It took an ugly divorce to get homeroom cupcake queen Bitsy Burnside aboard the feminist boat, but now it’s full speed ahead. Using the proceeds of her settlement and a healthy inheritance from a rich great-uncle, she’s bought a huge old dormered Victorian house that she plans to renovate into a corporate bed-and-breakfast. And she’s hired carpenters named Jacqueline and Henrietta, a sheetrock installer named Evaline, and an electrician named Thomasina to work on the project under the rather inept direction of general contractor Sandra Anderson. Now she wants to hire Shelley Nowack and her best friend and next-door neighbor Jane Jeffry (Mulch Ado About Nothing, 2000, etc.) as decorators. Shelley’s all for it. Not only will she earn some pin money, but decorator’s credentials will allow her to browse the fabulous Merchandise Mart, home to over a thousand different showerheads. Jane’s more skeptical, especially since the worksite has already been the target of several nasty pranks, including a bag of frozen shrimp shoved into the ductwork and a fake bomb in a toolbox. But when Sandra’s corpse in found in the basement, Jane’s enthusiasm returns—not for renovating Bitsy’s place, but for solving the murder. Fueled by a combination of self-confidence and imperturbable naïveté (and ignoring the warnings of her sometime squeeze, Detective Mel Van Dyne), she interviews suspect after suspect until she stumbles upon the truth.
Neither rich in clues nor a milestone in the annals of feminism, but still highly readable.