A weekend at a Denver “bud-and-breakfast” turns from mellowness to mayhem.
As a cancer survivor, Hannah Ives does all she can to support others in recovery. When Maryland Sen. Claire Thompson invites Hannah on an all-expenses-paid trip to Bell House in support of Claire’s bill to legalize marijuana in Maryland, Hannah is hesitant. She doesn’t want to leave her Annapolis home or her long-suffering husband. Besides, her last experience with recreational pot left her a little disoriented. But Claire wants her to be her clearheaded eyes and ears on a fact-finding mission, a precaution that proves very wise indeed. They find Bell House’s Happy Daze Experience package, including a tour of the owners’ weedery, both lavish and comprehensive, and Claire seems determined to take advantage of every pot-infused luxury offered so she can stay stoned. Ex–football star Mark King, a Maryland Representative who’s part of the task force too, brings along his wife, an ex-cheerleader. A less welcome guest is Daniel Fischel, who, it becomes clear, is a competitor who’s not quite what he seems. When someone smothers him with a pillow, Hannah (Footprints to Murder, 2016, etc.) goes into her usual snooping and sleuthing behind the backs of the police detectives. Then she discovers that Fischel wasn’t the only one with a secret, and in this American version of a manor-house mystery, Hannah has to figure out who among the guests—a young academic couple, a naval cadet, senior citizens on their way to a wedding—is hiding what before someone takes a pillow to her, too.
Talley’s 16th Hannah Ives mystery isn’t exactly chair-grippingly suspenseful. But the tireless amateur detective placed in another amusingly colorful setting with a cast of mildly entertaining characters does what the police can’t and provides a little poignancy as well.