Plucky amateur detective Elizabeth Parker investigates her third case of murder (Murder on the Bride’s Side, 2010, etc.).
Elizabeth and her colorful Aunt Winnie reunite to exchange Jane Austen quotations at the funeral of Elizabeth’s great uncle Martin. Martin’s three daughters—practical Ann, stuffy Frances and glamorous Regina—are at peace with his death after a long illness, while Martin’s widowed trophy wife Bonnie is histrionic. No sooner has Martin been laid to rest than the family receives a nasty shock: a dead body has been found at their former vacation home. The victim, buried eight years ago, is Michael Barrow, Regina’s ex-fiancé and the heir apparent to Martin’s business until a week after his disappearance, when his embezzlement was revealed. Bonnie decamps to a spa to recover, leaving Ann to sort through Martin’s bequests. Elizabeth volunteers to help Ann, thereby extricating herself from her irritating sister’s company and putting herself on the spot for the police investigation. The police work is complicated by Ann’s old romance with the lead detective and by Michael’s bad deeds, which gave far too many people motive to kill him. While Elizabeth’s asking questions and drawing connections, the killer strikes again. No matter how annoying her family members can be, Elizabeth is determined to show that they’re innocent, even if she has to risk her own life to do it.
Serviceable plot, stilted dialogue, one-dimensional characters—the lightest of beach reads.