Germany, 1944; Chickasaw, Florida, present day
The book opens with a chapter entitled Marlina. The chapters are not numbered, only named, and this functions as a prologue, set seventy years before the main action of the story.
Marlina is a nurse in a German military hospital which is now behind enemy lines. She saves a little boy's life when the only remaining doctor declares him dead. But she has some help in the form of a miraculous metal cone (of extra-terrestrial origin, or so the author implies). She does not know this, but she does take the cone with her when, dressed up as a nun by a helpful priest, she abandons her post and sets out on foot with the boy, heading into the unknown.
Forward 70 years. Angela Fleetwood is a cancer survivor whose husband, Walt, originally brought her to Chickasaw to die. Instead, she recovered, and he died. She believes he was murdered, and this is confirmed in her mind when a neighbour of theirs drowns in her bath and the Sheriff declares that, too, an accident, though Angela is quite sure it was no such thing. Especially as the neighbour, known to be an old woman, proved to have the body of a fit young woman. Her hair, too, was the hair of a young woman; it had been died grey.
Angela must be one of the most original amateur sleuths to hit the bookshelves (or rather Kindle). I loved her. And I loved her bizarre collection of neighbours and supporters.
I shan't forget this story or these characters, and that for me is one of the basic criteria for Five Stars