The 21st appearance for Virginia blacksmith Meg Langslow (Die Like an Eagle, 2016, etc.) finds her battling vandals, murderers, quarreling family members, and variously hotheaded locals—in other words, business as usual, though this time with more than a little of the edge taken off.
Biscuit Mountain Craft Center seemed like such a great idea when Meg’s grandmother Cordelia Blake opened it that it’s hard to imagine anyone who’d take objection to its mix of artists, crafters, eager students, and idlers like the Slacker, whose constant shifting from one workshop to another causes comment without consternation. But a rash of vandalism, from slug-infested potter’s clay to rain-damaged watercolors to ball bearings scattered over the dance studio’s floor to obscene and sexually suggestive material in two media, says otherwise. Looking to contain the damage before negative publicity closes the center, Meg’s grandfather Monty Blake announces that greedy developers who have their eye on Biscuit Mountain have launched a personal vendetta against him. Or the malefactor might be Calvin Whiffletree, whose Jazz Hands Art Academy Cordelia had studied closely, both to copy some of its practices and to avoid others, before opening her rival operation. Before Meg can follow up any of these possibilities, the pranks take a lethal turn when arrogant painting instructor Edward Prine, whose studio has already suffered one round of vandalism, is fatally attacked. Riverton police chief Mo Heedles, hearing of Monty’s impassioned argument with Prine over the subject of one of his paintings, which looks just like an extinct Ord’s gull, anoints him her chief suspect. But why would Meg’s grandfather, a dedicated bird-watcher, have killed the only person who might have led him to the location of the impossible bird?
An unusually traditional whodunit for the rowdy heroine and her cohort, and one whose biggest disappointment is the near-invisibility of the party whodunit.