Digging Up the Dirt

digging-up-the-dirtDigging Up the Dirt
A Southern Ladies Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2016

From the back cover: “An’gel and Dickce Ducote, busy with plans for the Athena Garden Club’s spring tour of grand old homes, are having trouble getting the other club members to help. The rest of the group is all aflutter now that dashing and still-eligible Hadley Partridge is back to restore his family mansion. But idle chatter soon turns deadly serious when a body turns up on the Partridge estate after a storm…
“The remains might belong to Hadley’s long-lost sister-in-law, Callie, who everyone thought ran off with Hadley years ago. And if it’s not Callie, who could it be? As the Ducotes begin uncovering secrets, they discover that more than one person in Athena would kill to be Mrs. Partridge. Now An’gel and Dickce will need to get their hands dirty if they hope to reveal a killer’s deep-buried motives begore someone else’s name is mud.”

This is the third book in this series and it is just as good as the other two. An’gel and Dickce are elderly sisters who, while always showing proper comportment, are like a dog with a bone when it comes to solving a murder! They live in an antebellum home in Athena, Mississippi where eccentric people are welcome – as long as they aren’t wielding a gun – and really nasty people are usually murdered.

There is a 40-year-old murder to solve that is connected to more recent murders and a group of older garden club ladies who argue and fuss like school girls over the handsome bachelor newly returned to town. The murders take place off stage, there is just a touch of wistful romance, and a lot of funny moments. As An’gel and Dickce move forward to solve the murder the reader has to continue turning the pages to keep up with them. I had my suspicions of who the murderer was but as usual, I was wrong.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because the mystery was a good one, it takes place in the South, my mom’s ancestral home, and has an Abyssinian named Endora and a Labradoodle named Peanut that lighten the mood when things get too dark.

bobbiesue-loc

Reviewer: BobbieSue

 

Before I go, this is what I found in the front of the book:mudpie-review-for-digging-up-dirt Do you see it? A review from Melissa’s Mocha’s, Mysteries & Meows (now & More) blog. That’s Mudpie’s blog!! That’s so cool!!!

Lawyer for the Cat

Lwyer-for-the-catLawyer for the Cat
 
Thomas Dunne books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, 2016
 
Sally Baynard is a divorce attorney in Charleston, South Carolina. She is known for being a tough and not easily pushed-around lawyer, always doing the best she can for her clients. A long-time friend, Judge Clarkson from Probate Court, asks her to be a trust enforcer for a troublesome case for a deceased elderly lady named Lila Mackay. Mrs. Mackay was definitely eccentric in her life, and now, she has set up a huge trust fund for her beloved black cat, Beatrice. She even named 4 different potential cat care-takers, each one with their own selfish reasons for wanting to keep an extremely rich cat. It is Sally’s job to interview the possible care-takers and make the best decision for Beatrice.
 
Sally takes the job, a little reluctantly because she also has to deal with her current contentious clients, a mother with Alzheimer’s disease, 2 very different and eccentric in their own rights nurse care-givers (for her mother), a secretary who’s in an emotional crisis and a boyfriend who is pressuring her to move in with him – not to mention the annoying ex-husband and his obnoxious new wife! Sally certainly has her plate full.
 
This book was a nice break from the usual murder mysteries and adventure novels we generally read. There are no murders, but there is a brief kidnapping episode and the only adventure Sally really goes on is in flying to New York City to interview one of the nominees. There is curse word or two, no graphic sex (just a reference to ‘love-making’), no real violence (just implied) but there are some tense moments and a bit of a mystery in wondering who will be chosen for Beatrice? The character of Sally is strong, smart, compassionate and yet still vulnerable when it comes to her personal feelings toward her mom and boyfriend. She struggles with keeping her life in balance between work, mom and boyfriend – something many women do in real life so it was easy to identify with her issues. I didn’t particularly care for the way the book ended regarding her boyfriend issue  – I won’t state it here because I don’t do spoilers!!!  I don’t mind cliff hangers but this was annoying to me because as cliff hangers go, it wasn’t a very good one.  But that was the only downside to the whole book.
 
Rating  3 paws
 
bobbiesueReviewer: BobbieSue
We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge!
Topic: Read a “Beach” Book
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The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

filling stationThe All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

Fannie Flagg
Random House, 2013

Another outstanding novel by Fannie Flagg! This one centers around a character we met in Welcome to the World, Baby Girl, Sarah Jane “Sookie” Krackenberry Poole. She’s the college friend of Dena in “Welcome” who refused at first to visit Dena because she lived above the Mason-Dixon line (New York City!). Sookie was born and raised in the South by the quintessential Southern Belle, her mother Lenore, aka, “Winged Victory” – so named by her family for her winged hair-style that she never changed. Also because Lenore is the type of person who pushes her way into a person’s life regardless of whether they want her there or not! Sookie has just survived 3 years of chaos in having weddings for her 3 daughters and is looking forward to solving the blue jay problem in her garden when she receives a register letter for Lenore from a law office in Texas. Through a hilarious chain of events she finds out – well, I don’t want to say – it would ruin the surprise. The whole story spins off the information the letter holds.

