Late for Square Dancing

The latest Senior Sleuths mystery focuses on Eunice, the abrasive woman who forced her way into the group. It delves into her past — her father told her to laugh at other kids’ jokes and offer an occasional compliment, while her mother encouraged her to accept the first marriage proposal she received, since another wasn’t likely; her late husband enjoyed reminding her of that. So she takes charge of the newest investigation — a missing wife — and shrug responsibility for planning a square dance onto Herman’s shoulders.

Lance’s neighbor, Robert Simmons, reported his wife missing a while back, but there’s been no sign of her, and he mentioned it to Lance in hopes of reactivating the case. He and Marci, as police officers, can’t officially investigate, so they turn it over to the Senior Sleuths.

They prowl the neighborhood, Eunice and Gus presenting themselves as representatives of a local church. Other than gossip, no one garners any information; worse, when they get back to Greener Pastures, Lance and Marci tell them the case is closed and their involvement is over, without explanation. Not that the sleuths accept that — Eunice eventually prods her fellow senior detectives into another neighborhood canvass, but this time when they leave, they find they’re not only being followed, but a gun barrage ensues, peppering Herman’s beloved car with bullet holes.

In between the action, Eunice adopts a stray kitten, but another resident, Pearl, who makes Eunice look meek, grabs Domino while he’s on walkabout and claims him for herself. Having worked with the bossy woman on the barn dance committee, which she resumed at Gus’s suggestion, Eunice resents her, but also respects her sharp elbows, and they reluctantly agree to share him.

And the barn dance is a huge success, themed “The Cat’s Pajamas.” Lance and Marci attend together, inching a little closer romantically now that Marci has been released from rehab and returned home. Eunice worries that this may signal the end of the Senior Sleuths, but Lola is optimistic. Time will tell.

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