A lady of leisure takes a stiff drink sweetened with antifreeze; Claire Gray, Palm Springs’ Desert Arts College teacher, investigates.
The victim of the fatal beverage is Felicia Yeats, poisonous second wife of billionaire Desert Arts founder D. Glenn Yeats. As is her wont (Desert Winter, 2003, etc.), Claire’s on hand when her body is discovered the day after Felicia forces herself into the software tycoon’s home, unhappy that she can’t sell the historic I.T. Dirkman–designed house in Santa Barbara her divorce settlement granted her. The land is worth so much money, she darkly hints to the assembled company, that maybe it would pay her to burn the house and take her profit. Since Yeats’s guests include Claire, Felicia’s unloving stepdaughter Paige and I.T. Dirkman, the field is abloom with suspects when Felicia doesn’t show up for lunch the next day. But Yeats is clearly the first choice of Orange County Detective Larry Knoll. Nothing daunted, Claire interrupts her susurrus of observations about her acquaintances’ wardrobe long enough to observe a parallel between Felicia’s death and that of Daphne du Maurier’s heroine Rebecca, whose dramatized story her summer drama workshop is studying, solving the case to universal approbation before everybody returns to a hearty dinner.
Less mystery than romance, with time out for a wedding that Claire is a lot more interested in than any murder.