A discarded wife seeks solace on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Rosalie Hart has wonderful childhood memories of playing outdoors at her late aunt Charlotte Gardner’s sprawling house on the banks of the Cardigan River. So when her husband, Ed, rocks her world by abruptly telling her he’s in love with someone younger, thinner, and blonder, it makes a crazy kind of sense for Rosalie to hole up at Barclay Meadows to lick her wounds. Her daughter, Annie, in her first year at Duke, understands, although she wishes her mom would come back to Chevy Chase at least for Thanksgiving and Christmas so that Annie wouldn’t have to spend the holidays torn between loyalty to her mother and the town she still thinks of as her home. But Rosalie digs in. She renews her aunt’s agreement to allow Tyler Wells to farm some of the acreage at Barclay Meadows. She even enrolls in a writing course at nearby John Adams College, forming a tight bond with several classmates. But life deals Rosalie a second sucker punch when she finds the body of Megan Johnston floating in the Cardigan outside her door. The John Adams senior’s death is ruled accidental, but Rosalie disagrees, putting her on the wrong side of Sheriff Joe Wilgus and college president David Carmichael. Her writing buddies back her, and with Sue’s help, they start a website devoted to solving the case. Rosalie’s affection for the peaceful beauty of rural Maryland grows, along with her skill at navigating social media. But her pursuit of Megan’s killer threatens that peace and the safety of everyone around her.
Sadly, attaching a murder mystery to what otherwise would have been a touching tale of a woman’s adjustment to single life makes Eckel’s debut novel muddier than the Chesapeake.