Every small town has an eccentric or two, and Killdeer, New York, is no exception. Morgan Mason attracts more than a few stares and local resentments when he drives through town on his tractor wearing a skirt. But minor small-town annoyances become more serious when the Skirt Man is killed in a tragic house fire in what some say is a case of spontaneous human combustion.
"Great Gift, a Pigmy Goat!"
Arson investigator Billy Nightingale and his brother-in-law, Officer Sebastian Bly, are called in to investigate a house fire that killed two young children. The discovery of a baby hiding underneath the porch put Billy and Sebastian on the trail of a murderous mother while Sebastian and his wife, Annie, raise baby Meredith without revealing her dangerous and frightening past.
When Artemus Ackerman, retired magician and mayor of Calendar, hears about the first fire on Sabbath Street, he sends his publicist, Maggie Wakeling, to the fire department to find out what caused it. Artemus, who still performs conjuring tricks for his constituents, has his heart set on turning the shabbily elegant Baldwin Theater into a museum of magic. All he has to do is convince wealthy widow Claudette Goodwin to donate the Baldwin to his beloved town. But the theater is located on Sabbath Street, where that first disastrous fire occurred....
Panache, an exuberant road gypsy, is on her way to the mountains. Benjamin Pencil, the man with the glass heart, has no use for mountains. But their paths cross, their lives intertwine, and Benjamin follows her up, up, up to where hills are smothered in poppies and a man can reach out and write his name in the sky. As they travel, they first encounter the beautiful but predatory Woman with the Breeding, a collector of hearts who tries to add Benjamin’s exquisite heart to her pitiable hoard. Next they meet the malicious Laughing Man, who lives only to create fear and kill dreams.
In the entire canon of tough-girl sleuths, gumshoes, PIs, detectives, and investigators, there's no one quite like Fritillary Quilter. A New York arson investigator, a sassy, fresh spirit with a nose for arson and an eye for dubious burn patterns, "Tilly" pushes the envelope of the traditional female investigator with a young, hip outlook and indefatigable zeal.
Cable-TV mogul Stanfield Standish wrote the book and broke the rules in the news and entertainment industry. When his charred body is found inside the burnt-out remains of his classic 1930 Duesenberg sedan, his family files a $52-million damage suit. They blame the fatal "accident" on Courtland Motor Company, the firm that restored the antique. That's when Courtland's attorney, Max Bramble - suspicious, sharp, and inquisitive - takes over.