An auctioneer tries to help her boyfriend free a fellow veteran suffering from PTSD when he’s accused of murder.
Wren Morgan has finally been able to get into Hadleigh House, a huge old mansion near her Missouri hometown, which is being auctioned off along with its contents and which Wren has been hired to catalog. The death on a nearby trail of a man dressed in an antique Confederate uniform and riding a stolen horse has been written off as a drunken accident. But another fatality has become the concern of Wren’s private-eye boyfriend, Death Bogart, a veteran who suffers from lung problems and PTSD. Death has accepted the pro bono case of Anthony Dozier, another Afghan vet suffering from PTSD, who was found with the body of August Jones, a man he imagined was a fellow soldier he was trying to get to a field hospital. The dead man’s father, Tyler Jones, heads the Church of the Army of Christ, a hate group that persecutes non-Christians. The church demonstrated at the funeral of Dozier’s Muslim wife, and Dozier threatened to kill Jones. Dozier’s lawyer is pursuing an insanity plea, but after Death takes the case at the behest of a group of veterans living next to Hadleigh House, he becomes convinced that Dozier is innocent and sets out to prove it. Wren, meanwhile, finds among the contents of the house a sketchbook containing beautiful preliminary work for the statue of an angel in the nearby cemetery, which turns out to be the scene of August’s stabbing. While Death and his brother, Randy, look for clues in the present, Wren investigates the past even as a killer does everything possible to thwart the investigation.
Ross’ sleuthing pair (Death and the Brewmaster’s Widow, 2015, etc.) again faces a present-day murder steeped in historical detail. The subpar mystery is offset by the ripped-from-the-headlines buzz.