Four ladies who’ve purchased a bookshop in the Scottish Highlands find murder messing up their plans.
Illinois native Janet Marsh is no stranger to Inversgail, a charming west Highland coastal village where she’s owned a vacation home for many years. After her husband, Curtis, had an affair with one of his graduate students, Janet got the house free and clear in the divorce proceedings. Now she and her Scottish friend Christine Robertson, who's lived in Illinois for decades and whose parents live in Inversgail, have settled in the town, along with Janet’s 38-year-old daughter, Tallie, and her friend Summer, planning to run the bookstore along with a tea room and a B&B. For some reason Janet hasn't been able to get into her house, though she gave the real estate agent who's been renting it out plenty of notice, and when she strolls over to take a look, she sees the kitchen piled high with reeking garbage. But that’s not the worst of it. The body of Una Graham, the local agony aunt and troublemaker, is soon found in the garden shed with a sickle in her neck. Neither the local constable nor the specialists sent in have much to say. So the four ladies decide to do some sleuthing on their own. Janet’s realtor thought Una was persecuting her and was the one who dumped the garbage. Janet’s next-door neighbor, a famous and self-centered author of mysteries, had his own problems with Una. And when they find a cache of threatening letters probably written by Una hidden in the unfinished tea room, they realize she must have had lots of enemies. Their investigation turns up many sad stories that could provide motives for murder. Now they just have to find the right one before the killer strikes again.
This series kickoff from MacRae (Wilder Rumors, 2007, etc.) is chock-full of intriguing characters and Highland charm. Maybe a little too full: it could have done with some judicious pruning.