Unlike her musher friend Jesse Arnold (Death Trap, p. 645, etc.), senior citizen Maxie McNabb drives an RV, owns a mini-dachshund instead of a husky—and is rarely tormented by serial killers.
Nonetheless, her plan to spend time with an ailing friend is disrupted by violence. Firing up her RV, Maxie heads south from her Alaska home to her old friend Sarah Nunamaker in Grand Junction, Colorado. Sarah, who has only a few months to live, wants Maxie’s company. More urgently, she needs Maxie’s help with some problem that she refuses to explain. Maxie arrives to find Sarah’s house ransacked and Sarah in the hospital. By the next morning Sarah is dead, not from natural causes, and Maxie, her executrix, must settle Sarah’s estate, which she has left to her adopted son and any natural children of her own, the existence of whom no one has ever suspected until Ed Norris, Sarah’s college boyfriend, claims that Sarah’s adopted son, Alan, is actually his. Emphatically denying this birthright, Alan makes it clear that he resents Maxie’s and Ed’s presence. Puzzled and stung, Maxie searches Sarah’s home for the secret hiding places her friend loved to devise, in between dodging car collisions at the Colorado State Monument and research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
Luckily, Maxie is no Miss Marple, and those who like Henry’s chatty style will like this departure, too.