Mystery Reviews  

Them Bones
by Carolyn Haines
Bantam, 1999
ISBN:  0553581716 

Sarah Booth Delaney is unwed, unemployed, and down on her luck. The last of the Delaney family, she is the sole surviving heir of Dahlia House—a once thriving Mississippi antebellum plantation that has since fallen to rack and ruin. To make matters worse, overdue bank notes have put Dahlia House on the brink of foreclosure.

My, my, my. What is a woman to do?

Kidnap her rich friend Tinkie’s dog and hold the pooch for ransom, that’s what. Not a gallant course of action, I’ll admit. Nonetheless, Sarah Booth’s ignoble deed is what sets Them Bones plot in motion.

Unexpectedly, Tinkie asks Sarah Booth to help find her dog. Since Sarah Booth is the one who kidnapped frou-frou in the first place, she returns Tinkie’s dog in record time, while pocketing the ransom money and collecting Tinkie’s finder’s fee.

Convinced that Sarah Booth has the makings of a resourceful private investigator, Tinkie hires her yet again to investigate a sequence of fatal “accidents” that occurred more than twenty years ago. Follow closely here...

— Over the years, folks in and around the tiny town of Zinnia, Mississippi suspected that wealthy plantation owner Hamilton Garret IV’s death was not a hunting accident at all. In all likelihood, he was murdered by his wife, Veronica Garret.

— Over the years, folks suspected that Veronica Garret’s fatal car accident was not an accident at all. In all likelihood, she was murdered by her revengeful son, Hamilton Garret V (who also poses as the tall, dark, handsome, brooding, and mysterious expatriated hunk who is, of course, at the center of Zinnia’s love triangles).

— Over the years, folks suspected that the investigating sheriff did not accidentally drive himself off the side of a bridge. In all likelihood, his death was part of the elaborate cover-up.

So? Who done it?

That’s for me to know and you to find out.

Although Carolyn Haines has written 28 novels, Bones is Carolyn’s first foray into the world of murder mysteries. Of course we all knew Carolyn would throw in a pinch of Southern social satire and a dose of comedic romance. Include a bit of ethereal whimsy (Sarah Booth’s personal advisor is Dahlia House’s resident ghost) and we wind up with a tightly knit suspenseful and humorous page-turner that is fun to read.

What’s next? Good question.

Buried Bones, the second of Carolyn’s three-book mystery deal with Bantam Books, will be out next year. Bones III will follow that. The Southern locale and many of Them Bones’ characters will flow from one book to the next. So now is the time to get in on the ground floor of Carolyn’s intriguing venture into a world of murders, mysteries, and romances in the Mississippi Delta. For pure fun, Them Bones gets my highest recommendation.

Joseph Sackett
Southern Scribe Reviews


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