The tenth book in the Charlotte Diamond mystery series takes retired FBI agent Charlotte Diamond, and her spouse, movie star Brenda Brandon/Boynton, to an aging mountaintop palace in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Their late summer foursome vacation plans to bask on Hilton Head Island with Charlotte’s brother, Williamsburg physician Chance Diamond, and his Methodist minister wife, Marilyn, are scotched by an approaching hurricane. And Charlotte becomes embroiled in the reopening of the drug distribution operation she encountered in the last book in the series, Follow the Palm. Before plans can be made on a substitute vacation, an unwelcome college mate of Charlotte and Marilyn’s, Regina Fowler, stumbles in to beg Charlotte to come up to the ancestral home, Fowler’s Folly, she owns with two cousins, to stop a drug operation, dramatically dropping a cocaine packet with the same logo on it as in the case Charlotte thought had just been solved.
Once arriving at Fowler’s Folly and stuck there because the hurricane they were avoiding in Hilton Head veered to the Blue Ridge Mountains instead, Charlotte and family are guided by a clairvoyant into uncovering multiple mysteries.
Charlotte and the dogs were outside, Charlotte looking at newly dug flower beds on the western side of the house. Sam and Rocket were snuffling around, having taken a whiff of one of Regina’s scarves, but they weren’t showing interest in the house foundation, wanting to pull Charlotte away from there. The sound of a shot, though, redirected their attention as well as Charlotte’s. Before the second one sounded, they were all racing for the woods, where the sound of the shots had come from. Charlotte, not a marathon runner even in her best year, freed the dogs to race on ahead of her. Her training clicking in, her eyes scanned the tree line of the forest from one end to the other.
She saw three things in quick succession: the hint of a figure lurking around the ruins of the replica house but quickly disappearing; Rupert Fowler stumbling out of the tree line at a good distance to the north, not far from the ruins of the smaller house; and Samantha striding out of the woods straight ahead of Charlotte, from the direction Charlotte judged the shots to have sounded. After scanning the field, Charlotte’s eyes went back to lock on Rupert, who had a hunting rifle nestled in the crook of his arm and a brace of rabbits dangling from one of his hands.
She kept her eyes on the rifle, prepared to hit the turf if he raised it, but he didn’t. Even from this distance he looked slightly bemused.
Sam and Rocket raced right on by Samantha as the woman bore down on Charlotte and into the woods.
“Where did those shots come from?” Charlotte called out as Samantha came close.
Samantha was looking cool. She swiveled her head to the north and inclined her head. “It looks like Rupert again has shot game that no one in the house will want to see on the table.”
“Where’s Brenda? She was with you.”