With his simple statement, Jonah resurrects the question he has been asking himself since a child of six, watching the fire near his grandmother's farm and listening to the hateful remarks of locals. Did someone deliberately set the fire to rid the town of two old homosexuals? Elizabeth was the nearest neighbor and would have seen a mob entering. Without hesitation she assures Jonah, now a Chicago lawyer, that the fire was an accident.
When Elizabeth's mother-in-law finds out from her grandson, Eli, about Jonah's visit, she confronts Jonah and notifies an attorney. She can prove that Elizabeth committed four, not just two murders. This sets in motion an election-year trial against the daughter-in-law Olivia Daleiden always hated for living with her only son, Daniel, outside of marriage.
Eli drives to Chicago to lambast Jonah for setting off this investigation. Sparks fly between Jonah and Eli, though more than anger prompts the conflagration. Together, they will do all they can to save the family's farm and Elizabeth's life. Though circumstantial evidence would convict Elizabeth Daleiden, she and Violet, her lawyer, decide to let everyone tell their story in court. Then a sympathetic judge, allows the defendant to do the same. Eli and Jonah both learn the secrets of loving hearts.
Fritsch may have been born a natural mystery storyteller. He became a full-time author after retiring early as a public-interest lawyer. Tips and clues are carefully planted between sexual innuendos. He skillfully builds tension and suspense, key components of a mystery. Readers will appreciate the lengthy list of characters at the beginning of the novel as they keep track of who appears in court or on the sidelines. LGBTQ readers will respond to the love story. Surprising to the end, this 209-page mystery is a credit to the author.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review