Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
New York Times bestselling author Miranda James returns to Athena, Mississippi, with an all-new mystery featuring Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce Ducote, two snoopy sisters who are always ready to lend a helping hand. But when a stressed socialite brings murder right to their doorstep, even they have trouble maintaining their Southern hospitality…
With the Mississippi sun beating down, An’gel and Dickce are taking a break to cool off and pet sit their friend Charlie Harris’s cat, Diesel, when their former sorority sister, Rosabelle Sultan, shows up at their door unexpectedly, with her ne’er-do-well adult children not far behind.
Rosabelle’s selfish offspring are desperate to discover what’s in her will, and it soon becomes clear that one of them would kill to get their hands on the inheritance. Suddenly caught up in a deadly tangle of duplicitous suspects and deep-fried motives, it will take all of the sisters’ Southern charm to catch a decidedly ill-mannered killer…. (Amazon)
An’gel and Dickce Ducote are spry octogenarian, never married sisters and prominent members of the small Mississippi town of Athena. Their long lineage and wealth give them great influence on those around them. They have deep seeded ideas about manners and Southern gentility and are a bit nosey, but deep down are loyal, generous, and caring individuals. They were first introduced in Miranda James’ book Out of Circulation.
The sisters have settled into the dog days of August and, taking a break from their various committees and public works, plan to spend some quiet days cat-sitting their friend Charlie’s cat Diesel (see Cat in the Stacks series). Before they have a chance to relax, their sorority sister Rosabelle appears on their doorstep, a little worse for wear, seeking sanctuary. She has essentially run away from her home in California fearing that a member of her family is trying to kill her for his/her inheritance. Before Rosabelle has even settled into the guest room, her family starts to arrive, claiming to be interested in her well being and safety. Soon An’gel and Dickce are juggling rooms in an attempt to accommodate a son, daughter-in-law, step grandson, two daughters, granddaughter and grandson. Eventually, even Rosabelle’s current (third) husband joins the crowd.
An’gel and Dickce cannot help but wonder if Rosabelle is exaggerating her circumstances and fears until Marla, the daughter-in-law, tumbles down the marble staircase to her death. Water is found on a step and petroleum jelly on the banister so accidental death is eliminated. Does someone really wish to kill Rosabelle after all? Did she sabotage the stairs herself in an attempt to gain sympathy? The sisters agree to continue to house the guests (suspects) until Deputy Chief Kenesha Berry can solve the case. The sisters use their own proximity and wiles to do some sleuthing of their own, both to help their friend and get life back to normal. During the course of the book, the ladies become interested in Marla’s son Benjy’s future, now that his mother is deceased, and acquire a dog and cat. Things become dangerous for the sisters when they get close to identifying the perpetrator.
This book felt like an old fashioned weekend house party closed room mystery since all of the characters were more or less confined to the Ducote house by order of the chief deputy. The Ducote sisters were likable, interesting, real characters that I enjoyed getting to know. Rosabelle is self absorbed and larger than life and, thus, a little hard to like, but I did not wish her harm. Her family, however, were for the most part rude, unappreciative and self serving in their own rights. It was easy to see each of them as suspects with plenty of ill motives. The characters do fall victim to some Southern stereotypes, but I think this adds to the charm of the story. Though there were no grisly details, I was surprised by the final body count. I look forward to reading future installments and watching the relationship between Benjy and the sisters unfold. I love Diesel from the Cat in the Stacks series and hope that Peanut the dog and Endora the cat add just as much enjoyment to this series.
I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery, and did not find it read as a first in a series. Though it features characters introduced elsewhere, I do not think it necessary to have read James’ other series (but you will probably want to after reading Bless Her Dead Little Heart). I highly recommend this book to fans of the Cat in the Stacks books, Southern settings, and cozies featuring animals.