Barbara Paul is both a wonderful and wonderfully-inventive writer. My own particular favorites of her large list of books are the ones featuring the operatic soprano/part-time detective Emmy Destin, with a little help from Enrico Caruso and other such notable luminaries of the time.
The books in which she incorporates her theatre background would stand out for that reason alone, (to me, at least) even if they didn't possess all the other star qualities necessary to produce a first-rate, entertaining book.
This quirky book is no exception, with former stage director Gillian Clifford, now a theatre-museum director, as the main protagonist. In her younger days, she had been married, all-too-briefly, to Stuart Decker, younger brother of the renowned venture capitalist Raymond. Stuart was the victim of a hit-and-run driver. The male Deckers, along with twin sisters, Michelle and Annette, comprise the current generation of a Boston family, which will immediately bring to mind other noted New England families, in more than one respect.
Raymond and his wife Connie, had one son, Theo; Annette, married to Tom Henry, a son, Ike; Michelle, married to Rob Kurland, Raymond's partner, had two sons, Bobby and Joel. Uncle Oscar and Aunt Elinor Ferguson had a daughter, Lynn. Theo had been the first to die, some years earlier, during a botched kidnapping attempt. But now, just in the last three months, Ike, Bobby and Lynn had all died, too, in apparent accidents. The final death was Raymond himself, in a fire at his home on Martha's Vineyard. "Whom the gods smile upon . . ."
While reading her Chicago newspaper, Gillian stumbles over the death notice for Raymond, and is compelled to travel to Boston, to re-visit the family of which she was once a member. The family, however, thinks differently. Once a Decker, always a Decker. In many more ways than one, it would appear.
Connie thinks Raymond was murdered, and in a short time, convinces Gillian to agree with her. From then on, it's no holds barred, as Gillian allies herself first with one, then another of the Deckers to get to the bottom of this murderous marry-go-round. Delicious!