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The Cemetery Yew
by Cynthia Riggs
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The Cemetery Yew by Cynthia Riggs
The Cemetery Yew
by Cynthia Riggs  

There's more than one reason the new West Tisbury police chief officially made ninety-two-year-old Victoria Trumbull her deputy. For one thing, Victoria knows just about everything about everyone in town, and a lot about the rest of the Martha's Vineyard year-round population as well—not to mention their ancestors. Victoria may be afflicted with the usual aches and pains that descend on nonagenarians (she has a cut-off shoe to accommodate her bunion and a stout stick to help her on her walks through fields and woods.) But she is as sharp and as sharp-eyed as the proverbial tack. So when Victoria is the only one who spots something amiss among the gravestones of the West Tisbury cemetery, it's no surprise that the chief listens.

Something is indeed amiss. First comes a request by presumed relatives in the Midwest to disinter a coffin for reburying elsewhere. Then things go wrong from there. The driver of the hearse coming to collect the coffin disappears during the island ferry trip in a rainstorm. Other deaths—some of them irrefutably murder, the others suspicious—follow. And when as a last measure the coffin is found, dug up and opened, it does not contain the expected body. Then the coffin itself disappears.

Meanwhile, the available bedroom for rent in Victoria's house has been taken over by a female relative of one of the neighbors and her raucous toucan, a bird as spoiled as the most bratty millionaire's heir. Victoria is gracious to her unwanted boarders, but they do interfere with the column she writes for the local newspaper and with her efforts to discover whether the strange antics of the coffin are related to the murders.

Victoria is the most realistic and delightful nonagenarian in mystery fiction. Her years have not blunted her intelligence and her sharp wit. We're lucky that she's still around and seems to be set for a long time.

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©2017 by Cynthia Riggs