The disappearance of his artist wife pulls the owner of an Oregon kayak store seriously outside his comfort zone.
Strong-willed, mercurial painter Marta Strauss-McClaron has always had her moods. One day something moves her to leave her husband, Paul McClaron, a cryptic note—“Enjoy your new baby and your new life”—and vanish. Her ruined bicycle is found on a bridge popular with suicides, but there’s no trace of her body, even though Paul immediately takes a kayak out on the river below to search for it, accompanied by suspicious Detective Martin Ahlstrom of the Portland Police Department. It’s only the first step in a winding road that leads by stages to the Red Rock Gallery in Meteor, Arizona. Along the way, Paul’s new assistant, Rue, will attach herself to him as a New-Age therapist. They’ll be dogged, and sometimes joined, by Ahlstrom, who’s convinced that Marta scammed the Northern California Insurance Corporation out of $5 million; Owl, a menacing gay Blackfoot who’s certain that Marta scammed the Four Winds Casino out of precisely the same amount; and Henry and Alice of Meteor’s Mom ’n Pop Cafe, who don’t intend to be shut out of the action just because their coffee isn’t up to Portland standards.
The mystery, which involves rumors of forgery and fraud along with the widespread assumption that Marta faked her own death, is as thin as it is broad and genial. But Paul is just as endearing as the unwilling detective hero who anchored Josh Whoever (2013), Guillebeau’s bright debut.