Things seem to be going smoothly for Joanna Stark; she is beginning to get over the fear that has haunted her since her near-fatal encounter (in There Hangs the Knife) with Antony Parducci, former lover, art forger, thief. But arriving home after lunch at her son's winery-to-be in their town of Sonoma, Joanna finds her house broken into and a painting—one of no value but of great significance to Joanna—has been stolen.
The painting has been taken, and other subtle clues left, she knows, on purpose in order to frighten her. She is convinced that Parducci, whom she had left for dead in England, has been there, has come to kill her.
Joanna is alone with her fear. Her stepson, E.J., convinced the man is certainly dead, will urge her to put him out of her mind; it's unhealthy, he's told her, to dwell on past fears. Moved to confide in a woman friend, Joanna is drawn into another mystery—the provenance and ownership of two very valuable paintings that no one had known about. Oddly, mysteries and anomalies begin to match, one with the other; and, like a giant spider, Parducci seems to be at the center of it all.
This final novel in Muller's three-part work about her interesting character, Joanna Stark, brings the strongly independent woman to a final confrontation with the man who hates her for betraying him, and provides an exciting climax both to the novel and the series.
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