I think it’s hard to pull off the elderly sleuth, or it seems to be given how few there are. Add Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Myrtle Clover to Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax and Anne George’s Southern Sisters successful efforts.
The victim is in A Dyeing Shame Tammy Smith, the North Carolina beautician who owns the Beauty Box, who’s found stabbed to death by her own shears. Myrtle Clover is her 80-something-year-old customer who, despite the fact that Tammy had been spiraling completely out of control, revealing or hinting at things told her in confidence, is determined to solve the mystery — almost as determined as her son, Red, who’s the town police chief.
Myrtle knocks around town, her cane thumping along, but don’t let that fool you. She asks tough questions and employs Sherlockian deductive reasoning to put the clues together and solve the mystery. She lives across the street from Red, his wife and their toddler, and she does her best to help them out while also pumping Red for information about the case.
If you miss Anne George and wish the Southern Sisters series was still going, you might like this series, too — it’s really just as funny. For instance, between searching for clues and spying on people, Myrtle and her neighbor Miles keep exchanging a really awful painting by Myrtle’s daughter-in-law (Myrtle tells him she wants him to have it while he has guests, he doesn’t want it to be seen in his house, lest the guests think he’s lost his mind, or at least his taste). Myrtle also has a garden gnome collection that she uses strategically, and she’s a former English teacher, which results in some pithy quotations and some adult former students who are still intimidated by her mere presence.
It’s light, it’s funny, it’s a good mystery, and if you’re a Kindle reader it’s a great bargain! Next time I need a break from scary or graphic crime fiction, I’m going in search of Myrtle Clover.