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by Cynthia Riggs
St Martin's Minotaur, May 2006
256 pages
ISBN: 0312354762

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Victoria Trumbull is a 92-year-old member of the Martha's Vineyard community. She is something of a busybody but is well-liked by the general populace. Victoria and her granddaughter, Elizabeth, take a walk on the beach. There Victoria witnesses a man fall from near the top of the cliff. By the time help arrives, the man is dead.

The victim was a consultant hired to determine whether the land could support a sewage system for a proposed casino. Several members of the Native American community want the casino for the additional income it would provide but the majority of the town is against this move. When one of Victoria's friends feels threatened and then disappears, Victoria finds herself investigating both the consultant's murder and the proposed casino.

The dead man has two nieces who are in town with the Harley Davidson and Indian Motorcycle Rally. Both of the nieces have possible motives but whether or not they had the means is a different story. As Victoria continues her investigation, more surprises become apparent. If Victoria is not careful, she might be the killer's next victim.

INDIAN PIPES is somewhat difficult to swallow as it has little connection with reality. Victoria is a 92-year-old woman who still takes long walks on the beach and climbs around in barns -- not necessarily willingly but this is still a lot of physical activity for one so old. The community accepts her and seems to treat as though she were a legend. In addition, the police welcome her assistance as she has the ability to find clues they overlook. These stereotypical elements make the plot seem almost cheesy.

While INDIAN PIPES has no basis in reality, there is still something comforting about the small-town coziness apparent in this book. One likes to dream of a safe place where caring people make their community safer for all. One also likes to dream about a world in which the elderly have the ability to overcome their physical weaknesses.

In many ways, Victoria Trumbull is the very embodiment of this ideal world. By reading about her and her adventures, one can distance themselves from the cruelty found outside of this book. This sense of security and serenity go a long way towards explaining the popularity of this series.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, May 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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