I keep picking up the latest in series that I love only to be met with the "Writing off" of characters I love. In this case: the Pym sisters. That's right - I spoiled this one right off the bat. But it happens in the first chapter and their impending departure is the catalyst for Lori's trip to New Zealand: their deathbed request of her is that she deliver a letter to their estranged nephew - son of their only brother who was cast out of the family when the twins were small children.
Lori, being married to an Estate lawyer, packs her bags and takes a very long plane ride. The story is set during the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which features minorly into the plot. Additionally, she has a native guide and meets many more interesting characters (a refreshing change from the familiar faces of Finch, although they have their appearances as well.) It turns out that Aubrey, Jr, (nephew) has passed away. As has his son, leaving Lori to track down an eighteen-year-old great-grandniece as she runs away from her troubles across the island.
I'll tell you that I read this with enthusiasm: will Lori catch up with Bree? Why is her native guide so eager to help her? When can I book my own trip to New Zealand?
All in all, it was a satisfying read...and no, you do not have to have read the previous installments to enjoy this one. But it certainly adds a layer of heart-string tugging when you've encountered the Pyms sisters 14 previous times and now they have passed away to the realm of Aunt Dimity herself.