A thrift-store bargain turns sinister for Washington State soapmaker Sophie Mae Ambrose and her police-detective husband Barr.
After Barr picks up some used mini-cassettes for his recorder, their housemate’s teenaged daughter Erin, whose bump of curiosity leads her to listen to the tapes, finds that they contain a therapist’s notes indicating that one of her clients may be planning a murder. Barr, already knee-deep in a difficult case in Cadyville, has no time to follow up the clue, but Sophie Mae, who’s had success before as an amateur sleuth (Something Borrowed, Something Bleu, 2010, etc.), dives in despite Barr’s stern warnings. Although the therapist isn’t available to confirm the import of the discovery because she’s died young of a massive heart attack, the tapes identify the possible target as a member of the Swenson family. That wealthy clan is involved in Grendel Meadery, a company that makes and exports various types of honey-based mead. Both the family and the company are headed by tough-minded Dorothy, who rules her four grandchildren with an iron hand. When Dorothy’s grandson Quentin dies of a massive heart attack, the police take notice, but it’s still up to Sophie Mae to figure out who hates the Swenson family enough to kill.
McRae’s series has covered a wide range of craft projects. Her latest offers a tutorial on mead and a dash of soapmaking, all wrapped around a credible mystery.