Susan Donovan, one of San Francisco's finest, was a semi-hard-bitten cynic about men--until she went to a police convention and Daniel Wren "happened to her." Quickly and somewhat to her amazement, she became Susan Wren, wife of the poice chief in the tiny Kansas town of Hampstead. Then, on a cold winter morning shortly after the wedding, she finds herself Susan Wren, widow: Daniel has been murdered.
So begins Charlene Weir's The Winter Widow, winner of the St. Martin's Press/Macmillan London "Malice Domestic" contest for Best First Traditional Mystery, an absorbing mystery about a woman out of her element. Although she has no ties to Hampstead, and there is no reason for her not to return to California, as her father urges, Susan has other ideas. She is determined to find Daniel's killer. It takes all her powers of persuasion to win over a reluctant mayor, but in the end he grudgingly agrees. As acting police chief, Susan begins the hunt.
Soon she finds she needs those powers to persuade herself that she knows what she is doing. She can deal with the town's almost unanimous hostility toward a woman police chief, an outsider from the big city. She can cope--because she must--with further killings. But nine years as a cop on San Francisco's streets haven't equipped her to handle the escape of a truckload of pigs on Hampstead's main drag, a rampaging prize bull, or the agricultural intrigue she encounters. And all the while, the killer is closing in on Susan herself, determined to keep her from learning the truth about her beloved Daniel's tragic death.