A not surprisingly neat recovery from the over-dense Star Flight (1993), by the empress of old-time cliff-edged suspense. Whitney guides the reader through a new setting (here Harpers Ferry, W.Va., of John Brown fame); and she crowds in enough domestic secrets (and two murders) to hogtie any family. Lacey Elliot, a successful illustrator, was raised by her mother, Amelia, in Virginia, never knowing who or where her father was. But when Amelia, ill after surgery, receives a frightened letter from her great-aunt Vinnie, Lacey goes in her mother's place to Harpers Ferry. There's a veritable explosion of family: Vinnie, the fierce great-grandmother who lives with strong-willed housekeeper Anne-Marie; Aunt Ardra, Amelia's sister; Lacey's half-sister, Carla, and her small son, Egan. Most impressive is the man all seem to fear -- Grandfather Daniel Griffin, a John Brown look-alike with a power beard and a commanding manner. Oh yes, there's drunken Uncle Henry, too, the brother of Lacey's father, Brad -- who for some years has been dead as a doornail. Brad, it seems, was the charming rogue who had an affair with Ardra while married to Amelia, thereby producing Carla. It was Daniel, father of Amelia and Ardra, who left town suspected of Brad's murder. On the very offshore island where Brad died, now Uncle Henry will buy the farm. But why is Old Vinnie's cane, found in her garden, covered with blood? While Lacey enjoys the help of nice teacher Ryan, there is a bevy of less-up talks with family members -- and a room in the old house haunted by memories of an old tragedy at the time of the Civil War. Whodunit? Veterans of the Whitney method might guess.