It takes a sleuth with years of experience and loads of local connections to solve the murder of a very unpopular woman.
Poet and amateur sleuth Victoria Trumbull, who’s spent her entire 92 years on Martha’s Vineyard, has rented a room to Zack Zeller, a nice but rather dim young man. While they’re taking a nature walk together, she points out the rare black trumpets of death mushrooms, which, despite their name, are not poisonous. Zack is just one of many men and women who’ve been captivated by wealthy, attractive Samantha Eberhardt, whose vindictive father throws more money than love in her direction. When Zack tries to break up with her, she claims to be pregnant, and Zack plots to feed her some death trumpets, which he hopes will cause a miscarriage. No fool, Samantha tells her father that she thinks Zack is trying to poison her. He invites Zack to a dinner where the mushrooms are served, though not to Zack, who runs away. When Samantha’s found murdered, Zack is naturally the prime suspect, but he has more to fear from vengeful Mr. Eberhardt than the police. Victoria’s certain that Zack is innocent, but she already has her hands full with the case of a young local burned to death in a fire deliberately set at a disused old parsonage. As Victoria mines her sources for information, she finds that Samantha has taken many lovers and gotten many local young people hooked on drugs. Clearly, there’s a surfeit of possible killers to winnow before Victoria can solve the crimes.
Riggs’ pleasantly old-fashioned sleuth (Bloodroot, 2016, etc.) is still clever enough to come up with a surprising culprit in another graceful homage to the island both she and her author call home.