Can success at amateur sleuthing lead to the sheriff’s office?
Antiques dealers Vivian Borne and her daughter, Brandy, have had a great deal of luck solving a long string of murders in Serenity, Iowa (Antiques Frame, 2017, etc.). A former actress and continuing diva, Vivian’s decided to run for county sheriff against Deputy Daryl Dugan now that the current sheriff is retiring. To stock her campaign chest, Brandy suggests holding a white elephant sale that draws on their expertise in finding good items. To that end they visit Sunny Meadow Manor, an assisted living and nursing home where many of the apartments are packed with items moved from much larger homes. Even Harriet Douglas, Deputy Dugan’s aunt, gives Vivian a lovely lamp as she asks for a copy of one of her books. Running back in to deliver the book, Brandy narrowly escapes death when Harriet’s apartment explodes, killing the older woman, perhaps because she was smoking despite her use of an oxygen tank. Vivian’s gossip network is soon aflutter with rumors about Sunny Meadow: too many people dying, drugs that don’t seem to work, and a general air of neglect. Never one to shirk an investigation, Vivian goes so far as to have bunion surgery so she can spend some time there undercover. Shortly after she gets a note asking her to meet an unknown informant in the garden, her wheelchair brakes fail, and she’s lucky to escape with minor bruising and the conviction that her snooping has hit a nerve.
Allan’s heroine seems a cinch to become sheriff despite her wild flights of fancy and her dangerous tactics in tracking down a killer with a well-hidden motive.