A legacy turns deadly in a series debut.
The joy of teaching literature at Reed College has gone out of Emily Cavanaugh’s life since she lost her husband two years earlier. She’s shocked out of her ennui, however, when her great-aunt Beatrice Runcible dies and leaves Emily most of her property. Beatrice was generous to Emily when she needed a home as a child and teenager, but they hadn’t met in years. Now Emily isn’t sure she’s worthy of the large Victorian house (complete with housekeeper) and several other buildings in Stony Beach, Oregon, as well as a big pile of cash. When she meets her fellow legatee and cousin-in-law at Beatrice’s funeral, he’s quick to agree with her self-deprecating opinion. The mayor of Stony Beach and an aggressive realtor both assume that Emily will boost the community by selling her beachfront property for development. And the doctor who signed Beatrice’s death certificate has an interest in seeing the will pass probate, making it harder for Emily to find out if her great-aunt did indeed die from an allergic reaction to lobster. The seemingly accidental death of the redoubtable housekeeper and a fire at one of Emily’s lesser buildings indicate that someone’s out to get her, though it doesn’t prevent her from taking in a possible spy for one of the suspects. Apart from her mortal danger, Emily’s a lucky woman: she has a literary allusion for every occasion, stands to inherit half the town and $6 million, and gets a second chance with Luke Richards, who was her boyfriend 35 years ago. He’s still living in Stony Beach, more handsome than ever, conveniently single, and the local sheriff’s lieutenant. As Luke and Emily rekindle their romance, they combine their wits to find the killer before he—or she—strikes again.
Although first-time novelist Hyde’s middle-aged heroine has wretched instincts about whom to trust, she and her lost-and-found lover make an amiable team.