Albert Romano is an avid hiker, bicyclist, and snow skier, but he should have avoided that last hike before winter. Several miles into the Desolation Wilderness above Lake Tahoe, Albert’s misstep caused a rock slide which trapped his left leg to the knee. He could not dig himself free nor could he bring himself to amputate his leg at the knee. He decided freezing to death would be less painful.
The first major winter storm made searching for Albert impossible, and animals ate him before Desolation hikers found his thawing leg the following spring.
Albert’s widow, Patti, identifies the tattooed leg and claims Albert’s million dollar life insurance money.
But Ed Logan, handling Patti’s claim, discovers Albert only bought the policy two months before he took his hike. And the Romanos’ shaky family finances would not have let them make a third premium payment.
Logan sends private investigator Dan Ballantine, medically retired cop, to Placerville to investigate. Ballantine learns Albert’s tattoo, like the life insurance policy, was fresh. And Albert, a National Guard sergeant, faced a third tour of duty, to Afghanistan, the following spring.
And what about the new passport and travel brochures found in Albert’s desk?
While Ballantine investigates, he finds a mutual attraction with Patti Romano. Though he has many questions, he hopes he can spend more time with Patti and the million dollars she will soon receive.