A writer’s vocation is a solitary one, as Rosa Subiaco has found. Under her pen name, Rosa Charrin, she is beloved by thousands of readers, who propel her historical romances to the heights of bestsellerdom. But in her home in Fort Elbow, Ohio, she hides her porcine body from the gaze of the world, living like a hermit. Well, almost. Every so often, she helps herself to a man, choosing from among her small acquaintances or snatching a stranger from the street. After she sates her voracious sexual appetite—then what? She dumps Hector, the psychic, into the Prune River. She returns Julius Sweeney to the West Toledo mall where she found him, confident that without his glasses, he could never identify her anyway. But Grandpa Yates turns out to be her favorite—not because he offers sexual gratification (far from it), but because his Alzheimer’s-induced tranquility brings her a sense of peace invaluable to her writing. So Grandpa’s a keeper, much to the delight of Aunt Edna Huff, who had dumped him at the mall after reading about Julius’s freak disappearance. But granddaughter Lucy Yates is distraught, and she and boyfriend Nick Byers, both aspiring writers, search frantically for him, enlisting the aid of down-at-heels shamus Norman Earwick. Earwick’s untimely demise forces them to call on Detective Manfredi (Still Life, 2000), of Fort Elbow’s finest, the only man who can solve the case.
A far cry from Father Dowling, but a tale of wheels within wheels with quirky pleasures all its own.