Set in a small town in the Catskill Mountains of New York State on the eve of WWII, Catskill assembles a multicultural cast to create and to solve a mystery. Why do three young men fire rifles into a dilapidated farmhouse packed with immigrant Jewish families taking a respite from the city? Why is a local woman inside the house at the time –and why is she dead? Why does Martin Collins, a major landowner and former politician in the Tammany machine, take an interest in the case? What does sheriff’s deputy Potter Washington know about the crime?
Hayes weaves these seemingly disparate characters and their motives into a compelling story. Dialogue is vivid; characters are lifelike, if briefly sketched. Very short chapters keep the story moving at a fast pace. The twists and turns of the case kept me guessing almost to the end, because while several strands are unraveled, more than one secret is revealed. One weakness of the book, however, is that so many characters are introduced that the reader has difficulty identifying with any of them.