When Lark and Jay Dodge move to Washington State’s Shoalwater Peninsula, life falls into a rhythm of house renovation and baby-making until Lark’s new neighbor, Bonnie, finds a corpse on the beach. The victim, an outspoken advocate of development, is the ex-wife of another neighbor, a novelist whose house burns in a mysterious fire when he refuses to sell. Circumstantial evidence makes him the prime suspect, but Lark isn’t convinced and neither is Bonnie. What they discover puts their lives in jeopardy.
An enthusiastic welcome back to Lark Dodge, the former bookstore owner, who, in her third appearance (after Skylark ), lives on the coast of Washington State with her husband Jay, who runs a police training program. Lark first meets Bonnie Bell, a neighbor recently moved from Santa Monica, Calif., after the aspiring writer finds a carpetbag of dead seagulls on her porch with a note saying, ``California Carpetbagger Go Home.'' Bonnie's next unwelcome discovery is a corpse on the beach. The victim, Cleo Cabot Hagan, had been working to bring a locally unpopular resort complex into the ecologically sensitive region. The day before she was killed, Cleo had visited another neighbor, her ex-husband, novelist Tom Linquist. After his house is firebombed, Tom stays with Lark and Jay. While Lark finds him friendly enough, she is worried that her new friend Bonnie is falling for a murder suspect. Sharp characterization--particularly of the marvelously wry Lark--and a mystery that is skillfully intertwined with Lark and Jay's life as they try to start a family grip the reader's interest up to a resolution that puts an intriguing twist on the standard sleuth-in-danger finale.