SHADES OF MURDER by Ann Granger
A MITCHELL AND MARKBY MYSTERY
St. Martin's Minotaur, October 2001
A century ago, Cora Oakley died in her home--possibly a victim of arsenic poisoning by her husband although he was found not guilty of the murder. Since then, the Oakley family has never had much luck and all that now remains are two elderly sisters, still living in their ancestral home--the home where their grandmother died. The arrival of a supposed cousin, Jan, from Poland, a descendent from the long vanished accused murderer, upsets the Oakley sisters' plans. When he insinuates himself on his cousins, something has to give. The family curse is certain to strike again, but who will be its victims this time?
Author Ann Granger does a fine job describing the motivations of the older sisters and of Meredith Mitchell, neighbor and sometimes investigator as they struggle to deal with Jan. His sudden death by arsenic poisoning solves one problem, but causes far more. Could one of the sisters have murdered their cousin? Could Meredith? Or might the Polish underground have reached out to strike at one who was so clearly familiar with the underside of reality? Unless Meredith and her partner Superintendent Alan Markby can resolve the murder, the sisters' lives are going to be made miserable. Unfortunately, Markby is taken off the case due to personal involvement.
Granger's device of plotting both the trial of the original Oakley and the tribulations of the modern branch of the family works to increase interest and to foreshadow the poetic justice when Jan is killed. In many ways, Jan is his great grandfather, all talk and promise yet with a sociopathic sense of his own importance. Yet the original escaped while Jan is murdered.
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