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Mystery Review   

Shadow of an Angel
By Mignon F. Ballard
St. Martin's, 2002
$23.95 (304p)
ISBN: 0312281684



In the third installment of her Augusta Goodnight series, author Mignon Ballard charms readers with quirky characters and a guardian angel who is part heavenly detective and part Martha Stewart. 

Minda Hobbs has returned to her hometown of Angel Heights, South Carolina, following the tragic death-by-lightning of her husband Jarvis.  There, surrounded by her family and heritage, Minda hopes to piece her life back together.  Unfortunately, the first relative she runs into is dead.  Cousin Otto may not have been the most popular man in Angel Heights, but Minda can't imagine who might have disliked him enough to kill him.

Finding a dead body is startling enough, but Minda's life takes another odd twist when she meets her guardian angel.  She doesn't believe Augusta is truly an angel, of course, though she may bake like one.  More likely, she is some slightly deranged neighbor with good intentions. Being a true southern lady, Minda indulges Augusta's strange behavior while indulging in Augusta's muffins. 

Like Minda, Augusta has returned to Angel Falls after a long absence.  She has some unfinished business that seems to have a connection to the current mystery surrounding Otto's death.  Soon enough, Augusta convinces Minda of her celestial status and the two of them team up to solve Otto's murder, which seems to have something to do with a long ago secret society known as the Mystic Six. 

Shadow of an Angel is a heartwarming cozy with the right mix of wacky characters and small town charm.  What separates this book from other cozies is Augusta Goodnight.  The eccentric do-gooder points Minda in the direction of valuable clues while providing a salve (often in the form of delicious baked good) for Minda's heartache.  Ballard's writing meanders like a country road through the lives and pasts of the citizens of Angel Falls.  Make no mistake though, Shadow of an Angel isn't just another tale of life in a small southern town.  Ballard has crafted a delightful mystery that spans several decades.  History and geneaology buffs will find themselves drawn into the past along with Minda and Augusta. 

Fans of the Augusta Goodnight series will be pleased with this latest edition.  Newcomers will want to read the two earlier books to find out what other adventures Augusta has been up to. Shadow of an Angel is a lovely summer treat!


Kristina Wright
Southern Scribe Reviews

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