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Monday, 13 January 2020

‘The Silver Foxes’ by Nancy Swing

Published by Park Place Publications,
12 November 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-94388797-2 (PB)

The story opens with the funeral of Suzie Cunningham, which is attended by her friends from the Evergreen Retirement Community, where Suzie had spent the last years of her life. Suzie’s ex-husband, Rodney Cunningham, gives an emotional eulogy, but Suzie’s friends are unconvinced about his sincerity. In fact, a few of them think that Suzie may have been unlawfully killed and Rodney is their chief suspect.

Determined to discover the truth about Suzie’s death, the friends’ band together to investigate. They call themselves the Silver Foxes, because they are grey haired but still keen eyed and full of life. The Silver Foxes have a variety of skills that they bring to their investigation. Alice, a retired Maths professor, has a logical, analytical mind and the ability to lead people. George had been a barrister, Willard an accountant and Trudy is naturally inquisitive but so kind that people open up to her. Charlie, the sports fanatic contributes by encountering and cultivating Rodney’s second, ‘trophy’ wife, the glamorous but sweet-natured, Janice, while they are both out running. Even loud-mouthed, tactless Fred makes his contribution. However, they are cautious about fully trusting the wealthy widow, Anne-Marie, who is close friends with the Cunningham family. As the friends probe deeper into the circumstances surrounding Suzie’s death, the more convinced they are that she could have been murdered, although opinions vary about whether her ex-husband is the villain or one of her two spoiled, entitled daughters. However, everything they discover agrees with Willard’s claim that money is at the root of the matter, specifically the inheritance of Suzie’s family home, Great Oaks, and the land surrounding it.

The Silver Foxes are not the only people who are suspicious about Suzie’s death. Bethanne, the Evergreen Volunteer Coordinator, also has doubts about the truth of the matter, and so does her young friend, Eden, head of the EverTeen branch of volunteers. Mae, another friend of Bethanne, used to babysit for the Cunninghams and has retained links with them. However, Eden’s suspicions are focused on Greg Prendergast, one of the adult volunteers, who had spent an unusual amount of time with Suzie while she was in the Skilled Nursing wing of Evergreen and had angered Eden by encroaching on EverTeen duties. Bethanne realises that Alejandro, the young florist who delivers flowers regularly to Evergreen, witnessed something on the day of Suzie’s death, but before she can get to the root of the matter, Alejandro is forced off of a cliff road by a another car, and killed. The other vehicle does not stop and both the Silver Foxes and Bethanne and friends believe that his death was connected to Suzie’s death.

Despite their increasing grounds for suspicion and the shreds of evidence they accumulate, in the end, it is only when the Silver Foxes and Bethanne’s group of friends start to work together that they have sufficient evidence to take to the sheriff, and even then they cannot be sure that justice will really be done.

The Silver Foxes is the third book in the trilogy of mysteries set in Lewiston, but it works well as a stand-alone novel. There is a large cast of characters, many of whom have back stories in the first two books in the trilogy, and the author shows superb skill in bringing these characters to life, subtly weaving in their backstories and making them easily recognisable individuals to whom it is easy to relate. The plot is straightforward but interesting and the pace is gentle but well maintained. Above all, the central characters are all engaging and beautifully portrayed. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, which I recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Nancy Swing has retired after more than 40 years living and working as an independent consultant on five continents. These international experiences enrich her first novel, a mystery set in Laos, where she lived for two years in the early 1990s. Her characters and situations are a fictional blend of the myriad individuals and events which shaped Nancy’s life in overseas settings as diverse as Guyana, India, Italy, Kazakhstan and Somalia. She and her husband, author Russell Sunshine, currently live on California’s Central Coast with five backyard deer who come and go as they please.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.
To read a review of Carol latest book Strangers and Angels click on the title.

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