Ben Abbott, the realtor with the nose of a shamus (McMansion, 2007, etc.), returns to investigate skullduggery among the dead.
Snooty Newbury, Conn., has been burying people in the village cemetery for 300 years, but this corpse is different. In life it was Brian Grose, slick operator, world-class egotist and owner—better say perpetrator—of a gaudy eyesore of a mausoleum locals have dubbed McTomb. As the result of three well-placed bullets, McTomb is about to be occupied earlier than foreseen. Irked by negative publicity, the trustees of Newbury’s Cemetery Association decide that it’s time for real-estate agent Ben to dust off his private-eye license and do what the police can’t. Given the unpleasant nature of the departed, the list of those eager to see Grose in hallowed ground is predictably long. It includes the husbands of seduced wives, the wives themselves, a selection of chagrined business associates and the cheated Ecuadoran illegal favored by the cops, a man who might have felt an irresistible need for payback. Ben buckles down to sort it all out, but once he does, he realizes something else needs sorting: the question of “what was right and what was wrong”—and what he’s required to do about it.
Wry, witty and garnished with sharply observed local color: Scott at his best.
The well-crafted fifth Ben Abbott whodunit (after 2006's McMansion ) opens on the beautiful summer's day that graces the tercentennial celebration in Newbury, Conn. As members of the town don period costumes to portray people of the past while village residents tour the serene cemetery, recorded classical music suddenly blasts from the large, ostentatious mausoleum nicknamed the “McTomb,” recently erected by real estate developer Brian Grose. When the tomb is opened, its murdered owner is found inside. The Newbury Cemetery Association wastes no time in bringing in Ben Abbott, real estate agent, private detective and ex-con, to solve the case. When an Ecuadorian immigrant unexpectedly becomes the prime suspect, Ben seeks to exonerate him while investigating the many other people who despised Grose and wanted him dead. The intriguing mystery features a cast of fascinating characters and an honest look at the effects of modern ideas and design on a steadfast New England town.