Torie O’Shea, the Missouri genealogist whose own family tree has three young buds, finds herself ground between past and future. New Kassel mayor Bill Castlereagh has bought the abandoned Yates house to tear it down and bring in riverboat gambling. Torie is protesting when a couple of developments halt the demolition much more efficiently. First the body of a former New Castle resident Patrick Ward is found in the Yates House; then the skeleton of an infant falls out of a wall. In 1938, the infant son of legendary New Kassel jazz singer Catherine Finch was kidnapped and never returned. Torie, who’s writing Finch’s biography and cataloguing her estate, next door to the Yates place, identifies the diaper pin found by the skeleton as twin to one in the Finch nursery, a room unchanged since1938. Patrick Ward, Torie discovers, was Catherine Finch’s nephew—and was present the night of the kidnapping over 60 years ago. Another cousin, also on hand that fateful night, is Hope Danvers, governor of Missouri and a supporter of riverboat gambling. When beloved elderly spinster Wilma Pershing, another associate of Catherine’s, passes away, Torie wonders whether the secrets of the infant’s disappearance were buried with her—or whether they’re just waiting for a wrecking ball, or an enterprising genealogist, to reveal them.
Nothing about Torie (A Misty Mourning, 2000) is buried very deep, but if you don’t mind sprightly chatter, harmless narcissism, and implausible plots, you won’t mind this little tale either.