The Sketch Box is a murder mystery set in the fascinating backdrop of a colony of independent women artists who found their creative voices painting in Carmel-by-the-Sea in the 1920s. The story also unfolds within the culture of racial injustice suffered by the Japanese immigrants—fishermen and abalone divers who made their living on the shores of the same dangerously but beautiful Pacific coast as the Rum Runners sailed the international waters carrying Canadian whisky to Monterey and other coastal towns during the Prohibition era.

It’s July, 1924, and Sarah Cunningham is preparing for her first solo art show in Paris, when she receives the news of her sister Ada’s death, an ocean away in Carmel, California. Sarah travels nearly two weeks to be at the inquest, only to find that the death has been ruled a suicide by the local Marshal. Ada was headstrong, erratic, passionate, and cruel—but she was also loving and kind and at the very top of her painting career, her seascapes selling as enthusiastically as they were painted. And she was about to exhibit her next great work: a series of portraits that would bring her even wider recognition. Sarah knows her sister did not kill herself.

Through getting to know Ada’s friends, her assistant, her former landlady, and her art dealer, Sarah begins to piece together what happened in the days leading up to her sister’s death. From the posh Del Monte Hotel to the windswept sands of Carmel Beach to Robinson Jeffers’ Tor House, Whalers Cove at Point Lobos, and beyond, Sarah learns how many secrets sisters can keep from each other and how far a killer will go to keep her from knowing the truth.