Baker (Tainted Mountain, 2013, etc.) presents the second adventure of a Western accountant who tries to build a new life after her marriage ends tragically.
Nora Abbott is fighting off panic on Colorado’s Mount Evans when she meets Petal, a woman who looks like an elf in dreadlocks and ragbag clothes. Petal not only helps Nora down the mountain, but also tells her that she’d be a natural to succeed the recently vanished financial director for Loving Earth Trust in Boulder. Although Nora has an MBA and good qualifications, the murder of her husband a year ago has left her shaken, full of self-doubt and prone to visions of a kachina—a Hopi spirit. When the trust’s executive director, a former classmate of Nora’s, offers her the position on the spot, she can’t believe her luck. On the second day of the new job, she realizes why she was hired: She’s supposed to give false projections to the trust’s board. Instead, she reveals that Loving Earth is operating in the red due to the beetle-kill project of Sylvia LaFever, Loving Earth’s hotshot scientist. When Nora’s missing predecessor turns up dead on the trust’s grounds, Sylvia is the first suspect, even though she tries to put the blame on Nora. While Nora tries to make sense of Sylvia’s project and the role of a father-and-son team from Ecuador, she has to keep haunting memories, her overbearing mother, and a handsome, overprotective rancher at arm’s length. A Hopi friend is receiving warnings from a man who supposedly died 150 years ago. Will they come too late to save Nora? No wonder the hapless heroine is so overwhelmed that she makes decisions she knows are bad: Baker throws her into a vortex of corporate greed, Hopi mythology, speculative science, exaggerated characters, muddled flashbacks and one preposterous incident after another.