Marriage in the ninth decade.
Mrs. Berns, irascible 86-year-old resident of the Senior Sunset home, has decided she will marry Bernard Mink, a nogoodnik with a record for assault and a vocabulary rivaling Mrs. Malaprop’s, in order to stymie her son from resettling her in a maximum-security nursing home. The problem is that Bernard may he a murder suspect in the death of political blogger Bob Webber, who either gassed himself or was asphyxiated in a bedroom at the Big Chief Motor Lodge. Mrs. Berns, laid up in a hospital bed with broken ribs, contusions and a bent leg from a suspicious car accident, asks her best friend Mira James, part-time librarian/part-time reporter for the Battle Lake, Minn., Gazette (September Fair, 2009, etc.), to prove Bernard innocent so that her wedding can go on as planned. Mira’s snooping wends past two candidates vying for office, a boring do-gooder and a caustic opportunist, and turns up marital infidelity, a wacky daughter devoted to a gerbil, and many opportunities for Mira to fall off the wagon, which she resists with slightly less enthusiasm than the messages beaming from the big blue eyes of her sometime boyfriend Johnny. When the opportunistic candidate is shot, Mira must corral the killer by executing a sting with the help of her ex, Brad, in time for Mrs. Berns’ beautifully staged non-wedding at the church.
The murders aren’t very interesting, and the plotting self-destructs at the end, but along the way, the story is funny, ribald and brimming with small-town eccentrics.