Ivy Malone is a LOL. A little old lady. She’s a widow who has discovered that her social staus as a LOL renders her mostly invisible. She is ignored in shops and even discovers that she can slip into a Post Office queue without anyone batting an eyelid.
Following the death of her old friend, she decides to investigate the desecration of several tombstones in her local cemetery, rationalising that her relative invisibility will be a bonus in investigations.
Then, the lodger in her friend’s basement, Kendra, disappears and Ivy suspects that she may be the body that was found recently in a river.
Ivy, finding the police investigation to be running slow, decides to carry out her own enquiries.
It’s a very enjoyable and amusing read. McCourtney has created some memorable characters and the narrative rattles quickly along. There’s a nice balance between humour and drama and she paints a vivid picture of life in Missouri.
It has to be said that the heavy emphasis on Ivy’s Christianity was a bit wearing. I’ve checked some other reviews and it does come to something when even her Christian readers are complaining that there is a tad too much God in it. It’s counter-productive in fact, since one is tempted to skip the passages where Ivy is rambling on about having accepted Jesus into her life. If Jesus is in her life, he must be getting a bit tired of it too, or may have invested in some earplugs.
One could argue that the first person narrative here needs that because Ivy is a devout Christian. We have had religious detectives before, such as Father Brown and the vicar from Grantchester, but the religious element, although present, seldom intrudes unless there us a conflict of conscience of some sort. It’s over-egging the Jesus pudding, frankly.
At one point Ivy is ‘fixed up’ for want of a better phrase, on a date with Mac, a travelling reporter. He is the one character (apart from the criminals, who are obviously evil and ungodly) that comes nearest to being a challenge to Ivy’s beliefs. This isn’t explored fully enough. If Mac had been an out and out atheist it would have made for a far more interesting relationship and provided a different viewpoint.
The ending is a little ambiguous, leaving us to want to read the next installment. I think I will. I quite enjoyed this visit to Missouri and Arkansas and think I would get on with Ivy quite well, as long as she keeps the godbothering to a bare minimum.