At the end of their last case (chronicled in Beastly Bones), Jackaby and Rook come home to find that their ghostly landlady has decided to hire them. Jenny Cavanaugh was murdered in her home 10 years ago, the home which Jackaby now uses as his base of operations. But before they can even properly decide where to begin searching for clues, a murder remarkably like Jenny's occurs. When they approach the chief of police and the mayor about those similarities, they find that several other people are either dead or missing. The fact that all these new victims were involved in the mayor's project to update the the city is a coincidence that is hard to ignore; Jenny's fiancee was also involved in a project for the previous mayor. What exactly is going on? And is the creepy, pale-faced man that Abigail has seen around town somehow involved? After all, his photo is in Jenny's case file.
Ritter has set up another great case for our detectives to pursue. The ties to Jenny's murder lend the case a personal meaning, although we know that Jackaby would have investigated anyway. Rook continues to become more familiar with Jackaby and his odd way of doing things, while also using her own keen skills of observation and society manners. While her boss goes on about auras and energies, Abigail notices that there are diapers and wooden blocks in the house of a couple who do not have children. She picks up on cues in conversations that he misses, such as the reference to benefactors that have supported the mayor's project. When she describes a person of interest in the case, the mayor says, "It's certainly a start, Miss Rook. You should lead with her next time, Jackaby. She's better at this than you are." He means she's better at sharing facts and descriptions that other people can understand, rather than saying a suspect has "an anathematic aura with distinctly lavender accents."
Since this is only a Sneak Peek, and since I wouldn't want to spoil any of the surprises, I'll leave you to ponder Jackaby's statement that "Questions are good... Questions are to the clever mind as coal is to the stoker." We all have plenty of unanswered questions as we await this third installment in the series.
I read the Sneak Preview offered by the publisher through NetGalley.