Maggie Dove, a Sunday school teacher who loves order, lives in a small town near Tarrytown, NY. She's a widow and is still mourning the death of her beautiful daughter who died 20 years ago.
In her well regulated life, the major source of discomfort is her neighbor, Marcus Bender. He bought the house next door and proceeded to make changes. Maggie doesn't like it, but she can accept it until he insists that she cut down her oak tree. Maggie loves that tree and it makes her wish that her neighbor would just leave things alone, or find somewhere else to live.
It almost feels like justice when Maggie finds Bender dead on the lawn under her oak tree. She scolds herself for her feelings, but things get worse when Peter, her dead daughter's boyfriend who is like a son to her, becomes the main suspect. Now Maggie has to breakout of her comfortable life and do something to find the real murderer.
Maggie Dove is an unusual heroine for a mystery novel. She's elderly and very depressed. In fact, she was so sad in the beginning of the book that I had trouble reading it. In solving the mystery, she does come out of her shell and begin to live, but it takes about half the book to accomplish her transformation.
The author gives a great deal of attention to the details of life in the small town. The description is good up to a point because it gives a picture of what life is like in the town. However, it goes on relentlessly until I just wanted to get on with solving the mystery.
Maggie is a Christian and finds solace in her religion. If you enjoy Christian fiction, this is a plus, but like the description it can become too much.
For me, the book took too long to get started. I thought the amount of time the author spent setting up the atmosphere was excessive. However, the plot is interesting, and it's difficult to guess who the murderer is.
I received this book from Alibi for this review.