In her first book, Deadly Nightshade, Cynthia Riggs
introduced us to one of fiction's most delightful
and most realistic amateur detectives. Victoria Trumbull
is a feisty ninety-two-year-old who refuses to let
the aches and pains of age stop her from enjoying
her multifarious activities.
A native of the Massachusetts island called Martha's
Vineyard, whose ancestors sailed from its shores generations
back, Victoria knows more about the island, its people,
and its history than anyone else living. This knowledge
has helped her solve one murder and earn her own baseball
cap emblazoned with "West Tisbury Police Deputy"
and the job that goes with it.
Phoebe Eldridge, a short-tempered woman who lives
alone, has sold the family land to a developer who
made an offer that seemed too good to resist. She
never planned to leave it to her only relativesa
grandaughter she dislikes intensely and a son who
disappeared some years ago, and whose name she won't
The Conservation Trust enlists Victoria to search
that land for an endangered plant, any endangered
plant, because the state prohibits bulldozing rare-plant
habitats. Victoria is delighted to add another purpose
to her daily walks. With an eleven-year-old after-school
assistant, and with the "endangered" list
in hand, she begins her search. Her first find, though,
is the body of one Montgomery Mausz, the developer's
rather dubious attorney.
Victoria is also rewarded, however, by the discovery
of a little nest of cranefly orchids. In the course
of this botanical detection, Victoria and her assistant
are treated to adventures that delight the ninety-two-year-old
as much as the preteen, even though they both get
more scares than they bargained for.
This charming story will have readers hoping that
the sea air, home-baked beans, and a vital interest
in what goes on around her will keep old Victoria
Trumbull going for a long, long time.