Jack in the Pulpit by Cynthia Riggs

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There's more than one reason the new West Tisbury police chief officially made 92-year old Victoria Trumbull her deputy. For one thing, Victoria knows just about everything about everyone in town, and a lot about the rest of the Martha's Vineyard year-round population as well. Not to mention their ancestors. Victoria may be afflicted with the usual aches and pains that descend on nonagenarians (she has a cutoff shoe to accommodate her bunion, and a stout stick to help her on her walks across the fields and in the woods). But she is as sharp and as sharpeyed as the proverbial tack. So it's not odd that when Victoria is the only one who notices something amiss among the gravestones of the West Tisbury cemetery, the chief listens.

Something is indeed amiss. Responding to a request by presumed relatives in the Midwest to disinter a coffin for reburying elsewhere, things go wrong from the start. The driver of the hearse coming to collect the coffin disappears during the Island ferry trip in a rainstorm. Other deaths - some of them irrefutably murder, the others suspicious - follow. And when as a last measure the coffin is found, dug up and opened, it does not contain the expected body. Insult upon injury, the coffin itself disappears.

Meanwhile, the available for rent bedroom in Victoria's house has been taken over by a woman relative of one of their neighbors and her raucous toucan, a bird as spoiled as the most bratty millionaire's heir. Victoria is graceful about her unwanted boarders; but they do interfere with the column she writes for the local newspaper and with her efforts to discover whether the strange antics of the coffin are related to the murders.

Victoria is the most realistic and the most delightful nonagenarian in mystery fiction. Her years have not blunted her intelligence and her sharp wit. We're lucky that she's still around and seems to be set for a long time.

About Cynthia Riggs

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Cynthia Riggs, a thirteenth generation Islander, lives on Martha's Vineyard in her family homestead, which she runs as a bed-and-breakfast catering to poets and writers. She has a degree in geology from Antioch College and an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College and holds a U.S. Coast Guard Masters License (100-ton). This is her third published mystery.
Published June 1, 2004 by Minotaur Books. 224 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Then Victoria Trumbull’s aging cousin Edna feeds her pet seagull Frederick some tainted bluefish, and within hours Victoria is conducting an avian autopsy that turns up poison mushroom tidbits.

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Publishers Weekly

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In Riggs's absorbing fourth Vineyard mystery (after 2003's Cemetery Yew ), Victoria Trumbull, the wise and sprightly nonagenarian island native, is caught in the middle of a jealous battle between the new minister and the retiring minister (both named Jack) at the community church.

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Reviewing the Evidence

The town of West Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard is torn apart by a feud between the retired minister of the local Congregational Church, John Hutchinson and his successor, Reverend Milton Jackson.

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The Best Reviews

Other deaths - some of them irrefutably murder, the others .

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