The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry, is a story woven like Massachusetts Ipswich lace, it is intricate, complicated, and its imperfections and uneven texture make it extremely suspenseful and sometimes maddening. The story revolves around Towner Whitney, a 32 year member of an old, quirky New England family, who works as a script reader in California. She is summoned back to her hometown of Salem on the occasion of the disappearance of her favorite relative, Eva. The old woman runs a tearoom out of her house near the Salem Commons, and is expert at reading lace, a method of fortune-telling. When Towner returns, the police discover Eva's drowned body, and after the funeral she finds that she has inherited Eva's estate. While she decides how to cope with her new responsiblities, she starts spending time with local police detective Rafferty, who has been investigating Eva's drowning. Cal, black sheep of the Whitney family and former spousal abuser, has "found God" and has become an evangelist preacher, and leader of a congregation of misfits and ex-drug addicts. When one of Cal's congregants goes missing, Rafferty suspects that Cal and his followers were involved. While investigating both of the crimes, Rafferty delves into Towner's history of psychic events, hallucinations, and her stay in a mental hospital. The return of Towner Whitney to Salem begins the process of truth, healing, and peace, that Eva's death set in motion.