Things in the town of Stone's Throw, South Carolina, rarely get much spicier than the extra red pepper Lucy Nan Pilgrim sprinkles into her homemade cheese straws. So when an elderly but surprisingly childlike woman calling herself Shirley shows up on Lucy's doorstep looking for her mama, Lucy thinks it must be another of her friend Ellis's pranks. But Ellis doesn't know a thing about it, and what's more, the two suspect the woman might be Ellis's cousin, Florence, who disappeared as a child more than fifty years earlier.
When the mysterious woman vanishes from Lucy's house, she and Ellis don't know what to think. And considering that Calpernia Hemphill, the town's theater and music aficionado, has just been found dead of an apparent fall from the tower at Bertram's Folly, life in Stone's Throw suddenly seems less safe than sinister.
Luckily, guardian angel Augusta Goodnight shows up to calm Lucy's nerves (with a basket of strawberry muffins, of course). And not a moment too soon, because Shirley/Florence is found dead at the bottom of a steep flight of steps in the parking lot behind the Methodist church.
She is not the last victim, and Ellis, whose inheritance could be threatened by the reappearance of her long-lost cousin, remains the number-one suspect. Augusta, Lucy, and the Thursday Morning Literary Society (which now meets on Monday afternoons) must use their heads---and a little bit of home cooking---to solve the mystery.