The historic New England village of Dorset has actually elected a living, breathing woman as its First Selectman. And now she's about to undertake the Historic District's biggest public works project in a generation–the widening and re-grading of Dorset Street. The job has needed doing for ages but the previous First Selectman, Bob Paffin, always opposed it. So did a lot of Dorset's blue-blooded old guard.
The long put-off dig uncovers a body buried underneath the pavement in front of the Congregational Church. It belongs to Lt. Lance Paffin, Bob Paffin's older brother, a dashing U.S. Navy flyer who went missing off his sailboat the night of the country club's spring dance more than forty years ago. Everyone had assumed he just left town. But now it's clear Lance has been under Dorset Street this whole time, and that he was murdered.
Des and Mitch soon discover that there are deep, dark secrets surrounding Dorset's elite, and some very distinguished careers have been built on lies. The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb is the tenth in David Handler's original and very funny Berger and Mitry mystery series featuring this engaging biracial couple.
In Edgar-winner Handler's warm and cozy 10th mystery featuring movie critic Mitch Berger and Master Sgt. Des Mitry, resident state trooper of Dorset, Conn. (after 2012's The Snow White Christmas Cookie), the plan of newly elected selectwoman Glynis Fairchild-Forniaux to widen and regrade Dorset's main street upsets a lot of people, including newspaper publisher Clyde "Buzzy" Shaver and former selectman Bob Paffin. When the road work unearths a long-buried corpse, the project grinds to a halt and Mitry's job heats up. The body is easily identified as Bob Paffin's older brother, Lance, missing and presumed dead since 1967. Mitry and Berger have to penetrate a code of silence that involves many of Dorset's leading citizens, among whom are U.S. Congressman Luke Cahoon, Paffin, Shaver, and numerous women wronged by Lance. The affable Burger mines town gossip, and Mitry digs into some sordid town history en route to the satisfying resolution of the murder case.