Los Angeles literary agent Charlie Greene (Killer Commute, 2000, etc.) thought the trip back to Great-aunt Gertie’s funeral in Myrtle, Iowa, was strictly for her mother’s sake. After all, as the adopted daughter of biology professor Edwina Greene, Charlie has no genetic connection with these yokels. But a cryptic pronouncement from nasty old Great-aunt Abigail reveals that Charlie was not only an unwed teenage mother, but the daughter of one of the town’s seemingly innumerable unwed teenage mothers—all descendants of the original Myrtle, whose scandalous out-of-wedlock pregnancy got her locked up in the fruit cellar for good. This might be a chance for Charlie, with the help of marshal Delwood Brunsvold, to find her birth mother. But a trip to her birthplace sends Charlie on a detour to Gentle Oaks Nursing Home, where she discovers that what fertility is to youth, incontinence is to old age. In fact, the babbling residents in their droopy Depends are nothing more than human vegetables. Why doesn’t someone put them out of their misery? And justlike that, someone promptly does. Edwina, Del, even sexy barkeep Kenny Cowper beg Charlie to discover who smothered Doris Wyborny and Ida Mae Truex, not to mention activities director Darla Lempke. And Charlie, who’s been on the rag even since her plane touched down at Mason City, spends the few minutes between tampon-changes doing just that.
With dementia looming for us all, don’t waste your last moments of lucidity on Millhiser’s cluttered, mean-spirited tale of the three ages of woman, with concomitant bodily emissions.