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Synopsis

After Mary Carpenter suffers personal injury at the hands of a killer and total disillusionment with the justice system, she vows to leave crime fighting to the young and spend her days creating beautiful paintings. At seventy-five, she has spent over fifty years on the fringes of police work, first as a secretary, later as a consultant on dusty, old cases. Now she opts for the safety of an adult community.

When a woman dies the day Mary moves to the complex, she assumes the death is the result of natural causes, but then a second death occurs within days of her arrival. The police write off the second death, that of a senile woman who wanders the halls claiming Bridget O’Connor kills people, as an accident. Mary disagrees and jumps into the investigation.

Mary is not naive, she knows men die and leave wealthy widows, but Bridget has a track record of four dead spouses and several deceased relatives. Not only the number worries Mary, but also the pattern of financial need preceding each death. Mary has worked for Edmonton’s police service too long to doubt she is dealing with a black widow.

Now she must convince the police chief she is not feeble-minded, alert the prospective husband-to-be of his danger, and avoid being the next victim of a convenient ‘natural’ death.

Mary fumes when she realizes her long-time associates in Edmonton’s police service are humoring her, as if she was an old woman. Her dismay grows when repeated dead-ends lead them to question her reasoning. Can they truly believe her intuition has short-circuited?

To add to Mary’s worries, Bridget’s son is romancing her friend, Gloria Azzara. Unable to convince her friend that Garth O’Connor is not the man for her, Mary can only hope she has sufficient sense to see him with unclouded eyes, before she becomes his second dead wife.

An alliance of grandchildren, left without inheritances because of Bridget, seeks Mary’s expertise and adds to the meager information she is able to glean from police and public records.

Mary finds herself with an overwhelming supply of ifs and maybes, wisps of ancient memories, stacks of circumstantial evidence, and an earful of spiteful gossip, but nothing a jury would call proof.

When the police chief informs her of a verifiable murder involving Bridget, her first reaction is relief. Then she discovers the murder not only involves Bridget, but that she, and her newest intended, are the victims. Now she must discover the identity of the target and the murderer.

She eyes the vengeful discarded lover, the soon-to-be disinherited children, and the needy, greedy son. With the help of her youthful brigade of grandchildren, a willing police constable, and her own deductive reasoning, Mary points the police chief in the murderer’s direction.

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