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Mystery Reviews
Buried Bones 
by Carolyn Haines 
Bantam Books, 2000
ISBN: 0-5535-81724

"It was like some bad parody of the South. All I needed was August humidity, kudzu, a 
run-down plantation, and a heroine of virginal innocence. Hell, I had all of it—except the 
virginal innocence. Which I wasn't certain was actually a necessary ingredient anyway. 
Faulkner managed without it." 

                                  — Sarah Booth Delaney 

You can remove your tongue from your cheek now, Carolyn. I just finished reading Buried Bones. It wasn't a bad parody at all. It was delightful. It was challenging. It! After such a wickedly enjoyable romp through Them Bones (the first of the Bones 
mysteries), I expected nothing less. 

Now, put on your thinking caps, mystery solvers. The setting is Zinnia, Mississippi, a small town in the Mississippi Delta. Sarah Booth Delaney, our romantically-challenged heroine, is introduced to Lawrence Ambrose, the famed Mississippi writer-artist who years earlier 
took the Parisian world of letters by storm. 

The elderly Ambrose has returned to his Mississippi home to share his life story. Regrettably, Ambrose has more than a few skeletons in his colorful past—skeletons 
that many wish to keep buried. 

Enter Brianna Rathbone, a dazzling Zinnia native who earned fame and fortune as a New York super-model. To capitalize on Brianna's celebrity and her connections to the New York publishing world, Lawrence Ambrose announces that Ms. Rathbone will be the author of his soon-to-be-published biography. Never mind that she has never written or published a book before. Ambrose has ghost-written his own book, you see, and will have 
Brianna publish his manuscript under her name. 

But alas, that's where the trouble begins. After a party announcing the intended publication of his book, Lawrence Ambrose is found dead. At first, his death appears accidental, but we all know better than that, eh?  What's more, Lawrence's controversial manuscript is missing. Obviously, someone wants to keep Lawrence's sordid secrets buried. 

Enter our heroine, Sarah Booth Delaney. Since Sarah Booth did such a masterful job of solving Them Bones, she is now hired to find Lawrence Ambrose's murderer—and his tell-all manuscript. 

Without delay, Sarah Booth starts digging. And the more she digs, the more suspect many of her acquaintances become. 

Was Lawrence Ambrose murdered by the lovely Brianna Rathbone? We find out that Ambrose double-crossed Brianna soon after his manuscript was finished. Brianna is Bones' obvious suspect. 

Was Ambrose murdered by Harold Erkwell, Zinnia's eligible bachelor-banker (and one of Sarah Booth's on-again-off-again hearthrobs). Harold's fingerprints were found on the poison in Ambrose's home. 

Did prima ballerina and lifelong friend Madame Rosalyn Bell kill Ambrose? Her fingerprints were found on the poison too. 

Or perhaps Willem Arquillo, the suave Latin artist whose seductive yet shady con-man escapades precede him. 

But the plot thickens. Ambrose's literary antagonist, Dean Joseph Grace turns up dead. We also discover that Senator Jebediah Archer's son was murdered at nearby Moon Lake. We then find out that Harold's Aunt Lenore committed suicide after the tragic Moon Lake 
incident—or was she murdered too? 

One might hope that Jitty, Sarah Booth's outspoken family ghost, might be able to shed some light on all this. But Jitty, it seems, is more concerned with Sarah Booth's sex life and romantic reputation—"as pure as the driven slush," as Tallulah Bankhead once said. 

But let's return to matters at hand. Who killed Lawrence Ambrose? More importantly, what true life character(s) provided inspiration for Carolyn's fiction? 

Ha!!! You don't get off that easy! I sha'n't tell you that! You'll have to read Buried Bones and investigate all this yourself. Draw your own conclusions before turning Bones' final pages. After all, that's what a good mystery is all about, eh? 

Joe Sackett 
Southern Scribe Reviews