Main Character: Ivy Malone – a spunky BLOL (busybody little old lady) who can't help but try to find out why things happen to people she knows because her "mutant curiosity gene" kicks in whenever the proper authorities don't seem to be taking her seriously.
Plot: The cemetery on the hill has tombstones vandalized and even tipped over frequently. The nice renter in her best friend's basement goes missing. A body is found in the river up the way, but the name doesn't match the renter. In fact, the hair has been dyed and the renter's name is a lady who died two years ago.
Ivy's solution: 1. Stake out the cemetery at night with Snickers and Cola to catch the vandals and try to write down their license plate to help the authorities find them. 2. Start a group at church to raise money to fix up the cemetery. 3. Try to track down who the nice lady renter was using the information on her rental form & any other tidbits she can find, calling people and travelling to different states to talk to people who may or may not have known her, disarming them with her Little Old Lady charm.
Of course, things are never as simple as they seem. Nosy neighbors are trying to set her up with eligible bachelors, her best friend's health is deteriorating, her own matchmaking efforts with the young policeman on the case seem to be going awry, and someone breaks into her house, leaving nasty messages on her wall to scare her into minding her own business (which, of course, never works).
Compounding these problems is the interesting phenomenon of Ivy's increasing "invisibility". She finds people just don't see her – they dismiss her like people used to dismiss servants. They say all sorts of things in her hearing that they normally wouldn't let people hear. They run into her when walking on the street. They dismiss her as "just a little old lady" and go about their business, totally ignoring her. At first Ivy finds this very disturbing. Then she realizes what an advantage it gives her in her investigations.
This aspect, in fact, is one of the most charming aspects of the book. Ivy is a real person. She deals with real issues any 75 year old woman deals with. Her husband passed years ago. She's not pleased with her current too large church which used to be smaller and made her feel at home. Her friends are sometimes in seriously ill health. Her niece is constantly pleading for her to move in with the family. She meets older men in her investigations who start asking her out, and she's not sure she wants a romance, but maybe it would be fun.
One warning to those who are offended by Christianity: Ivy is a Christian and as such tries to get the young detective to come to church with her. She quotes scripture sometimes. It's not over-the-top preachy. In fact, it fits very well with her character and the story. She even has occasional religious discussions with her "romances" about why they do or don't believe. I found the religion aspect of this book to be very believable, not overpowering, and I would say well worth a very good, twisty, murder mystery that kept me guessing (which is not easy to do).
I'll definitely be checking out more of Ivy Malone. She now feels like one of my mom's friends and I want to hear more about her life and how she handles the ups and downs.