An Everyman detective is asked to solve a murder in a wealthy community in which ample motives and abundant resources make everyone a suspect.
Caroline Campbell wishes to celebrate her husband’s 65th birthday in the low-key manner dictated by her breeding. Ostentatious announcements are for other people. So Caro invites several of her and John E.’s closest friends for a weekend at their rural Pennsylvania getaway, Bucolia Farm. As author Richard (Naughty Nana, 2013) shows the guests receiving the engraved invitations, each of the eponymous one-percenters gives clues about what readers may grow to revile about them: greed, pretension, lust. When the guests are assembled, it appears that most are united in their dislike of one of their own. Preston Phillips, who’s earned his invitation as the hostess’s first cousin, is as much a draw to partygoers as he is a repellant. Some have come to Bucolia just to settle a score with Preston. Marshall and Julia Winthrop have been on the wrong side of Preston’s shady business dealings. Vicki and Leon Spiller seem to blame Preston for the death of their teenage son many years ago. For other attendees, feelings about Preston are more mixed. His former fiancee, Margo, whom he left at the altar years ago, finds herself almost willing to make amends. When Preston doesn’t make it through the celebration weekend alive, Detective Oliver Parrott, who takes charge of the case, is so struck by the partygoers’ consensual impressions of the selfish businessman that he realizes the case may be more about who didn’t kill Preston than who did.
Richard’s inclination to favor the one-percenters’ perspectives may leave readers craving more of the wicked socialite skewing that’s employed only intermittently in her adult mystery debut.