In Quigley’s debut, a former star of daytime drama solves a hometown mystery in the Adirondacks.
When soap opera diva Veronica Walsh’s series is canceled, she finds herself without a job for the first time in 32 years. Since 54-year-old actresses get offered nothing but geriatric commercials, she decides to go back to her house in Barton, N.Y., for a breather. Her first night there, she overhears her next-door neighbor Anna Langdon breaking off an affair with Tim Petersen, Veronica’s high school boyfriend. When Anna blocks a sale of an old farm to a mall developer, she becomes a hero to Veronica’s mother, who runs the family-owned bookstore, and all the other small-business owners in town, including more of Veronica’s classmates from Sacred Heart High. Veronica is intrigued and mildly embarrassed when Anna invites her to come over for breakfast the next day. But when Veronica arrives, she finds Anna lying dead from a blow to the head with a cast-iron skillet. Although Veronica is repeatedly warned that she’s not in a soap opera anymore and she should stay out of the way, she likes having a job again: finding the killer. She also enjoys the male companionship of her classmate Mark Burke, a history professor at the local college, and Alex Shelby, her former leading man. With their help, she compiles a list of suspects that grows longer as more days pass, more people who say that they shouldn’t speak ill of the dead proceed to do so and more motives for the murder surface.
Quigley supplies more hugging, kissing and backbiting than actual suspense, especially since Veronica’s detection skills partly rely on overhearing key conversations, but her genial debut ably captures small-town living and a sense of class and family.