For many mystery readers, Alpine, WashingtonMary Daheims fictional small town in the foothills of the Cascade Mountainshas become a beloved second home, a delicious retreat from the stresses of life. Yet the editor of The Alpine Advocate, Emma Lord, knows all too well that the picturesque old logging town is loaded with scandal: family feuds, illicit romance, chicanery, and sometimes deadly violence.THE ALPINE RECLUSEIn the middle of a hot midsummer night, Emma is awakened by fire trucks rushing to a blaze at the nearby home of newlyweds Tim and Tiffany Rafferty. At daybreak, Tiffany and her unborn child are safe, but Tim, never blessed with good luck in all his thirty-plus years, has perished in the fierce conflagration. Sheriff Milo Dodge suspects murder and arson, and rumors fly from the Burger Barn and Mugs Ahoy to the Grocery Basket and the Venison Inn. Some swear the Rafferty marriage was crumbling. Others hint at stock fraud. A few mention momentary sightings of a possibly mad recluse known as Old Nick.Sacrificing the heady enticements of a budding romance to nail down a great story, Emma shifts into high investigative gear while her fearless House & Home editor, Vida Runkel, rushes in where angels fear to tread: straight into the private lives of some of Alpines most respectableand now terminally edgycitizens. But neither Emma nor Vida suspects the unbelievable truth.From the Hardcover edition.