Laura Fleming and her husband Richard are very surprised when Burt Walters drops by their Boston apartment. Burt, who is from Lauras hometown in North Carolina, is the son of the local mill owner there, where most of the town, including Lauras family, is employed.

Burts father wants to sell the mill to Bostonians Marshall and Grace Saunders. Burt is against it and hopes Laura will dig up information on the Saundersessomething to convince his dad not to sell. Laura and Richard journey to Byerly, where they are warmly welcomed by Lauras large and eccentric family.

However, theres a feud in progressthe relatives are divided about whether the mill should be sold, with neither side of the family speaking to the other. Also, Lauras obstinate cousin Linwood is the chief suspect in a series of suspicious fires in town, so when Marshall Saunders is killed in a fire, Linwood is targeted. Lauras family has produced some true oddballs but never a murderer, so now she has to find the real killer to prove Linwoods innocence.

DEATH OF A DAMN YANKEE is as refreshing as an iced tea on a hot summer day. The puzzle is well-plottedwith several well-placed cluesand Lauras family is so delightfully nutty theyll tickle you pink. (Oct., 320 pp., $5.99—Hardcover published August 1999)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg