It isn’t bad enough that the fate of the Virginia State Fair is in doubt; now there’s fowl play at the alternative “statewide agricultural exposition” Meg Langslow and her daffy friends and relations have organized.
It’s no big deal that a pair of bantam Russia Orloff chickens have gone missing—unless of course you’re the Bonnevilles, the couple from whom they’ve been pinched (and whom everyone calls the Baskervilles, adding mirthful insult to injury). And it’s more of a shame than a felony that someone smashed an enormous pumpkin, made off with an heirloom-quality quilt and slung it over the back of a less-than-pristine Percheron. What really worries Meg isn’t pranks like these but the very real possibility that someone will murder vulgar vintner Genette Sedgewick, whose loud music and impossible potables have antagonized everyone in the winemakers’ tent, and that Caerphilly County Sheriff Deputy Vern Shiffley will arrest Meg’s friend Molly Riordan, who’s lost her husband to predatory Genette. Brett Riordan, not his painted doxy, turns out to be the victim of a fatal shooting, but Vern is still intent on arresting Molly, assuming of course that he can win a jurisdictional dispute with Billy Plunkett, the deputy who claims that the corpse is his, since its head is lying in Clay County. Asserting her rights as deputy director of the Un-Fair, Meg (Some Like It Hawk, 2012, etc.) plots a resolution that allows Vern to arrest Molly after all, then works feverishly to free her by finding the real culprit.
The plot never exactly thickens, but the fair provides a perfect background for more of the Caerphilly zanies’ carnival antics, as long as you don’t mind the sideshow upstaging the main event.