Still recovering from the gruesome death of her best friend Nina West (Large Target, 2000), plus-size heroine Josephine Fuller is somewhat queasily exploring her feelings for Nina’s lover Thor Mulligan. Meanwhile, she’s on an assignment for her wealthy patron Alicia Madrone, working as a volunteer at the Women’s Job Skill Center in Bremerton, an hour’s ferry ride from Jo’s apartment in Seattle. Is the Center worthy of Madrone’s philanthropy? The question is still unresolved when humorist writer Ted Etheridge appears one day, looking for one-time volunteer Lucille Meeker. Jo has a history with Ted, who’s not quite divorced from mountain climber Francesca Benedict, the woman whose affair with Jo’s husband Griff led to Jo’s divorce. Now Francesca has lodged a complaint against the Center, claiming that Lucille has stolen her laptop computer along with various files. But when Jo decides to follow up on this accusation by interviewing Francesca, she arrives at her apartment only to find her dead, killed by one of her ice axes, as her lesbian sister Isadora Freechild flees the scene. And that’s only the beginning of a morass of plots and subplots, as Jo struggles to cope with the bad vibes in her apartment (eventually cured by a psychic); the presence of unsavory Dick Slattery in neighbor Maxine’s apartment; a missing Cayman Islands bankbook showing millions on deposit, and much, much more.
To reduce it to simpler terms: Too many storylines plus too many characters equals maximum confusion and minimum suspense.