A fifty-year-old cold case involving California royalty comes back to lifeâ€”with potentially fatal consequencesâ€”in this gripping standalone novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series.
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A magnificent house, vast formal gardens, a golden family that shaped California, and a colorful past filled with now-famous artists: the Gardener Estate was a twentieth-century Eden.
And now, just as the Estate is preparing to move into a new future, restoration work on some of its art digs up a grim relic of the homeâ€™s past: a human skull, hidden away for decades.
Inspector Raquel Laing has her work cut out for her. Fifty years ago, the Estateâ€™s young heir, Rob Gardener, turned his palatial home into a counterculture commune of peace, love, and equality. But that was also a time when serial killers preyed on innocentsâ€”monsters like The Highwayman, whose case has just surged back into the public eye.
Could the skull belong to one of his victims?
To Raquelâ€”a woman who knows all about colorful pastsâ€”the bones clearly seem linked to The Highwayman. But as she dives into the Estateâ€™s archives to look for signs of his presence, what she unearths begins to take on a dark reality all of its own.
Everything she finds keeps bringing her back to Rob Gardener himself. While he might be a gray-haired recluse now, back then he was a troubled young Vietnam vet whose girlfriend vanished after a midsummer festival at the Estate.
But a lot of people seem to have disappeared from the Gardener Estate that summer when the commune mysteriously fell apart: a young woman, her child, and Robâ€™s brother, Fort.
The pressure is on, and Raquel needs to solve this caseâ€”before The Highwayman slips away, or another Gardener vanishes.