Like most people, Lori Shepherd would give her eyeteeth to spend five days at Hailesham Park, the Earl of Elstyn’s country home. But Lori’s friend and neighbor Emma Harris isn’t like most people. Her contractor husband Derek, the presumptive tenth earl, has never wanted anything to do with the father he broke with years ago, and the invitation leaves her fretting about how an American commoner should act in a houseful of aristocrats, and fearful lest one of the collateral relatives—perhaps one of Derek’s cousins, handsome Simon Elstyn, his bashful brother Oliver, or empty-headed Lady Claudia Landover—improve their chances of inheriting the estate by putting Derek out of the way. Sure enough, as Lori, encouraged by Dimity Westwood, the ghostly presence whose chatty messages appear in an old journal, arrives at Hailesham Park with her husband, Bill Willis, who just happens to be one of the Earl’s attorneys, they’re greeted by a burning topiary turtledove. More skullduggery follows—a series of threatening anonymous letters, a pair of suspicious falls from an exemplary horse—but, rest assured, nothing as sordid as murder, or even grand larceny. The mystery, such as it is, is solved by a documents expert with no help from either Aunt Dimity or Lori, whose expertise this time is confined to an unerring sense of what to wear to meals with an earl.
A weightless mystery with precious few clues whose solution implicates a toothless malefactor: altogether the feather-lightest of Aunt Dimity’s eight posthumous cases (Aunt Dimity: Detective, 2001, etc.).