Victoria Trumbull is a spry ninety-two year old woman who
lives on Martha's Vineyard year round. She has more energy
than most people half her age, goes hiking, writes poetry
and reads to the residents of the retirement home.
One of Victoria's neighbors, Phoebe Eldridge, has just sold
her home and land to another Martha's Vineland resident,
Harry Ness. While hiking Victoria discovers the murdered
body of the lawyer who represented both parties in the
property sale. Many different interest groups offer to buy
the land from Ness but he refuses to sell it to anyone
because he intends to build an exclusive $180 million
dollar luxury community. When Harry is found murdered
every person who wanted to buy the land is considered a
suspect and Victoria decides it is her job to bring the
killer to Justice.
The heroine of THE CRANEFLY ORCHID MURDERS makes this
mystery novel very special. It's great reading about an
elderly woman who has all her faculties while solving
crimes, hiking and being creative. Victoria comes across
as very believable and will appeal to readers of all ages.
Thanks to Cynthia Riggs' colorful descriptions, the real
Martha's Vineyard comes alive to readers who will feel as
if they vacationed there.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted April 10, 2002
In her first book, Deadly Nightshade, Cynthia Riggs
introduced us to one of fiction's most delightful - and
most realistic - "circumstantial detectives" - an ordinary
civilian whom circumstances thrust into the role of sleuth.
Victoria Trumbull is as believable a feisty 92-year-old as
you can imagine, with all the expected aches and pains and
a refusal to let them stop her from enjoying her
A native of the Massachusetts island called Martha's
Vineyard, whose ancestors sailed from its shores
generations back, Victoria knows more about the island and
its people, then and now, than anyone else living. The
knowledge has helped her solve one murder and earn her own
baseball cap emblazoned with "West Tisbury Police Deputy,"
and the job that goes with it.
Of course she knows Phoebe Eldridge; a short-tempered woman
who lives alone, dislikes her granddaughter intensely and
won't even mention the name of her son, a Vietnam vet who
disappeared some years before. It's Phoebe's rancor as much
as any desire for money that leads her to sell the family
land to a developer who comes up with what seems like an
offer she doesn't want to resist.
The Conservation Trust enlists Victoria, as someone who
will not be suspected, to search that land for an
endangered plant, any endangered plant, because the state
prohibits bulldozing rare plant habitats. Victoria is
delighted to add another purpose to her daily walks. She
enlists an eleven-year-old after-school assistant, and with
the "Endangered" list in her hand, she begins her search.
Her first find, though, is the body of one Montgomery
Mausz, the developer's rather dubious attorney.
There are plenty of suspects, but deputy Victoria (don't
dare say "honorary deputy" to Victoria's face) hasn't
forgotten her first task and is rewarded by the discovery
of a little nest of cranefly orchids, which puzzle Victoria
by appearing to change shape. In the course of this
botanical detection, Victoria and her assistant are treated
to adventures that delight the 92-year-old as much as the
pre-teen, even though they give both of them more scares
than they had bargained for.
This charming story, with its share of thrills and
suspense, will have readers crossing their fingers and
hoping the sea air, home-baked beans, and a vital interest
in what goes on around her will keep old Victoria Trumbull
going for a long, long time.