Why would a man confess to a murder if he didn’t commit it?
Larry Peterson dies of a heart attack after spending 10 years in prison for strangling his sister Linda, apparently jealous that she was to be named the next bank president when their dad died. But just as Larry shuffles off this mortal coil, Sheriff Milo Dodge receives anonymous letters threatening mayhem unless he proves that Larry didn’t do it. Then Emma Lord, publisher of the Alpine Advocate (The Alpine Uproar, 2009, etc.) is sent a similar letter. Retracing the original story with input from Vida Runkel, the House & Home editor who knows everybody in town going back several generations, Emma keeps circling around the attack on reclusive artist Craig Laurentis, hospitalized after being shot in the woods, perhaps by maple-tree poachers (don’t ask). If his most recent painting, a dour departure from his former style, holds a clue, Emma can’t fathom it. Besides, she must deal with Denise, Larry’s dimwitted daughter, who’s currently temping at the Advocate, where she wants to bring her ex’s dog to work; Denise’s brothers, in town for their dad’s funeral and their mother’s unexpected suicide; and a ghastly hostage takeover that endangers Milo and his daughter. By the time facts, fallacies and half-truths have been sorted out, there will be two dead, two wounded and a bail-jumping poacher with an unspeakable secret.
Daheim’s series—like Alpine, the kind of town that considers you a newcomer if you’ve only lived there 10 years—bustles with small-town charm and convoluted family relationships.