved wealth and fame as a novelist and a certain notoriety as a murder victim, the mysterious bond she’s always felt with him seems closer than ever. Closer and more demanding, since the discoveries she’ll make about Jud will sorely challenge her patience, her tolerance, and her understanding of her father’s past and his self-willed isolation, her own links to him, and the world she’s continued to take for granted ever since striking out on her own, first as gambler Matthew Petrie’s wife, now as financial advisor Brice Connors’s. As she takes on the daunting role of Jud’s literary executor along with the unwelcome role of bereaved daughter, she’ll have to contend with the former teacher who became her father’s self-possessed lover; Jud’s coolly knowing neighbors; the police’s courteously persistent questioning; and Brice’s jealousy of her enduring love for her father. Ever so slowly—though not as slowly as in a true whodunit—Abby’s suspicions will focus on one of the few intimates Jud could have admitted to the cabin without his dog barking.
From the opening obsequies to the climactic game of cat and mouse, Wilhelm gilds the oh-so-familiar plot with a sensitivity that makes Abby’s detective work seem like a logical extension of her grieving.