"Shake, Murder, and Roll" by Gail Oust
Obsidian, 294 pp., $7.99 (paperback original; also available in large-print edition)
Reviewed by David Marshall James
The dice are flying, the tuna casseroles are bubbling, and the pink and blue hydrangeas are blooming in Serenity Cove Estates (for active seniors) near Brookdale, South Carolina.
Moreover, the resident Garden Club is pleased to present Sheila Rappaport (make that Dr. Sheila), botanist extraordinaire and host of cable TV's "How Does Your Garden Grow?".
Then Dr. Sheila and her partner-in-plants (as well as other endeavors), Vaughn Bascomb, keel over at the program following the banquet in their honor.
How dare Dr. Sheila later attempt to lay the blame for their layovers on good ol' Southern Fried cuisine?
Poor Vaughn: He's about to be planted five feet deeper than his beloved bushes and shrubs.
Not really. Skip the dust; he's headed straight for the ash heap. Cremated, that is.
What, exactly, attacked the botanical duo? Folks around and about Brookdale tend to think food poisoning, but why would only two diners at the Garden Club banquet succumb, if that were truly the case?
Kate McCall, Cabot-- er, Serenity-- Cove's answer to Jessica Fletcher, decides to take on the mystery.
After all, there's only so much Tai Chi, Zumba, golf, and reading to occupy her hours (along with frequent, and frequently ill-timed, telephone calls from her two grown children, both fortunately ensconced in faraway locales).
Lest we forget, there's also Bunco, and the eleven other ladies who belong to Serenity Cove's Bunco Babes.
Every two weeks, they congregate to nosh, imbibe, and shake the dice.
Author Gail Oust rolls out a pleasing premise with her assortment of mostly sixtysomething, Bunco Babes.
The main mystery storyline may not be over-challenging to die-hard connoisseurs of the genre, but it serves as a sturdy-enough framework for a variety of humorous subplots.
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