A trio of nursing home residents, convinced that the rash of injuries among their cohort is no coincidence, decides to take matters into their own hands.
All is not well at the Orchard Hills Nursing Home. Someone has given Mrs. Arnold a bruised arm and Mr. Partlow a black eye. Arnie Peters’ Seeing eye dog, Bruno, is dead. So is newcomer Bill Whitley’s cat, Toby, for whom he’d paid the nursing home a $5000 premium. When they talk about these traumas, retired accountant Marvin Bradley, 87, and Mike Charles, 85, a man with a past he doesn’t talk about, agree that the most likely perp is maintenance man Leroy Parker, who’s very likely in league with Orchard Hills director Oliver Bates. Marvin, whose main qualification for the position of amateur sleuth is that he’s among the higher-functioning residents, enlists his grandson Freddie to hack into the Orchard Hills computer, discovers that Ollie Bates has plans to sell the place and use the land for an amusement park, and talks to elderly wife-killer Willie Hunt, who was beaten in prison when Leroy worked there. At length, he confronts Leroy, who meets his accusations with threats of violence. And then resident Bonnie Meade is found dead shortly after her Debussy recital. None of this is remotely surprising. The one unexpected development leaves Freddie under arrest for murder and turns Marvin, Mike and their friend Carrie Fenway, a diabetic amputee, into advocates gathering evidence for Freddie’s innocence instead of Leroy’s guilt.
Stevens’ debut novel is short on circumstantial detail—the world outside Orchard Hills is as blank as Nancy Drew’s River Heights—and long on geezer charm. His geezers are charming enough, though less funny than they think they are.