THE SKETCH BOX is an historical mystery set in a colony of independent women artists who found their creative voices painting on the shores of Carmel-by-the-Sea in the 1920s. Their story 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 dangerous, but beautiful Pacific—and the renegade culture of the Rum Runners who sailed the international waters carrying Canadian whisky to Carmel and other coastal towns during Prohibition.
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 joyous and kind and at the very top of her painting career, her seascapes selling as soon as they were painted. And she was about to exhibit her greatest work: a series of portraits that would bring her even wider recognition. Why would she 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 the poet Robinson Jeffers’ Tor House, to Point Lobos, Sarah learns the secrets sisters can keep from each other and how far a killer will go to keep her from knowing the truth.