Cui bono, mate?
Dinah Pelerin’s mother Swan was the favorite wife of that rapscallion Cleon Dobbs. Her preferred status disgruntled not only the helpmeet who preceded her but the one who followed her as well. So when the three wives, with all their viperous offspring, are summoned to a really uncomfortable lodge in Australia’s Northern Territory, to hear how Cleon, now dying of cancer, has itemized his will, the mood quickly turns ugly, particularly when a journalist’s skewered body turns up and Cleon’s doctor, on hand to assist him in ending his pain-filled life, is poisoned. The survivors can’t help wondering if someone’s missed the real target—Cleon, of course, who’s infuriated everyone by changing his will umpteen times and leaving his two Winslow Homer watercolors to Dinah. But there’s something a little off about those watercolors. Could they have been forged? And now here comes yet another relative to make a claim on Cleon, a long-lost illegitimate son. Hmm. Maybe he’s as fake as the artwork. Next come more family bickering, more will-changing and a final murderous twist to wrap things up.
Matthews’s debut provides a lively updating of that classic mystery setup, the reading of the will, rife with squabbling kinfolk, quirky Strine (Aussie slang) and a nice introduction to Dinah, who is between jobs and between lovers.