Small-town sheriff Tony Abernathy deals with murder, robbery and a kidnapping a lot closer to home than he’d like.
The theft of lawn ornaments isn’t a high-priority crime until one of the suspects, the mayor’s unpopular wife Queen Doreen, is found murdered at the work site of the new local history museum founded by Tony’s mother and aunt. Now Tony has a full plate: the thefts, a murder and a batch of anonymous letters and old newspaper clippings he’s received about a series of alleged murders stretching back 20 years. Eventually the sender meets him at a baseball park and reveals who killed these victims and where he can find the bodies. Unfortunately, Tony can’t get a search warrant on hearsay evidence. When Queen Doreen turns up alive and furious at her own funeral, Tony discovers that her wealthy father engendered an illegitimate daughter who was murdered instead of the mayor’s wife. Tony’s wife Theo, already busy with her family, her quilt shop and her occasional sleuthing, is getting strange visits from Vicky Parker, a high-school classmate nobody remembers with fondness. When Theo is kidnapped, Tony has to rescue his wife from a deranged killer, in addition to figuring out who killed Doreen’s double and stole those ornaments.
The most baffling puzzle Graham (Murder by Serpents, 2007) poses here is what the mystery quilt (instructions included) will look like. But her tale is peopled with amusing characters.