The southern Delta has never been more exhilarating, evocative, and wickedly funny than in the mysteries of Carolyn Haines. Now she takes readers on another rollicking ride across the Mississippi cotton fields and into the glamour of New Orleans…as P.I. Sarah Booth Delaney follows a winding trail of murder and deception into a world where ghosts make fashion statements-and where one person's miracle is another person's mayhem.The leaves of the calendar may be shedding faster than the sycamores on her family's decaying Mississippi plantation, but thirty-something southern belle Sarah Booth Delaney isn't ready to sing the blues. Not when she's got a thriving detective agency and the outspoken, outrageously attired ghost of her great-great-grandmother's nanny to keep her on her toes. But the matchmaking phantom may have the last word on motherhood when Sarah Booth takes on the controversial case of an accused baby killer.
Amour and a murder make this Mississippi Delta whodunit from Haines (Crossed Bones, etc.) sure to please. Since PI Sarah Booth Delaney's most spiritual aspect is her live-in ghost, it's more than surprising when a nun hires her to help a "healer" who was raised in the sister's orphanage. Doreen Mallory, tarot card reader, charismatic teacher and object of a large following's devotion, sits in a New Orleans jail cell, accused of murdering her baby. Was it a case of "if you can't heal 'em, kill 'em," or was someone else responsible for the crime Sarah Booth's associate Tinkie Richmond joins the hunt, and the two set off for the Crescent City, intent on finding the truth. The trail forces Sarah Booth into close quarters with Sheriff Coleman Peters,whose almost-indiscretion with the Southern belle turned detective has left them both wondering what might have been, barring Coleman's wife's first dibs on the lawman. But, par for the course, it's either feast or famine in Sarah Booth's love life, so re-enter her former flame, Hamilton Garrett. Between her own problems and delving into an impressive trio of could-be sperm donors for Doreen's daughter, a number of reasons for wanting the child dead reach the surface. The twists and turns take the reader through the labyrinth of the charming French Quarter and into the settings of high and low society. When the dots are connected, the conclusion is both clever and impressive. (Mar. 30) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Hallowed Bones by Carolyn Haines
When the brisk winds of October skim over the drying bolls of cotton, I find myself caught in the web of time. In the rustle of the cotton leaves, in the clear light of autumn, and the grape smell of blooming kudzu, the past lurks like a siren, promising the pleasure of memory and delivering the pain of regret.
Sitting on the front porch at Dahlia House, sipping a third cup of coffee, I watch the sycamore leaves drift into the driveway. Dahlia House needs a coat of paint. I need so much more than that.
The leaves of the calendar seem to be shedding faster than the sycamores, and I'm caught in limbo. I went to bed last night thinking about Sheriff Coleman Peters and his pregnant wife, and I awoke this morning remembering the feel of Scott Hampton beside me. I sat up in bed, knowing that I let Scott walk away without a single word that might have encouraged him to stay. One word. Please. It might have been enough.
That I couldn't ask him to stay while I sorted through the secrets of my heart doesn't make it any easier to wake up alone, remembering a man's touch. October arouses terrible longings. The Delaney womb is sending a series of demanding and not-so-subtle messages.
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were havin' a case of the low-down and dirties." The familiar voice came from behind me. "The blues, unless you're singin' 'em, are a total waste of time, Sarah Booth Delaney."
I sniffed the air, catching the tantalizing scent of a cigarette. I hadn't smoked in three years, but the craving was on me in a flash. Glancing over my shoulder, I was amazed to see Jitty, a circa 1850's ghost, reclining in a rocking chair, with one leg draped over the arm. A lazy drift of smoke curled from a cigarette holder in her right hand.
"What are you doing?" I was astounded at the cigarette and her outfit. Her dress was a short, tight tube of glittery mauve material layered with black fringe. A matching band of material circled her head, allowing some artfully arranged curls to escape. Clunky shoes with high heels were strapped across her feet, leading up to stockings with a seam.