Friday, August 17, 2012

Buried Bones by Carolyn Haines: A review



Seventy-six-year-old Lawrence Ambrose, a chip off the Truman Capote block, was once a celebrated name in the Southern literary world, but his heyday is long gone and he is mostly forgotten and ignored. All that may change though when his "biography" - actually an autobiography - comes out. He is writing the book but an ex super-star model's name will appear as the author and the word is out that the book will blow the lid off of several well-kept secrets of Ambrose's friends and running mates.

As the year draws to a close, Ambrose invites all his friends and acquaintances, including one Sarah Booth Delaney, to a holiday dinner party where the tension among the guests is thick enough to be sliced by a knife. As it turns out though, it is the host who gets sliced. Sarah Booth finds him stone cold dead in a pool of blood the morning after the party. Moreover, it seems that the much-dreaded manuscript for Ambrose's tell-all book is missing.

Soon, the woman who had loved Lawrence Ambrose for many years hires Sarah Booth to find out what happened. Specifically, she hires her to prove that the bitchy ex-model killed him.

As Sarah Booth begins her snooping - er, investigation of the case, she finds that many of the people who might have had answers to the questions that keep popping up are dead and, mostly, have been dead for many years. Will she ever be able to solve the mystery(ies), find the manuscript, and, most importantly, will she be able to earn her way as a private investigator in the little Delta town of Zinnia, Mississippi?

Meanwhile, as Sarah Booth is pursuing her lines of inquiry, Jitty, the antebellum ghost with whom she shares her family home, Dahlia House, is pursuing her single-minded obsession of getting Sarah Booth safely married and impregnated so that the Delaney bloodline is secure. Unfortunately, her task looks even more hopeless than that of Sarah Booth becoming a competent and successful PI.

This series is a bit of a light-hearted romp and it is fun to read, but I am one of those readers who can be distracted and irritated by little things. Things like rechristening the home of William Faulkner as Rowan Oaks. It's Rowan Oak, singular. And then there's Sarah Booth's hound which figures prominently in this story. The dog is repeatedly described as a red tic hound. I kept imagining a big red dog with a nervous twitch. There are Red Tick (or Redtick) hounds and Blue Tick (or Bluetick) hounds, but, as far as I know, there are no red tic hounds. An editing problem maybe, but an annoying one.

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