|Sara Vance is a widow living in the family home left to her by her husband. She has returned to Tillman, the small rural town which is the “home of her heart.” She is now Mayor Vance filling her time with citizen complaints, budget issues, and city management. She is aware that Jesse Edwards, the chief of police, had procured the help of his cousin Dante Mangino, an employee of The Benning Agency, during the transition time of a manpower shortage.
Sara and Dante had met long ago, in fact more than met, and her staid father had chased him out of town. Sara is dreading the initial confrontation and the story opens as he rings the doorbell. He has been dispatched to her house because some of her green lingerie had been stolen from her clothesline. It is such a bizarre crime that the police are investigating. While he is there a box arrives, and it is a box containing lingerie. This is certainly not the crime of the year, but the town is small and the personalities have high profiles so the new lingerie is off to the lab.
Dante starts hanging around more or less, as he and Sara start “the fencing” that heralds the renewal of a relationship. Years have passed since their love affair and he has acquired even more baggage than he had as a teenager. The dialog is predictable being peculiar to the types of angst that he suffers, and things just drift along with little headway on any front until a murder.
The murder victim is a young, attractive girl married to a man who clearly loved her, and even initially he was not treated as a suspect. The wakeup call is that the husband tells Dante that she had had underwear stolen from her clothesline as well. Now Dante and the police take the implied threat to Sara far more seriously as he moves into her house and into her life to guard her, much to the disapproval of Opal, the housekeeper and cook.
Serious character development is focused mainly on Sara as Dante becomes a one dimensional man with a single song of sorrow…mourning a math teacher in his life he did not save. So he has become a man wanting no attachments, and no responsibilities in life, other than work related ones.
The development of the plot highlighting possible threat to Sara’s life is weak, and as it becomes more imminent, it becomes more manufactured. There is no foreshadowing of the identity of the ultimate wrongdoer, so the perpetrator appears seemingly out of nowhere with a play out that is contrived at best.