A successful young minister, Paul Brearley, part owner of Osprey Island, has spent all of his summers there, seemingly a handsome, athletic, happy person with a beautiful wife and son. But in 1990, he disappears, and is presumed drowned, though some people have their doubts.
In 2008, Brearley’s body, not yet identified, is found in a campground on nearby Burton Island, shot dead, propped up against the wall of a lean-to, as if resting from a long walk. Who shot him? What has he been doing for 18 years?
Fred Davis is the detective in charge. He grew up on a South Hero farm and knows the lake as well as anyone. As the investigation develops, Fred becomes fascinated with the little community on Osprey Island. He thinks the killing might be tied to Paul’s disappearance. But he slowly learns that the origin goes back further, to a day in 1972, when Fred and a friend were sailing a little homemade boat just outside the Inland Sea, and a boy named Skip Tyler, driving his speedboat too fast, crashes into them, nearly sinking the little sailboat. Skip blithely drives off, unconcerned. This crash sets in motion seemingly small events, which lead to Paul’s murder 36 years later.