Fortyish photographer Claire Breslinsky (Foxglove, 1992, etc.) lives in Queens with hard-drinking, underemployed husband Johnnie and two children. Her elderly friend and neighbor is Iris von Lillienfeld, a long-ago refugee from Nazi Germany. Claire had lived in Munich for ten years when she was actively pursuing her career and is delighted to be invited to be matron of honor at the wedding, near Munich, of her German friend Isolde and Claire's onetime lover, Dr. Blacky von Osterwald. The two are to be married at Saint Hildegard's Mill, an inn with bittersweet memories for Iris, who escaped the Nazis with help from then owner Adam von Grunwald. He became her lover, and hid for her a cache of diamonds- -for which she never returned. Adam has long since died, and the Mill is now run by his son Hans, a widower with grown children, with help from ancient cook Evangelika and frosty manager Fraulein Wintner. Also resident are filmmaker Temple Fortune and his effeminate English aide Puffin Hedges. In short order Claire is swept up by an overwhelming attraction to Fortune, and Hans dies in a fall that may not be accidental. The wedding takes place, followed by a second questionable death that brings about the revelation of secrets hidden for decades, the unmasking of a killer, and, for Claire, a mission fulfilled. Here, mystery and suspense, heavily contrived and crammed into the closing chapters, take a backseat to Claire's obsession with Fortune and the interplay among her moneyed, narcissistic friends. Claire, though poor, comes off as self-absorbed as any of them. A jumbled story with pretentious overtones.
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