cover image The Grandmother Plot

The Grandmother Plot

Caroline Cooney. Poisoned Pen, $16.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-7282-0515-1

Freddy Bell, the hapless protagonist of this bighearted mystery from Edgar finalist Cooney (Before She Was Helen), has come to Middletown, Conn., to visit his beloved, Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother, Cordelia Chase, who resides at Middletown Memory Care, “assisted living for the completely confused.” Unfortunately, Freddy has unfinished money-laundering business with a drug kingpin, who has sent an enforcer in search of Freddy. Despite the risk of being found by the enforcer, he won’t abandon his beloved grandmother, even though Cordelia no longer remembers who he is. He becomes especially concerned when one of the other residents is murdered, and he winds up an involuntary, in-fear-for-his-own-life sleuth. He’s aided by a woman who’s anxious to protect her own aunt but is also busily pursuing a lost musical manuscript by composer Charles Ives. The author does a remarkable job of combining tones, including sentimental and snarky, while being both wry and gently respectful in depicting mentally diminished people. Cooney should win new fans with this one. Agent: Kerry D’Agostino, Curtis Brown. (July)