A socialite-turned–private eye makes waves in an investigation of a hunting trophy that turns into a murder case.
Though the Discreet Retrieval Agency is hardly a profitable pursuit, widow Lola Woodby is determined to continue solving mysteries (Teetotaled, 2016, etc.) with her former cook, Berta, a formidable Swede. Their latest client is wealthy Lord Eustace Sudley, who wants them to retrieve a stuffed and mounted rhinoceros head from his friend and hunting companion Rudy Montgomery, saying it actually belongs to him. Berta is eager for the agency to take the case, if only to keep them in chocolate cake. Lola has her eyes on a bigger prize: she’s sure that her boyfriend, Ralph Oliver, is about to give her a ring. But Lola may not be the detective she believes she is, for when she meets Ralph at dinner, he presents her a gift box containing a gun, indicating that he’d rather she be safe in her single state than become his wife. Thrown by Ralph’s lack of commitment, Lola decides to take the job with Lord Sudley, and she and Berta head to Connecticut’s Montgomery Hall to hunt the rhinoceros trophy in its newest habitat. Forced to hobnob with weekend guests, Lola feels right at home with her wealthy employer and friends, unlike Berta, who just wants to get the job done. The stakes rise dramatically when Rudy is shot and killed and Lord Sudley hires the agency for a proper murder investigation. Berta doesn’t trust Lord Sudley’s intentions, but Lola thinks the investigation might offer a way to get over Ralph, and the possibility that Lord Sudley wants to keep her around for romantic reasons is the perfect olive in her martini.
Gratuitous complications weigh down the charms of this jinxed investigation, which don’t ring as true as the setups of Chance’s modern-day series (Bad Housekeeping, 2017, etc.).