An artist’s wife investigates a decades-old murder, and turns to a dangerous cult for answers
It’s the summer of 1976, and artist Gus Ridley is entertaining bohemian friends at his country home in Grays Orchard, capturing the group in luminous portraits. The season of free-spirited love and creativity ends abruptly when one of the group is murdered. Everyone assumes an outsider was responsible, but the case is never solved. Twenty years on, Gus never mentions the incident to his younger wife, Carol. He is withdrawn, and paints only abstracts and still lifes, never portraits. When his Australian niece—who was conceived that very summer—visits, the mystery comes back to life. Carol decides to go in search of the truth, a journey that leads her to the Heirs of Akasha, a cult that yields increasingly disturbing clues about the death, as well as of her husband’s past.