Author Pickard (see above) has adopted widowed, wealthy Eugenia Potter, heroine of stories by the late Virginia Rich (The Nantucket Diet Murders, 1985, etc.), and, working from Rich's notes, comes up with an intriguing adventure set in Arizona, where Mrs. Potter owns a ranch. This time out, she's summoned there from her Maine cottage by Ricardo Ortega—her longtime, patrician ranch- manager who's called a meeting of ranch-owners in the area for reasons he won't explain on the phone. But by the time Eugenia arrives, Ricardo is dead; his granddaughter Linda, fiancÇe of Ricardo's assistant Ken Ryerson, is missing; neighboring ranchers are scouring the mountain area for Linda; and, within days, aged ranch-hand Bandy and the Mexican illegals he's sheltering are found poisoned. In the midst of all this appears Mrs. Potter's college heartthrob Jed White, unheard from for the past 40 years, still handsome and eligible. Despite the distraction, it's Mrs. Potter who follows up clues, puts together the motive behind it all, fends off a murderous attack, finds the missing girl, and gives the reader method and recipe for a great-sounding chile besides! Quite a woman, and the scenic background doesn't hurt. Nice going for Pickard.
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