When an elderly patient leaves Philadelphia physician Andrew Fenimore 50 acres in southern New Jersey—and a treasure map—he finds nothing there but mud and mosquitoes. Undaunted, he stops on his way home to call on another aged patient, Lydia Ashley, on her nearby farm. Lydia’s been having a spot of trouble: butchered carcasses left to rot in her barn, smoke bombs set off, demands to sell up heaved through her window. Concerned for the state of her heart, Fenimore sends his trusty nurse Mrs. Doyle to stay with her and her granddaughter Susan, and the estimable Mrs. Doyle is soon chatting up members of the Colonial Society, an old classmate of Fenimore’s now head of a boys’ academy, two of Susan’s suitors, and Lydia’s housekeeper and handyman. When his office boy Horatio is stabbed in a gang initiation, Fenimore sends him out to Lydia’s as well to recover and reconnoiter, but the troubles continue. Susan’s diving hose is slit, Lydia’s heart medicine is tampered with, and Mrs. Doyle is shot at and abducted. Not to fear; with a little seductive help from his girlfriend Jennifer and some hobnobbing with Philadelphia’s rich and avaricious, Fenimore deciphers a code purloined from Lydia’s old beau and family lawyer, rescues Mrs. Doyle from a mud bank, and eventually uncovers the passel of baddies causing Lydia all her distress.
Charming, with interesting tidbits about colonial brickwork and coins. If Fenimore is a bit dull, Mrs. Doyle, Horatio, and Jennifer more than take up the slack.