Bones of Contention
Poisoned Pen, Jun 2010, $24.95
Cleon Dobbs has had three wives and a zillion unwanted offspring. However, when he learns he is dying from cancer, he decides to bring the entire brood including a "niece" Dinah Pelerin together at a remote run down Northern Territory, Australian lodge while he draws up his last will one paragraph at a time.
However, the final hurrah turns nasty when a journalist who knows about Cleon is murdered followed by Cleon's doctor who was here to help him commit suicide. His named heirs and offended cut outs resent he was not the corpse. Cleon goes too far when he leaves to Dinah his two Winslow Homer watercolors. Although she just wants to learn more about her father, she thinks something is not right about the paintings. When another heir arrives claiming to be a long lost son, the pot boils over as payback has become the prime Bones of Contention, but by whom.
This is a terrific Australian family mystery filled with deadly twists including a great climax. The setting and eccentric cast refresh the family feud inheritance theme as readers will relish the Down Under manipulations of Cleon while wondering what next will happen amidst the dysfunctional who compete for a paragraph.