Marsh returns home to Chaldea, a town of about 6,000 in the Midwest where he grew up. Sale of the family farm is up for discussion among the four siblings. Gail, his sister is married to Tom who is retired with a crippling disease; Curt is the family black sheep; and Matt is just married to his third wife, a real "looker". The Tanner acreage is sought after by several different groups: a coal company wants to pull out a seam of coal, the local Chamber wants to develop it, and the mineral rights are being sought by an oil company. The will that left the children the property, which until now has been rented out to a neighboring farmer, said any decision to sell had to be approved by three of the four so the lobbying among the siblings has begin in earnest, not to mention from local stalwarts who also want to influence their decision. Gail wants it to remain a farm for her daughter Karen and her husband Paul. But then Billy, Curt's son, is found hanging from a tree in the park, and apparent suicide. Marsh doesn't think so.
I really liked the evocative sense of place. Not to mention paragraphs like the following: I had taken advantage of a vulnerable time for Gail, and by springing my surprise I had forced her to act like something she was not -- a personification of Midwestern religiosity, the pseudo-piety that finds Biblequoting, teetotaling deacons ranting against niggers and hippies and bemoaning welfare and cheating the tax man all the while.
It's a mess. There's nothing worse than a family squabble about money. To my mind inheritance taxes should be 100%. Let children make their own way. (I am now officially hiding from my kids.) :)