A well-known author’s greatest achievement may be his corpse.
Literary lion Rick Wilbraham had it all: a fabulous estate complete with swimming pool in quaint Markenlea; a relative acting as general factotum; an ex-wife; a live-in lover; and a village full of genteel folk he’d lightly fleeced in real-estate deals, any one of whom might have killed him with that nasty garden stake. But, wait, it seems he drowned before he was stabbed. Even before they pour themselves a restorative gin after coming upon his body, his neighbor Elena and her visiting mum Dodie begin making lists of who had motive and opportunity. Rick’s gal pal Anna demurely maintains she’s innocent. But is she, or has she taken Rick’s new manuscript and hidden it away? His agent demands it. Ditto his editor. But Elena and Dodie discover there may not even have been a new manuscript. In fact, Rick may not even be the author of his first novel. Alibis will be checked, cups of tea poured, the local constabulary chatted up and another victim dispatched before Rick’s demise is sorted out and Elena and Dodie have nothing more to fear than the advent of their balmy, crotchety family matriarch.
Journeywoman Oliver (The Cobweb Cage, not reviewed) displays rudimentary writing skills, zero tolerance for characterization, and, alas, a slavish devotion to red herrings.