Cryptic Lessons, the seventh installment of The Beadle Files, opens with LC Beadle receiving a telephone call about a crime scene in South Fork where ominous words were written in blood on the wall of a barn. State and federal investigators are drawn to the site while being hampered by a nasty snowstorm.
The narrative takes meandering turns from South Fork to Buffalo to Chicago to Durango. Clyde and Patsy Lobato, ne'er-do-well con artists, continue their shameful shenanigans, much to the dismay of Josiah Grassley and company; Cynthia Sue Hopple is in her usual excitable state that comes complete with tirades and rambling commentary on happenings.
In Durango, Father Francis Lynch receives a visit from a mysterious woman who, for reasons unbeknownst to him rattles his sensibilities. Truth is, Sophia Jenkins possesses a secret that has the potential to turn his world upside down--it's a complicated situation that could create insurmountable problems. The priest perseveres forward, even as Jack Whistler threatens to employ blackmail tactics.
Meanwhile, in Buffalo, Mags Vitali and Eddy Olenski continue their partnership in shady endeavors. Near the end of the novel, Jack Whistler dispatches Cody Fralick to Buffalo with orders for him to connect with Magdalene Vitali and Eddy Olenski. Jack also informs him that he may be in Buffalo for a year or more.