by Corinne Holt Sawyer
This is the first in a series of mysteries set in Camden-sur-Mer, a retirement home in the tiny town of Camden, California. Our amateur detectives include four 70-something ladies, who live at the center - the formidable Angela Benbow, and her friends - Caledonia Wingate, Nan Church, and Stella Austin.
The book opens with a death. Sweetie Gilfillan, retired librarian and plain jane, who lived at the smallest cottage on site, was stabbed multiple times and fell down a staircase. She is found face down on the beach. Initially no one can figure out who would want to murder the innocuous victim - "poor Sweetie" - who always had her nose in a book. Angela and her friends decide to help the police in their investigation - partly because the murderer may be a threat to all of them, but mostly because it's an exciting adventure in their otherwise humdrum lives.
Then a second murder takes place. Paulette Piper, who's been married three times and may have been after a fourth husband, is found at the bottom of the center's back stairs, pushed to her death. What could connect the two victims, for surely their murders must be related?
There are plenty of suspects - Mr. Grogran, the angry drunk who lived next to Sweetie; Mr. Littlebrook, whom Paulette may have set her sights on as husband number four; Mr. Torgeson, director of the residence, who may have a secret to hide. Did one of them do it?
I enjoy pitting my wits against the sleuth (or in this case, sleuths) to determine the guilty party. Though in this story I was pretty sure who the culprit was before the close, there were enough red herrings to keep me wondering. And Sawyer kept me laughing without demeaning her protagonists, as Angela and her "partners in crime" got themselves into one humorous predicament after another along the way.