Baker has strung together not only dolls but also a sharp and entertaining mystery.
Writing in true “whodunnit” fashion, she keeps us guessing right up to the end. Even readers with no expertise in doll collecting will still be drawn into this story of intrigue that explains the lucrative and very serious business of a collector.
The story revolves around Gretchen, her mother, Caroline, and her Aunt
Nina. Gretchen, recently unemployed, has been in a stalled relationship for seven years. Her mother, repairs dolls and has an expansive collection, and the utterly quirky and harmless Aunt Nina trains “purse dogs” and professes to be psychic.
Caroline leaves town shortly after Martha Williams’ body is discovered at the bottom of Camelback Mountain. A note is found in the hand of the dead woman
reading “Caroline Birch. Put her away.” An expensive doll’s parasol is also found on
Martha’s body. Martha had once been a collector, but after losing her house to
the bank and her husband to death, she became homeless, living on the streets and drinking heavily.
Aunt Nina calls Gretchen to lend aid in the search for her mother, now a prime suspect
in Martha’s murder. Two hikers identified Caroline as leaving the murder scene;
Aunt Nina and Gretchen are both convinced that Caroline is innocent, but it nags at them that she left town so abruptly without contacting either one of them, her closest family members. Caroline has covered her tracks well by purchasing
airplane tickets and food with cash. There is no paper trail to be followed by police.
As the story progresses, we begin to ask questions ourselves. Why would anyone murder
a homeless person? Why did Caroline leave town without word to her family? Where
did Caroline go, and why? These and other questions will be answered in due time as we are captivated by all of the pieces becoming intertwined, to reveal a startling conclusion.