'My favourite American crime-writer' New York Herald Tribune
In the quiet suburb of Santa Monica, eighty-eight-year-old Mabel Foster loses her husband to a stroke. Rather than move Mabel into a retirement home, the neighbours hire Josephine Slaney to take care of her. The immense nurse is a godsend, the cost of her help is a bargain.
Soon it becomes clear, however, that all is not right with Josephine. Mrs Foster, once bright and alert, falls quickly into a torpor and retreats into seclusion at Josephine's command. It is up to detective Dan Valentine to uncover a strange, lethal pattern among Josephine's former patients, and the race is on to stop her before she can strike again.
The publication of this recently discovered manuscript must have Shannon (who died in 1988) turning in her grave; it isn't up to the usual high standards of the veteran police procedural author ( Destiny of Death , etc.). A full-time nurse moves in to care for the elderly Fosters after Mr. Foster has a stroke, but Brenda Sheldon, their 27-year-old neighbor in southern California, becomes suspicious after Clyde Foster dies and his wife sign power-of-attorney privileges over to the nurse, who promptly puts their home up for sale. Informed of Brenda's misgivings, Santa Monica police sergeant Daniel Valentine deploys his men to look into the matter, even though he has no reason to suspect foul play. The detectives discover a chain of questionable deaths involving senior citizens the nurse has cared for, but can't find enough evidence to justify her arrest. Although the subject of older people in jeopardy has emotional power, readers won't believe that the men in blue would doggedly examine this extremely tenuous situation--a case that is finally resolved only through trickery. ( July )