A village fàte, a stately home and its residents, and a literary curmudgeon all figure prominently in the latest adventure of West County author and amateur sleuth Sheila Malory (The Cruellest Month; Mrs. Malory Investigates). When obstreperous Adrian Palgrave, who's unexpectedly been named literary executor of Laurence Meredith's unpublished letters and papers, is murdered on the opening night of the Taviscombe festival, suspects abound- -including poor Robin, the festival treasurer, whom Palgrave humiliated; pregnant Jessie, who was abandoned by him; and Oliver, whose affair Palgrave was about to reveal. Robin then disappears and later surfaces as a suicide, and Palgrave's widow, Enid, announces that she'll now edit the Meredith material--and promptly dies in a suspicious fire. Sheila and her friend's son Roger, a homicide inspector, try to establish a timetable for everyone's movements at the festival, but it's their delving into certain family secrets that finally reveals a (dubious) motive and implicates the guilty. Familiar, cozy fare that entertains right up to the end--when it collapses under a bit of mawkishness. Traditionalists, however, will probably be most forgiving, particularly when they discover the appearance of their favorite murder weapon--the dented candlestick.