A night of calamities befalls an inn.
First an Irish wolfhound beds down in a communal bathtub. Then a set of twins stables a horse in the inn’s garage. Then the horse disappears, a guest registers under a stolen ID, a married couple leave by an upstairs window rather than paying the room rate and the Paine family reunion, which was supposed to reunite family members in harmony, is so uncivil that the relatives check out right after dinner, every last one of them, including the wife with a wandering eye, the husband who may be a confidential snitch for the feds and the pouting vegan who had planned to sell that horse to a pair of wealthy Arabs. As if this isn’t enough trauma to send innkeeper Judith Flynn (Loco Motive, 2010, etc.) for restorative slugs of scotch, her husband Joe, a retired policeman now working as a private eye, is accused of murder when his gun, missing from the house safe, is used to kill a handicapped insurance scammer. In addition, Judith’s Uncle Al goes missing at the track, her mother kvetches relentlessly about the lack of attention she’s getting, and a passel of school children come down with food poisoning from tainted meat. Would that be horse meat? Perhaps. With an assist from a lonely reporter and her cousin Renie, Judith is on the verge of settling matters when, ever the gracious hostess, she invites the killer into the inn.
This long-running series (26 titles and counting) combines charm with chaos at a consistently polished level.