A Canadian actress and an ambitious detective team up to solve a long-buried murder.
Bella James is delighted with her furnished rental cottage in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake until her beloved shaggy dog digs up human remains in the backyard. Unidentified bones were not part of Bella’s plan when she agreed to play the title role in Major Barbara in the popular Shaw Festival. It’s a huge part for her even though she knows she may be eclipsed by the far more famous stage actress Olivia Childries, who’s about to give her final performance in a 30-some-year career at the festival. But Bella is gracious because she’s honored to work with Olivia, who overcame a brutal attack and a marital disaster to start practically from scratch and rebuild her acting career. Bella, on the other hand, is better known for her role as a detective on a Montreal crime drama. That’s not the only reason DS Andre Jeffers gets permission to make her his unofficial partner when the bones from the yard turn out to have a startling connection to the stage family with whom Bella is working. Jeffers is hoping to advance in the Major Crimes division of the local Canadian police, and solving a decades-old case with a partner who has access to all the on- and offstage participants in the festival may give him the leg up he needs. Between attending rehearsals and indulging in wistful admiration for a handsome veterinarian, Bella risks her own safety when she helps Jeffers follow a cold trail of broken hearts, nosy neighbors, missing police files, a vicious rape, and a stolen identity in this pleasantly lightweight tale.
If a few implausibilities and a rather too obvious clue or two don’t bother you, you can still have a fine time in the company of the well-matched detecting duo in Koetting’s debut.