At the beginning of Music to Die For, upon settling in for her vacation at the Ozark Folk Center, Carrie McCrite goes walking in the woods. Besides birds and spring wildflowers, she notices a faint, haunting melody. A few moments later, an eccentric old woman walks past, muttering, “The gowerow has taken the child.” Carrie puzzles over this but then shrugs and goes in to dinner. There, her friend Beth asks for her help in finding the star performers, country musicians Tracy Teal and her husband, Chase Mason, who have not yet appeared. Carrie goes out to look. Behind a door, she overhears the two stars talking with Chase’s mother, Brigid, about Tracy and Chase’s daughter Dulcey’s having been kidnapped. She introduces herself and takes them back to the banquet, where they perform. However, they leave immediately afterward.
Carrie follows, walking out into the craft shop area. There, she hears muffled gasps coming from the dressmaker’s shop. She opens the door and comes across Tracy, crying in the dark. When Carrie lights a candle, she sees the body of Farel Teal, Tracy’s cousin, on the floor. He has been stabbed in the chest, and a note is in his hand, mentioning a blue birdhouse and Dulcey.
Tracy and Chase do not want to call the police yet, for fear of prompting harm to their daughter. It strikes Carrie that both are acting a bit strangely, however, and she leaves to call the sheriff’s office about the body. Carrie wishes that Henry King, a retired Kansas City police detective, were there to offer help and advice. Since he is not, it falls to her to help the obviously shaken couple. She rides with them to Farel’s cabin. No one is there. As they leave, a figure dashes into the house. A moment later, the place goes up in flames. Tracy collapses, and Carrie tries to comfort her on the drive back to the park.
The next morning, Carrie pokes around the Folk Center grounds, soliciting background information on the Masons’ career and the local scene. At noon, much to her relief, Henry arrives. Carrie briefs him on the situation. Ruefully, they decide that sleuthing must take precedence over their original...
(The entire section is 883 words.)