An innkeeper’s efforts to help her artistic niece prove almost the death of her.
The worst problems Natalie Barnes thinks she’s facing are the way her engagement ring is irritating her finger and the impending visit of her mother-in-law-to-be. But then disaster strikes Maine’s Cranberry Island. Natalie gets notice that the mortgage on her Gray Whale Inn is in arrears, even though she’d provided a local lawyer with the payments. Worse, she finds her niece Gwen’s gay mentor, Fernand, with his wrist slashed after a big party at his house. The party had been notable for its undercurrents, especially those triggered by the arrival of a hot new artist and an overbearing agent who barely allows her to speak a word. Both Fernand’s partner and his sister turn up at the inn soon after his death. Although the police write it off as a suicide, both Gwen and Natalie suspect murder. After Natalie talks to her police officer fiance, John, who was off-island at the time of the death, he persuades his colleagues to take another look. Meantime, John’s mother, Catherine, arrives for her expected visit, making life even more stressful for Natalie as she struggles to support Gwen, who’s put aside her beautiful watercolors in favor of large oils that the sponsor of her show insists will sell better. Despite these distractions, Natalie, who’s had her share of experience tracking down killers (Berried to the Hilt, 2010, etc.), continues to hunt for the very clues that will put her in the greatest danger.
The fifth Gray Whale adventure provides complex characters, stunning scenery and many recipes. There’s also an easily solved mystery.