Bless Her Dead Little Heart
A Southern Sisters Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime, Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group, 2014
A new cozy mystery series begins with two sisters familiar to The Cat in the Stacks mystery series: An’gel and Dickce (prounounced ‘ahn-JELL’ and ‘dixie’) Ducote. They are cat-sitting Diesel, fretting about the damage a cat may do to their historic house and antique furnishings when an old college friend shows up on their doorstep unannounced and demanding to be taken care of. She is certain her family is trying to kill her and she is seeking sanctuary from them. Before too long her family members show up demanding access to their mother and the genteel sisters have no choice (as Southern Hospitality dictates) but to open their home to the lot of them. Within 48 hours there are 4 people dead and a fascinating mystery for the sisters to solve.
*An’-gel Ducote, older sister at 84 years young, is the defacto head of household and keeper of the family memories. She almost dies herself late in the book.
*Dixie Ducote, younger sister at 80 years young, lets An’-gel take the lead when it suits her; she and a stray family member find a Labradoodle and Abyssinian on the road side that will probably be featured in later books. Here, though, there reader is only introduced them.
*Diesel, a full grown Maine Coon at 36 pounds (!), loving life as he is spoiled at the Ducotes’. He also plays a key role in soothing the wounds of a young man in a lot of emotional pain.
*Deputy Ranesha Berry, well known to The Cat in the Stacks readers, solves the murders with the help of the sisters.
*Rosabelle Sultan, sorority sister from Athena College, is convinced one or more family member wants her dead. She is rude, pushy and demands to be the center of attention at all times. She is on her third husband and has 3 children by two different husbands.
*Maudine and Bernice, Rosabelle’s daughters, Maudine being the older of the two and offensive to the Ducote sisters’ sensiblities and manners. Bernice goes behind Maudine trying to repair the emotional damage done by Maudine.
*Ward and Marla, Rosabelle’s son and daughter-in-law are no better than her daughters: rude, obnoxious and arrogant.
*Juanita, Bernice’s daughter, a gentle, sweet young woman
*Junior, Maudine’s son, a ‘nice’ young man who is always embarrassed by his mother
*Benjy, Marla’s son and Ward’s stepson, ignored by the family for the most part. Diesel is a good judge of character and out of the whole group of crazy visitors, Benjy is the only person Diesel warms up to.
*Clementine, the Ducote’s housekeeper, whips up fabulous southern meals with ease, feeding the entire army without much complaint.
I really like this little book – the mystery was really good, I had no idea who it was that was doing the killing until it was explained. Of course, I don’t try too hard to figure it out because I just enjoy the read. Immensely readable and relaxing, I am looking forward to more books in this series. It will be fun to see what trouble An’-gel and Dickce get into. They both remind mom of her grandmother – elegant Southern ladies of a certain age, with genteel manners, good food, and most of all, humor and hospitality.
Rating: 4 paws out of 5 for a lovely depiction of my mom’s birth state as well as the inclusion of companion animals.
Yes, this is Miranda James – or rather, Miranda James is a pseuodnym of Dean James.
Maine Coon – he’s so big!!