Byron Oglethorpe has been swept into a corner by his career moves. Once a novelist with high hopes for critical success he is now house-sitting for Russian academics on an island off of Cape Cod, barely subsisting on a daily ration of one layer in a two-layer tin of sardines. Here he is tracked down by Travis Burton, the publisher of one of his two novels and six other books for hire.
Despite the death of the subject of his last book for Burton (“the murdered man had been a motivational speaker and an Arab, attributes that could have been fatal for a variety of reasons”). and disdain for the older man’s dissolute way of life, the cautious Oglethorpe agrees to do another biography for the Burton and Hall imprint—this time of the great monumental minimalist Wally Wilkes, who has not returned for months from a spelunking expedition near his property in France. His widow, his daughter and two of her friends are continuing to manage the Wilkes Inn in his absence: a sprawling resort in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range in California, where they maintain, in addition, a sculpture garden which displays the great man’s major works.
The Inn is presently being expanded using hemp-lime building material by a more than six-foot builder by the name of Eleanor Auchincloss, who quickly becomes the reason Byron is glad to have taken Burton’s assignment. (Though Oglethorpe is six foot six , Ellie is fifty pounds heavier; at a meager hundred and twenty pounds, finding a suitable partner has been hard for Byron.)
Though the women running the Wilkes Inn are honest and well-intentioned, behind their backs, while Wilkes was alive, there was a brisk trade in THC-containing cannabis. As the inn’s new night man Byron’s stock goes even higher with the women when, by his courage and cleverness, he averts a murderous attack by one of the cartels Oglethorpe’s friendship with Burton never wavers though their financial circumstances are now reversed, as Oglethorpe is about to become the world’s wealthiest night auditor.
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