Maggie Summer returns to the antique-show circuit after an especially rough winter. After her husband died unexpectedly over Christmas, Maggie missed the January fair, and nothing less than a death in the family—and the dearth of print dealers—would have convinced Vince Thompson, shrewd manager of four East Coast expositions, to reserve her booth for the Rensselaer County Spring Antiques Fair. Maggie arrives to find azaleas in bloom and cops checking badges. Several antique dealers have died recently, the last poisoned, and Thompson wants to make sure this fair goes off without incident. Naturally, his hope is proved vain when one of Maggie’s old acquaintances, Harry Findley, is bludgeoned to death on opening night. Ben, the young nephew of Maggie’s good friend Gussie White, witnessed a suspicious confrontation between the victim and someone else, but it’s Ben himself who’s arrested, mostly because he has Down’s syndrome. To help her young friend, Maggie investigates by indulging in the dealers’ customary pastime of gossip. In fact, she hits the mother lode with Harry and Susan, his beautiful wife, who seemed to have had a remarkably close marriage while he was alive, but have now spawned rumors of imminent divorce. Is she really taking his death as hard as mild-mannered book-dealer Joe Cousins? Susan drinks herbal tea, takes lots of pills, tries to find comfort with lecherous Vince, and waits for the next poisoning.
Maggie is pleasantly cozy, though her first case is about as thrilling as an episode of Antiques Roadshow.