When Catherine - the "simple, honest wife" wealthy Ralph advertised for - steps off the train we already know she's not what she appears. Ralph realizes also in that instant, but he's not about to cause an embarrassing scandal right there on the depot's platform in front of all these townspeople who work for him. So the couple hurtles off into the blizzard with a promise they'll sort this out in the privacy of Ralph's house. What happens next changes the whole trajectory of their plans.
It's not a typical murder-mystery, but rather a novel of literary suspense. The story is told in alternating perspectives, so the reader knows there's much more going on inside these characters' heads than their actions suggest - it's a very 1900's Wisconsin thing: stoic on the outside and a-boil in the heart or the head (around here, many had grandparents like this).
Our book club selected this title, but I've already missed that discussion ... and it certainly could have been a real barn-burner. (Apparently, they talked about the writing?!?) I joke because fairly often during this book, I thought, "Wow, with all the sex - that could have been a heck of a discussion!" But I may have noticed it more because I was listening to the audiobook in the car - it's always hilarious when somebody else gets in the car and you get caught in the middle of a florid sex scene!
I enjoyed the book, but I did think it sometimes moved glacially. Apparently some of the book club readers thought the writing was clunky - but I perceived that as indicative of repressed or stilted characters rather than ungainly writing. And that may be thanks to the audiobook narration by Mark Feuerstein.