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 wellnot 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 deathssome of them irrefutably
murder, the others suspiciousfollow. 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
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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