A West Coast convention for Bigfoot believers takes a hairy turn.
After happily meeting up with her former roommate Susan Lockley at their 40th college reunion at Oberlin in Ohio, Hannah Ives takes a slight detour on her return trip home to Annapolis—all the way to the Flat Rock Mountain Lodge in Oregon, venue of the Sasquatch Sesquicentennial. Susan, the event’s organizer, suddenly needs an assistant, and she taps Hannah. Perhaps the distance from her husband, who’s somewhere in the Atlantic on a naval training cruise, makes Hannah more susceptible than usual to one of the conventioneers, handsome ex-detective Jake Cummings, who’s attending with his retired K-9 partner. Jake is a Squatcher who works with the Bigfoot Field Research Organization. To anyone less charming, Hannah might not restrain her skepticism. Far less polite is Martin Radcliffe, a professional debunker. At his opening-night session, he insults Jim Davis, who’s set up a 360-degree motion-activated video camera near the lodge to track Bigfoot. The next day, a lecture on Bigfoot scat is interrupted when something activates Davis’ camera. The live feed shows a huge apelike creature and a bludgeoned body wearing Radcliffe’s trademark lime-green sneakers. Hannah not only helps Susan keep the conference on track, but also works with Jake and the local sheriff to sort out the suspects, including Davis and four other attendees whom Radcliffe publicly humiliated: the scatologist, the author of the definitive book on Bigfoot, a Sasquatch hunter hoping to find Bigfoot living in lava caves, and the Native American who found the caves by pendulum divination. But are Hannah and Jake looking in the right direction? Could the killer have something else to gain from Radcliffe’s death? Or could it actually have been a Bigfoot wielding a very large stick?
As Talley’s 15th cozy reminds us once more, you can’t take her genial heroine (Daughter of Ashes, 2015, etc.) anywhere without her stumbling into a different form of homicide.