To keep herself occupied while her dance troupe is on hiatus and her husband is in Paris contemplating a divorce, director Lindy Graham-Haggerty (Midsummer Murder, 2001, etc.) agrees to serve as Mary Elizabeth Porter’s co-chair for Mischief Night, a teen-center fundraiser to be staged on the Van Cleef property, which includes barns, outbuildings, trees, fast-flowing streams, the open-air accommodations of eccentric storyteller Adam Crabtree, and perhaps remnants of the Underground Railroad. Also in evidence are an anonymous limerick writer chastising those Fright Night committee members guilty of the seven deadly sins; a murderer who drowned a p.i. no one will admit hiring; a drug pusher focusing on the at-risk teenagers tutored by the green-haired, hipper-than-hip Melanie, a recent replacement for the cancer-stricken Janey; Mary Elizabeth’s bratty stepdaughter Fallon and her eye-for-the-ladies fiancé Derrick; a cop or two, including Bill Brandecker, temporarily in charge of his nephews and pining with love for Lindy; and Brother Bart of the Gospel of Galilee Church and his flock, protesting the celebration of Halloween, Satan’s Sabbath. Stalled rehearsals for the evening’s theatrical revue and mystery hayride are started again with the backstage help of a trio of Lindy’s dance-troupe chums, but stop dead when kids go missing and another corpse looms. After a few close calls and heaps of unsubtle snooping, Lindy will set everything right except, sad to say, her marital situation.
Freydont’s indiscriminate inclusion of everything, from campy repartee to a plethora of one-dimensional suspects and their preposterous motives, epitomizes the kitchen-sink school of mystery writing.