An unspoiled Maine island, a possible future home to a major resort, is presently hosting a murder.
Natalie Barnes has invested her life savings in the Gray Whale Inn, a bed-and-breakfast on Cranberry Island. Her guest Bernard Katz is a developer whose plans for the island would turn the Inn into a parking lot and destroy a large nesting ground for terns. The islanders are split between those hungry for growth and others who advocate preservation. When the selectmen meet, a staunch ally of Natalie’s preservationist group suddenly changes her vote, and development seems a sure bet until Natalie discovers Katz’s body, fallen or pushed from a cliff. John Quinton, the local deputy and Natalie’s love interest, calls in the state police, who put Natalie first on the list of suspects. To clear her name, she starts to snoop around and soon turns up other factions who might have wanted Bernard dead, including Katz’s son; his wife Estelle, who has a strangely inappropriate relationship with her father-in-law; and several anti-development activists. Baiting her trap with goodies from her kitchen, she roves the island asking questions. After the customary brushes with death, her research and a little help from her friends put both the killer and the resort plans to rest.
MacInerney’s debut is an agreeable entry into the crowded field of culinary cozies, complete with the obligatory complement of artery-clogging recipes.