Murder in Gray and White

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

They may be pampered white-haired widows of admirals, but very little that goes on a Camden-sur-Mer escapes the notice of Angela Benbow and Caledonia Wingate. Months have passed since their last detective adventure and they miss the excitement. Suddenly, a resident is found clubbed to death in the community exercise room. The victim, Amy Kinseth, was a new arrival whose insufferable arrogance and sharp tongue had managed to alienate everyone in the retirement community. Determining exactly who had the best motive for murdering her presents quite a challenge. Angela and Caledonia eagerly volunteer their sleuthing services to the investigating officer, Lieutenant Martinez of the San Diego County Police.

Martinez agrees to let them follow up his official investigation as long as they agree to consult with him and wait for his permission to interview suspects. Angela and Caledonia have their own interpretation of what constitutes Martinez’ permission, and they hastily assemble their own list of suspects to be interviewed. From the young decorator who was nearly bankrupted by having to redecorate Kinseth’s immaculate new apartment, to the poetic con-man who was angling for Kinseth’s financial support, to the fluff-headed twin sisters who overheard everything through the paper-thin wall they shared with Kinseth, Angela and Caledonia have their hands full trying to crack the case. When the murderer strikes again and a mysterious round of flu strikes the residents, Angela and Caledonia must move quickly before they become the next victims.

Corinne Holt Sawyer has created a refreshing pair of sleuths whose personalities have more in common with “The Golden Girls” than with the quietly observant Miss Jane Marple. Sawyer’s ability to create a suspenseful whodunit with a touch of comedy and an unsentimental, yet loving, respect for the elderly should gain for her a wide audience among mystery lovers and general readers alike.