At some point, I decided that the heroine of As She Left It just got herself involved in trying to solve too many mysteries. So, I didn’t find this novel quite as good as I have McPherson’s others. Also, there is at least one whopping big coincidence.
Opal Jones has moved back to the house in Leeds where she grew up. Her mother recently died, and she then learned that the house was in her own name. Since her life is in some disarray, she decides to move back.
Opal hasn’t been to Leeds for 10 years, since she was 13. She also hasn’t been in touch with her alcoholic mother. She has been totally unaware that 10 years before, a little toddler, Craig, whom she used to babysit, disappeared when he was under the care of his grandparents, Dennis and Margaret. Through a series of misunderstandings, each of his grandparents thought the other was looking after him. Opal decides to try to find Craig.
Some other neighbors in her street are old men, members of a jazz band with whom Opal used to play the trumpet. One of the old men, Fishbo, says he hasn’t been in touch with his family in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. Opal decides to try to find Fishbo’s family, despite warnings from his friends.
Opal also finds a puzzle in the posts of part of her bed. Needing something to sleep on, she has bought a magnificent bed for a very low price, not realizing until she got it home that the headboard and footboard are mismatched. In the posts of half the bed, she finds messages of distress, but she needs the other half of the bed to see the entire message. In trying to find the other half, she meets Norah, a little old lady suffering from dementia living in a house full of antiques. Soon she believes that someone is looting Norah’s house of its valuable furniture.
Having embroiled herself in these mysteries, Opal begins receiving threats, but she doesn’t know how the threats are connected with the mysteries. There is also the mystery of the person next door, whom she hears crying at night. Since she can’t believe her neighbors would have taken Craig, she wonders if his kidnapper has moved in next store. But then, all of her neighbors seem to be hiding something.
Although I liked Opal and was interested in the story, there just seemed to be too many threads to the plot. Overall, I think, it limited the possible suspense of the novel. The coincidence, too, of what happened to the other half of the bed is pretty unbelievable. But a lot of the puzzles are noise, to keep Opal from facing her past.