Wooed away from Broadway by supermogul D. Glenn Yeats, who wanted a stage director of national stature to anchor the theater department at his newly founded Desert Arts College outside Palm Springs, Claire Gray feels as if she’s landed in paradise. As one cloudlessly perfect day follows another, Claire revels in DAC’s state-of-the-art theater, dines on seared monkfish on a potato cake infused with lemon confit at a toney local bistro, or sips kir at Nirvana, Yeats’s palatial mesatop estate. Kiki Jasper-Plunkett, her best friend of 30 years, has been lucky enough to find not only a job in DAC’s costume design department but a townhouse in Villa Paseo, the same exclusive complex as Claire. And although no potential beau (he’s gay),Villa Paseo’s manager Grant Knoll turns out to be a sensitive, attentive guardian angel. What’s not to like? Well, there’s the murder of Jodie Metz-Huron, perky wife of Claire’s colleague, sculptor Paul Huron, who finds the cardiac-care nurse dead in their bedroom on his return from an out-of-town trip—at a time when she was supposed to be on overnight shift at the hospital. Fortunately, Grant’s younger brother, police detective Larry Knoll, is just thrilled to have Claire’s help in solving this case, relying on the talented amateur sleuth’s intuition and sense of stagecraft to unmask the snake in this desert Eden.
In this way-too-talky series debut, the creator of the gay-themed Mark Manning series (Boy Toy, p. 543, etc.) proves that crossing gender lines can be harder than catching tumbleweed.