A retired police chief still has a nose for crime.
When an injury forced Hank McCall to retire, he sank his savings into Well Played, a vintage toy and game shop in East Aurora, New York. His daughter, Liz, who lives with him over the shop, helps run it along with other family members. Soon after a nameless man brings in some antique toys to be appraised, his body is found in the shop, killed by a lawn dart. Unfortunately, a blow to the head has left Hank, who was present at the time, with no recollection of what happened, so new police chief Ken Young has to consider him a suspect. Hank and Liz start sleuthing in an attempt to find the real killer even though Hank can’t be certain that he’s innocent. The dead man, a home health aid separated from his wife and eight children, was very religious and apparently trustworthy, but the vintage toys he wanted appraised seem to have been stolen from one of his clients, Sy DuPont, a grouchy old man whose family was squabbling over his possessions even before his recent death. It’s a major shock to them to find that the very young woman he recently married is interested in his house only because she thinks it’s haunted. Both the new chief and Liz’s old boyfriend Jack Wallace take a romantic interest in Liz—but Jack, a nephew of Sy DuPont, is interested in the case as well. Armed with gossip and inside information from Hank’s old friends and years of information collected by Sy’s next-door neighbors, a pair of snoopy spinsters, Liz begins to build a list of suspects in the hope of clearing her dad’s name.
This well-turned mystery, first in a new cozy series, is filled with interesting characters, old-fashioned gaming lore, and a million puns.