My ratings don't set out to be objective, critical reflections of the book I've read, so upfront, this rating reflects the disparity between myself and the book's primary demographic. I'm too young as yet to really appreciate what this series offers.
Mikki is a 60-something recent widow who pulls up stakes and moves back to her hometown in the Catskills area of New York. Her life is taken up with worries about living on her retirement income while renovating a house; she has hearing aids in both ears, and her closest friend is frequently crippled by her arthritis. This last bit was really the only part I was able to identify with, as my bff has battled psoriatic rheumatism for 3/5ths of her life, and my husband has just been diagnosed with a rarer form of rheumatism in spite of being a sprightly early-forty-something (sorry, that's not coyness; I just don't remember exactly how old he is). Mikki's friend in the book appears to even be on the same medications.
So given this connection, it's not the infirmities that left me feeling too young for this book, but rather the mindset. I don't know if it's always been thus, but at some point each person becomes aware they are 'old' by societal standards. Reactions differ of course, but the one Mikki seems to adopt is a subtle loss of confidence and self-worth. She doesn't quail externally, but her internal dialogue is liberally peppered with retreat, an assumption she won't be believed because of her age, a pervasive sense of impending weakness. This is what I don't identify with and why I failed to connect. I don't think the author set out to create a frail character in any way, but she'd definitely created Mikki to appeal to readers who can relate to those doubts, fears, and adjustments that become necessary to face as time marches on. I'm not there yet.
Unfortunately, the mystery plotting wasn't enough to overcome this for me. It was solid, but nothing spectacular or surprising. Dunnett didn't telegraph much, but her structuring of the story gives the murderer away if a reader has read a superfluous number of mysteries over the years.
Characters are generally pivotal to the plot, or secondary outliers used to fill out the story and the MC's life - it's when a writer creates a character that straddles that line that's a flag; the character that fits neither category is usually the murderer.
Overall, this is not a bad mystery; certainly not a bad first mystery. And I loved the bits about editing. She includes some quick usage rules at the back as a short appendix that is enough to make me want to hang onto my copy of the book. I finally have an easy to remember rule for hung and hanged. But I don't think I'll be continuing with the series. At least, not anytime in the foreseeable future. I still have a lot more growing up to do.