A real-estate developer transplants St. Mary’s Mead to the California desert, and gets pretty much what he deserves.
Awaiting the birth of her daughter Annie’s first child, and still resisting fiancé Peter Gambino’s pleas to set a wedding date, celebrity biographer Cece Caruso (Sam Spade in the Green Room, 2006, etc.) agrees to stage an interactive Murder Mystery Tea at Christietown, the larkspur-laced brainchild of Ian Christie, who swears he’s related to Dame Agatha herself. Cece pulls out all the stops, recruiting for the extravaganza not only Gambino but her best friends Bridget and Lael, over-the-hill showgirls Lois and Marlene, her gardener, Javier Gomez, and even her dance instructor, Lou Berman and his secretary, Wren Abbott. But Lou’s wife Liz (aka Miss Marple) never shows. She’s back at the sales office (aka the Vicarage), dead of an overdose of foxglove. Her demise turns out to be good news for Ian and his partner, a surly Israeli named Dov Pick (aka the Icepick), but bad news for Wren. The obligatory Southern California dispute over water rights and a second murder cast doubt on Christietown’s future, just as the reappearance of Cece’s loathsome ex, with fiancée and future mother-in-law in tow, throws a pall over Annie’s upcoming blessed event.
Murky stuff from the usually reliable Kandel.