In this second outing (Murder at Sunset, 2001), "nosey old maid" Maggie Goss, bless her, helps foil a North Korean terrorist plot.
Maggie and her good friend Helen Washington have retreated to Northern California to recuperate from the Mafia murders of their families. To distract herself, Maggie signs up for flying lessons, and during a simulated emergency, she attempts to land at Mysterious Valley, a private runway. As a bright green laser sweeps through the cockpit, Maggie, a gleaming example of chutzpah, resolves to identify the beam and its function, teaming up with physicist Chuck Hoppmann and sidekick Helen. While trespassing at the private airstrip, the trio encounters one of those sinister Asians with a Swedish surname and "a hint of Asian accent, like first generation Asian-Americans." It seems the North Koreans have set up headquarters at a nearby St. Helena winery to produce botulin toxin, and not for nifty Botox injections–but for use on warheads aimed at Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington! (The laser is a communication device, see.) The Keystone communists keep screwing everything up, however, by using non-Asian surnames, and by their insistence on driving "Asian sedans." (Don't ask, but the characters' real names aren't Korean at all, but, rather, "General Hi-Woo," for example, and "Major Sing.") Clearly, old Maggie has her work cut out for her. But the feisty amateur sleuth is up to the job, even becoming an FBI operative–complete with a backpack full of kickass Quantico-developed weaponry. The plot hustles along, with Maggie an interesting, if somewhat superficial, heroine.
If McGrath would just lose the embarrassing stereotypes and polish the writing, we'd like to see more of him.