A series of threatening break-ins give a dead-end college professor new life as a deeply engaged amateur sleuth.
Paul Fischer dislikes his life. Teaching English at a small, nondescript college in Maine is several rungs down the ladder from Harvard, where he’d hoped to be at 37. His troubled marriage has finally collapsed. But when his home, office, and car are broken into, instead of being distraught, he’s galvanized. It’s obvious that someone wants to know everything he knows about Katie Baker and her sisters, those three enigmatic, difficult, remarkable women, all dead now, whose lives he so carefully researched for the book he planned to write. But who could this mysterious cat burglar be? And what long-buried secrets concerning the Bakers could have grown so dramatically in value? A phone call from Pamela Livingston persuades Paul to return to Jacksonville, Oregon, where the Bakers were once so powerful. Katie’s granddaughter Pam, who’s had break-ins of her own, half-seriously accuses Paul of being responsible—a measure of their complex love-hate relationship. In Jacksonville, Paul is challenged as seldom before. He has to identify, then cope with, a killer as clever as he is determined. In the process of tracking him down, Paul discovers some surprising things about himself, not least his unexpected selflessness.
Interesting characters, solid storytelling. Though clearly a sequel to Katie’s Will (not reviewed), this installment works well as a stand-alone, thanks to Mitcheltree’s solicitous attention to backstory detail.