cover image Ruffles Feathers

Ruffles Feathers

Taylor McCafferty. Pocket Books, $4.5 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-671-72803-8

For private eye Haskell Blevins of Pigeon Fork, Kentucky, an anonymous threat to kidnap the daughter of poultry king Jacob Vandeventer results in a murder case. While Blevins guards daughter Priscilla, Jacob is conked on the head with a statue of a chicken, then stabbed to death. Blevins must sort through a roster of suspects, including the victim's vapid son and his affected, obnoxious wife; his tawdry widow; his spacey but sweet ex-wife; and the acid-tongued Priscilla. Although the identity of the killer is ultimately predictable, McCafferty ( Pet Peeves ) writes skillfully. Blevins's narrative voice is convincing, and she manages to avoid the trap of i've stetted/pk building humorous character solely through lumping together a bunch of idiosyncracies. The dialogue develops both plot and character; the scene where the social-climbing daughter-in-law demands proof that Jacob is dead is a virtuoso turn. McCafferty yet needs to integrate her humor with the escalationpk of tension, but she still has produced here an original comic mystery. (May)