By Stuart Whitehair (Hist, PolSci'84; JD'87)
(Independently published, 357 pages; 2021)
Life for Nelson Carpenter had taken a turn for the better. A retired banker living in the appropriately named Paradise Valley of southwest Montana, Nelson had lost his wife of 35 years to cancer, but was happy once again. Nelson was ready to propose to a former co-worker, Jayne Speaker, and had invited a number of guests to his ranch house overlooking the Yellowstone River to announce the engagement. The evening, however, goes from anticipated celebration to confusion to mystery. The engagement is never announced, with the guests leaving unclear as to why the engagement had been called off. Later that night, Nelson Carpenter dies, poisoned by one of his guests.
Assigned to handle the case are detectives Kyle Johnson and Cheryl Lin from the Park County Sheriff’s office. Cheryl, an Asian-American woman, is trying to make a name for herself in lily-white Montana. This is her first murder investigation, and Cheryl is determined to find the killer. The number of suspects is limited, but the case takes some unexpected twists.
Family intrigue, jealously, greed, and a budding teenage romance are all set against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful valleys in the nation, as Cheryl Lin discovers that the history of the Paradise Valley is an important to solving the mystery as the motives of the suspects.