In Ms Flagg’s typical style the reader is treated to several different generations and times – from 1909 Poland to 1940s Wisconsin to 2005 Alabama; from small-town American North to small-town American South. So good, so funny, so uplifting. The author weaves a story that evokes the patriotism of World War 2, and the love / madness of a tight-knit family. In both stories – Sookie’s and Fritzi Jurdabralinski’s – the women grow into their own – fully appreciating who they are and where they are in their lives and learning to stay true to themselves.

Rating: 5 paws

bobbiesue booksReviewer: BobbieSue

Fannie Flagg 1972.jpg Fannie Flagg

Other covers:

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

SCAN0009Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café

Fannie Flagg
Random House, 1987, 2005

Have you ever had fried green tomatoes? Mom has and she says that even though she absolutely hates tomatoes, there is something about them picked green and fried up that is all yum for the tum. (I’ve include the recipe courtesy of the book at the end of the post!) Anyway, this book is all yum for the tum for me. A book about the American South that shows it in all its glory, humor, and horror full of characters to both love and hate.

The story opens in 1986 with a middle aged white woman who is, by her own admission, lost in the world. Evelyn Couch’s children are gone, her husband a mere shadow in her life and a craving for candy bars that beats anything I ever saw. She is visiting her mother-in-law in a nursing home with her husband and when she has had enough of visiting she goes elsewhere to eat some candy. In the hall she meets and 87-year-old resident named Ninny Threadgoode who takes Evelyn and the reader on a journey more than 50 years in the past through months of telling stories of Whistle Stop, Alabama.

We meet Idgie Threadgoode, as both the irrepressible wild child and free-thinking adult; Ruth Jamison whose tender heart and beauty attracts all; Big George, who makes the best barbecue in town; Onzell (Big George’s wife)and Sipsey (Big George’s mom) who make the best everything else (fried green tomatoes, pecan pie, chicken and dumplings – typical southern fare) at the Whistle Stop Café; Grady Kilgore, town sheriff; and the horrible Frank Bennett. There is also a mystery to be solved – who murdered who and why and who goes on trial for it! (If you’ve seen the movie, you know. If you haven’t seen the movie, read the book first. The book is better than the movie but with Jessica Tandy as Ninny Threadgoode and Kathy Bates as Evelyn Couch, the movie is pretty outstanding, too!)

The book is written in Fannie Flagg style – like sitting with your grandmother or long-time friend listening with bated breath while they tell you a long and convoluted story.  It  has multiple story threads and meanders its way through the lives of a lot of people, but mostly Idgie’s and Evelyn’s. In spite of all the smaller stories occurring around the main plot line the book is an easy read and it’s easy to follow the individual character’s lives. The book warms the heart with tears and joy and is an American Classic in the vein as  To Kill a Mockingbird.

Rating: 5 paws

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue

Fannie Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe ...Fannie Flagg

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Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!

welcome to the worldWelcome to the World, Baby Girl!

Fannie Flagg
Random House, 1998

“. . . Poor little old human beings—they’re jerked into this world without having any idea where they came from or what it is they are supposed to do, or how long they have to do it in. Or where they are gonna wind up after that. But bless their hearts, most of them wake up every morning and keep on trying to make some sense out of it. Why you can’t help but love them, can you? I just wonder why more of them aren’t as crazy as betsy bugs.” – Aunt Elner, 1978

Dena Nordstrom, the book’s main character, is an up and coming television newscaster in early 1970s New York City. She is tall, blond and has porcelain white skin – a striking beauty who calls attention to herself even if she isn’t seeking it. But Dena harbors a secret and it’s forcing her to work herself into an early grave. Her father died before she was born and her mother disappeared from her life when she was just 15 years old. The only family she has are her father’s cousins, Norma and Macky Warren and great-Aunt Elner, all of whom live in the very small All-American town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri. Circumstances force Dena to confront her past and slowly embrace both herself and her family.

The story is full of characters, both smarmy and wacky. Dena herself is constantly unsure of herself but as long as she can drink, take Valium, smoke and keep running she makes a success of her life – at least on the surface. Her boss, Ira Wallace, is disgusting both physically and personally. He’d sell his own mother for good dirt on anybody. Best friend from college Sookie forces her crazy-friendly way back into Dena’s life, and unknowingly sets off a cascade of events that bring Dena to the truth about herself and her mother. Gerry, her psychiatrist for just a few sessions, falls madly in love with her and pursues her to Missouri – dressed as a 14th century troubadour bearing roses and a song. Cousin Norma talks a mile a minute, is frantic about everything and worries so much her long suffering husband Macky just keeps breathing deeply and sighing. It is Norma, Macky and Aunt Elner who call Dena ‘Baby Girl.’

The book starts off a little slow and a little confusing at first; but then I remembered that the other book I read (but not reviewed) by Fannie Flagg, Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, was the same format so I figure that’s just the way the author writes. The story winds its way backwards and forwards, almost with every chapter. The book starts out in 1948 and then jumps to 1973, then back to the 60’s, forward again, backward again and so on. It’s sort of like having your mother or older friend tell you about her life and the story about her 10th year birthday party leads her to tell you about your 5th year birthday party, which then leads her to tell you about the time her mother fell off the porch – you get the whole story but not in a linear way. Welcome is funny in places, especially where Norma, Macky and Elner are concerned but overall it wasn’t as funny as Can’t Wait – that one was hilarious! Overall I enjoyed it and Ms Flagg has made it onto my favorite author’s list.

Rating:

4 paws

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue

  Fannie Flagg

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