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Indian Pipes by Cynthia Riggs
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782240,249 (3.55)8
Victoria Trumbull, ninety-two-year-old native of Martha's Vineyard, is savoring the sea air over Vineyard Sound with her granddaughter, Elizabeth, when she spots a person who seems in trouble near the top of the cliff. Elizabeth goes for help, but it's too late-the man dies before he can be rescued. The man had been hired as a consultant to see whether a site's soil could support a sewage system for a possible casino. The police call it an accident, but his death is just the first in what becomes a series of baffling murders, involving a Harley Davidson and Indian motorcyclists' rally, tribal disputes, squabbling developers, and deeply buried family secrets. Victoria, who was named a deputy police officer after she proved how valuable she was to fighting crime on the Island, is on the case, assisted by her Wampanoag friend Dojan Minnowfish. Her official position is giving her the confidence to take risks that horrify Police Chief Casey O'Neill. But Victoria compensates for her physical limitations by out-thinking the bad guys. As in her previous books in the series, Cynthia Riggs captures the rich and varied setting of Martha's Vineyard-from colorful Gay Head cliffs to the motorcyclists' campground where Indian pipes blossom and die-in this stunning sixth Victoria Trumbull adventure.… (more)



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Victoria Trumbell is a 92 year old living on Martha's Vineyard. She also happens to be a Deputy Police Chief. Her granddaughter, Elizabeth lives with her. Elizabeth and Victoria discover a body one night and this leads to more murders, a case of arson, a motorcycle rally, bribery, embezzlement, kidnapping, and finally Victoria being made an honorary member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head/Azuinnah.

Victoria is a little slower physically than she was in her younger days, but she hasn't slowed down mentally at all. She sounds like a fun lady. It's a good series that I have been meaning to get to and I am glad that I did. ( )
  mysterymax | Apr 29, 2014 |
Indian Pipes is a mystery set on Martha’s Vineyard , featuring a 92-year-old amateur detective named Victoria Trumbull. The mystery surrounds two murders that seem to be related to the attempt of the Wampanoag tribe to build a casino on Martha’s Vineyard . It’s thus a timely mystery, written by Cynthia Riggs in 2006, just before the Massachusetts legislature defeated a bill to permit Indian gaming. The Indians, of course, insist on sovereign immunity from state laws, but the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 gave states powers in this area that they would not normally have.

The book is also an example of what some mystery fans are beginning to call geezer lit: books whose main characters or more specifically whose detectives are senior citizens. Some examples of geezer lit pointed out in a recent AARP Bulletin article are Mike Befeler’s Retirement Homes Are Murder, Parnell Hall’s The Sudoku Puzzle Murders, and Rita Lakin’s Getting Old Is to Die For . I think Michael Dibdin may have anticipated this mystery subgenre in 1993 when he wrote The Dying of the Light, about a murder in an English nursing home and the woman who solves it, who is one of the inmates.

Indian Pipes has good writing and plenty of plot complications. A biker rally is being held the weekend of the book’s action, and one of the murdered men is known to hate bikers, because his favorite niece has a black biker lover. A town engineer who opposes the Indian casino is blackmailing his gay former lover. Riggs likes to defeat conventional expectations: she depicts very strong women characters, clear-headed older folks, and here, the head of the biker rally is a butterfly-loving college professor.

Cynthia Riggs titles her book with the names of plants, I suppose because her detective, Victoria Trumbull, is a gardener. The Indian Pipes of this book, her sixth in this series, are flowers rather than ceremonial peace pipes, and her other books have titles such as The Paperwhite Narcissus and, perhaps inevitably, Deadly Nightshade, which was Riggs’s first book.

Victoria solves this one by laying a trap for the killer, after enlisting the aid of the younger woman who’s the village police chief and of a fisherman who is a member of the Wampanoag Tribe. When I imagine Victoria , she looks like my 93-year-old mother-in-law, who’s lost some short-term memory, but who still has all her mental chops. I suspect that Cynthia Riggs calculates that all her readers will have a sharp nonagenarian to cast as her detective when they replay the plot in their minds’ eye ( )
  michaelm42071 | Sep 7, 2009 |
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The fog poured in from Vineyard Sound, driven by a northwest wind that whipped it up the steep clay cliffs, streamers of denseness interspersed with open patches.
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