“You won’t have to look at the body,” Voorburg-on-Hudson police chief Howard Walker assures Lily Brewster (Someone to Watch Over Me, 2001, etc.) of the corpse in her B&B, in what could stand as a signature line for this cozy period series.
As an anxious nation waits for Governor Roosevelt to unseat do-nothing Herbert Hoover, Lily and her brother Robert, born to privilege but ruined in the Crash, face (or don’t exactly face) problems closer to home. Lily’s premonition that the stranger who wanted to rent her biggest room for his group’s private weekend conference was up to no good is abundantly justified when the group’s head honcho, now identified as radio preacher Brother Mark Luke Goodheart, is stabbed and drowned in Lily’s nicest bathtub. Chief Walker naturally responds by shipping all the surviving cronies of Goodheart, né Charles Pottinger, off to Matteawan. Lily, meanwhile, is already in a tizzy because she and Robert have just started a new job substituting for Millicent Langston, a local schoolteacher who isn’t where she said she’d be. More briefly missing is little Joey Towerton, kidnapped for a few hours while his mother Mary waits to learn whether the “Rick Taughton” killed at work on the Hoover Dam was actually her husband.
Though this byplay generates no more suspense than wondering if your self-rising biscuits are really going to rise, Churchill really does pull all her subplots together, which is more than you can say for President Hoover.