For a small town nestled in the Cascade Mountains' foothills, picturesque Alpine provides more than enough headlines to fill the pages of editor and publisher Emma Lord's Alpine Advocate. The Labor Day edition's lead story features controversial timber baron Jack Blackwell's scheme to become Skykomish county manager, but the recent strangling deaths of two young women are all anyone can talk about. After a third body is found, Emma's husband, Sheriff Milo Dodge, suspects there's a serial killer in their midst. The latest victim is the sister of a dashing newcomer rumored to be working for Blackwell. Black Jack, as he's known to his non-admirers, has a long-standing rivalry with Milo. To discover if there's any connection between the mogul and the murders, Emma recruits the Advocate's receptionist, Alison Lindahl, to do a little digging. But when the investigation puts Alison into the line of fire, Emma worries that her career will be over before it even begins.