An urgent request to help her cousin catapults Cealie Gunther (Relative Danger, 2006) into a murder case.
Even though she’s been successfully running a business since her husband’s death, Cealie is still seeking her inner self when she arrives at her cousin Stevie’s Tennessee home just in time to trip over a dead man in the backyard. Cealie is surprised that Stevie, once a vibrant schoolteacher, is overweight, straggly-haired and surly, possibly because she’s trying to quit smoking. The dead man was in Stevie’s stop-smoking group, but she claims not to have known him. When the police insist that Cealie stay in town, she decides that she might as well investigate the murder. Cealie’s lover Gil Thurman, who longs for exactly the permanent relationship Cealie shuns, has just opened the latest in a popular line of Cajun restaurants. The local hangout soon becomes a favorite haunt of Stevie and her reluctant cousin. Cealie’s prying makes her no friends in the stop-smoking group, which include a priest who’s often accompanied by hookers and a group leader who’s never smoked. When another in the group drops dead in a bowl of Gil’s gumbo, Cealie has even more incentive to solve the crime so that she can escape Gil’s magnetic attraction and her cousin’s mysterious and ever nastier mood swings.
Shaw amplifies Cealie’s character, but her sophomore case lacks the spark of her debut.