An East Tennessee sheriff wonders if his county is becoming the murder capital of the state.
Life is good for Sheriff Tony Abernathy, his wife, Theo, their twin baby girls and Theo’s quilt shop. In the run-up to the Fourth of July, Silersville has been spared all but run-of-the-mill crimes until a man is found dead in a tree. From that point on, the sheriff’s problems multiply. A second man is attacked and almost killed while showering. Soon afterward, there’s still another attack, apparently by a complete stranger. But Tony’s most baffling case is the murder of Candy Tibbles, who’s addicted to drugs and men. Candy’s son Alvin, who’s emancipated from his mother, lives with Tony’s aunt, does yard work and is fascinated by botany. Tony soon discovers that Candy had been collecting hush money for years from a large number of men, any of whom could be Alvin’s father. Candy keeps a locked mailbox stuffed with envelopes filled with varying amounts of money and marked with code names. Alvin tells Tony his mother loved spy games and had a small pink book with the keys to her codes, but it’s nowhere to be found. All the men Candy slept with provide such an abundance of suspects that figuring out who did her in may not be easy.
Graham (Murder By Vegetable, 2012, etc.) again includes instructions for a mystery quilt, but her latest outing, despite obligatory appearances by the usual group of oddballs, is so slow reaching a conclusion that readers may cease to care whodunit.