|Life has been quiet at the Springfield's Luxury Retirement Home in Barrington, almost too quiet, for Ivy Beasley. She and her fiance, Roy Goodman, along with Ivy's cousin Deirdre and retired villager Gus Halfhide, make up Enquire Within, a detective agency that has garnered quite a reputation with the local constabulary in recent months. Ivy's current case is finding shop cat, Posey Moon, which she does in short order.
Now the quartet must sit back and wait for something to happen, which does when Gus's ex-wife Kath shows up pleading for Gus's help and asylum, which she receives from Gus's neighbor Miriam, who fancies herself the next Mrs. Halfhide. Kath disappears and when Miriam and Rose Budd search the woods surrounding the cottage they see a hand that they are certain is attached to a dead body. No body shows up, and neither does Kath, so Ivy and company take the case to see if they can learn why Kath has shown up in Barrington, why she is afraid, what she is hiding and her plans for Gus.
At first, the investigation is a bit slow as there is no real crime, no body, only Kath gone missing, something that doesn't entirely displease Gus. As Ivy begins to look into Kath's recent activities, besides hounding Gus for her alimony, she learns that Kath may have gotten in over her head and may only know one way out.
Ivy and the rest of Enquire Within are pleasant characters, reminiscent of those found in traditional English village cozies. Ivy is cranky to a point, which most likely comes from being in her late seventies, early eighties (depending upon her mood when you ask her). Gus has two women, Deirdre and Miriam, interested in him, though he seems quite content being single and eating the meals they prepare for him. Other shopkeepers and neighbors add to the quiet, sometimes off-beat village.
Though it seems the investigation starts out as a way to pass the time and to keep track of Kath so she doesn't pounce on Gus when he least expects it, it develops well and has several interesting twists and turns along the way. When all is said and done, Gus is offered much closure, and Kath is definitely not going to be a problem for quite a while, which should please is two lady suitors to no end.
--Jennifer Monahan Winberry