An archaeologist trying to clear his brother-in-law’s name is distracted by the possibility of treasure.
Now that archaeologist Chuck Bender is married to Janelle, his primary job should be taking care of her and her two young daughters. But he can’t resist the opportunity to lead a field school in the Rockies. Chuck brings his family to stay on-site, and most of the summer passes without incident, with even the college kids seeming to behave themselves. When a mysterious pool of blood is found near the cabins, Janelle’s brother, Clarence, is implicated in the incident. Chuck’s not worried, though; no body means no problem, and he figures that it’s some sort of animal issue and goes on with his work. Besides, the dig the teams are working on gets interesting when they stumble on an abandoned mine filled with a mysterious substance resembling coffee grounds. Even Chuck isn’t sure what to make of it, so he consults a local librarian to try to learn more. Apparently there’s a mystery surrounding something called The Cassandra Treasure, though what or where it is aren’t clear. Chuck wants to know more but is stuck trying to keep Clarence from getting into deeper trouble. Apparently the college kids are behaving more like college kids than Chuck had thought, and incorrigible Clarence just can’t stay away from the drama or the girls. A twist with a local wildlife poacher makes it unclear what motivations underlie the mystery.
Graham’s clever tale is tailor-made for those who prefer their mysteries under blue skies, though it’s a bit more gruesome, with less sympathetic characters, than the works of Nevada Barr or C.J. Box.