St. Martin's, Nov 2002, 23.95, 256 pp.
Married for three months, Oliver, Indiana Detective Lieutenant Fred Lundquist and his second wife Joan, mother of two grown children and director of a senior center, head to his hometown of Bishop Hill so she can meet his parents for the first time. As they travel to Northern Illinois, Fred's mother Helga, suffering from Alzheimer's, strays away from her home right into the homicide of a neighbor's son.
Fred, Joan, and her college-age son Andrew are shocked by how poor Helga's short term memory is which includes not knowing where she lives or how ends up in various locales. The culprit begins harassing Helga to starting with threats over the phone. As the hamlet gets ready for Christmas, fearing for her mother-in-law more from a killer who drifts in and out of Helga's memory than Alzheimer's, Joan struggles to identify the culprit before he harms her or anyone else.
WITNESS IN BISHOP HILL is a strong Joan entry though her identification of the killer seems somewhat miraculous. The story line contains an engaging blend of elements of an amateur sleuth and to a lesser degree police procedural with Swedish Yuletide trimming to brighten up the fare. However, Sara Hoskinson Frommer's latest cozy belongs to Helga, who is handled with compassion so that Alzheimer's victims and their families (including this reviewer's beloved late mother-in-law know how much Ms. Frommer cares).
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner