Living in a small town in North Wales, Canadian ex-pat Penny Brannigan enjoys an uneventful, but satisfying life, busy with her nail salon and an active interest in painting. Having recently lost her best friend, Penny is still grieving. Gathering the necessary tools from her nail salon, it is not surprising when Penny arrives at the funeral parlor to give her friend, Emma, one last manicure. Penny's nail salon is a hub of social gossip, especially with regular visits from the town busybody. But Penny becomes a more critical player in the town's drama when a bride goes missing before her wedding. A Londoner, Meg Wynne Thompson has planned to wed a wealthy local landowner's son, Emyr Gryffudd, in a formal afternoon ceremony. Penny is the last person to see the bride on the Saturday morning of the wedding; after her manicure, the bride-to-be leaves the shop and is not seen again.
Everyone gathered at the church, the wedding party is disbanded, guests and participants at a loss for an explanation, although foul play is certainly considered. Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Davies is called in to head the investigation. Interviewing Penny as the last person to see Meg Wynne the morning of the wedding, Davies is unexpectedly charmed. Warming to his attentions, Penny becomes more intrigued with the fate of the disappeared bride and more interested than she will admit in the detective. The tale unfolds in a blend of romance and mystery, Penny collaborating with her latest acquaintance, harpist Victoria Hopkirk. The two middle-aged women engage in some amateur sleuthing that actually bears fruit, but in their enthusiasm, the ladies are careless of their own safety. Of course, the amateurs also attract the notice of the culprit. When Meg Wynne's body is discovered- thanks to Penny's intuition- DCI Davies has good reason to worry about her safety,
A light tale that focuses as much on personalities and idiosyncrasies as the crime, the author captures the intimacies of small town life in the aftershock of unexpected events. There is no shortage of suspects to choose from, or eccentric characters, from the bride's alcoholic father to the stunned groom, not to mention the voluble Mrs. Lloyd, a regular visitor at Happy Hands Nail Care. Duncan has created a charming mix of incipient middle-aged romance and mystery, tea and sympathy, spiced with a touch of "Murder She Wrote". Luan Gaines/2009.