Series Spotlight: Mysteries From The Mississippi Delta

10 May

As a young woman, I spent  a little over 7 years in Mississippi — 4 years of undergraduate studies at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, 2 years of graduate school at Mississippi State University in Starkville, and 1 1/2 years in Jackson working in state government.  I came to love the state and married a boy who is Mississippi bred and wants to return there ASAP.  He has been trying for 26 years now!  Oh well.  To help keep the Mississippi vibe going, I read books set there.  Carolyn Haines’ Sarah Booth Delaney series does the trick.  Set in and around the fictional Zinnia, Sarah Booth Delaney, Delta girl extraordinare, maintains the homestead by solving mysteries.  She gets help from sidekick Tinkie Richmond and Cee Dee (formerly Cecil) Falcon, while fending off the advances of men of all types.  Oh, and there is a ghost that shows up throughout the series, if not to help, at least to let her thoughts be known.   This is a fun, cozy series that brings me back to my days in Mississippi and my friendship with my Delta girl roomie.

The first book in the 11 book series is Them Bones

If only I hadn’t kidnapped the dog…but the ransom paid the mortgage….Now I seem to be a private eye….I shouldn’t have listened to that ghost….

Meet Sarah Booth Delaney…an unconventional Southern belle whose knack for uncovering the truth is about to make her the hottest detective in Zinnia, Mississippi…if it doesn’t make her the deadest.

No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth’s situation. Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she’s flat broke and about to lose the family plantation. Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother’s nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state–or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend’s prize pooch to raise some cash.

But soon Sarah Booth’s walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she’s hired to solve a murder. Did gorgeous, landed Hamilton Garrett V really kill his mother twenty years ago? And if so, what is Sarah Booth doing falling for this possible murderer? When she asks one too many questions and a new corpse turns up, she is suddenly a suspect herself…and Sarah Booth finds that digging up the bones of the past could leave her rolling over in her grave.

Them Bones is followed by:

Buried Bones — Private investigation isn’t on the list of a southern belle’s most desirable accomplishments- but it’s saved Sarah Booth Delaney’s southern homestead. Now all she has to cope with is its bossy antebellum ghost who is determined to save Sarah- from spinsterhood. Then comes the perfect social occasion: Lawrence Ambrose’s dinner party…

Splintered Bones — She may be a Mississippi belle, but Sarah Booth Delaney is no pampered daddy’s girl. Unwed and over thirty, Sarah has her own set of problems- like coping with regular hauntings by her great-great-grandmother’s nanny, a busybody of a ghost who’s set on marrying her off to the first suitor who comes calling. But when an old friend is in trouble, Sarah Booth doesn’t hesitate to get involved.

Crossed Bones –For a woman feeling a little heat of her own- navigating between a rich, available businessman, a married lawman with a waffling heart, and the sexy bluesman who is angling to become much more than her client, this case is taking dangerous twists.

Hallowed Bones –The leaves of the calendar may be shedding faster than the sycamores on her family’s decaying Mississippi plantation, but thirty-something 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.

Bones to Pick –Dahlia House is haunted. No big revelation for those who know me and my family, but on this cold November morning as I sit and watch the sun gild the harvested cotton fields with a false show of silver I am acutely aware of the specters of the past.

Ham Bones –Zinnia is abuzz: displaced from its New Orleans venue, a red-hot touring production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is opening right in the heart of town, featuring hunky star Graf Milieu! While most folks are excited, Sarah Booth, who had her own brief stint on the Great White Way- and on the arm of Milieu himself- is less than thrilled. Graf is now linked with his costar, Renata Trovaioli, a dyed-in-the-wool diva who plans to ride Graf’s coattails all the way to Hollywood.  But Renata’s trip to the top comes to a screeching halt on the play’s second night, when someone laces her lipstick with cyanide.

Wishbones –It’s time for Sarah Booth to pack up her hound dog and her P.I. business and take a shot at stardom! Soon she aces the screen test for a racy remake of the movie Body Heat alongside leading man Graf Milieu. The chemistry between them is undeniable—and why not? Graf has already starred in one of Sarah’s previous affairs…and is well on his way to landing a big part in the sequel.

Greedy Bones –Sarah is no stranger to drama. So when this talented actress and a P.I. hears that her best friend’s husband is suddenly on his deathbed back home, she snaps into “action!” and gets right on the case…

Bone Appetit –n the midst of a cook-off at a posh spa, southern PI Sarah Booth Delaney gets embroiled in a juicy murder.  The pampering and food go a long way toward making her feel like her old self, but there’s another welcome distraction—there’s a beauty contest/cook-off going on to find the spa’s next spokesperson, and watching the drama really takes her mind off of her woes. Sarah finds the backbiting to be great fun—until the heated competition boils over, the top …

Bones of A Feather (to be released in June)–When PI Sarah Booth Delaney and her partner and best friend, Tinkie, take on Monica and Eleanor Levert as clients, they don’t have much hope of solving the case. The wealthy heiresses of Briarcliff in Natchez, Mississippi, claim that a family necklace worth four million dollars has been stolen, and they think that they can hurry the insurance payout if a reputable PI investigates. Sarah Booth has her doubts, and not just about the payout….

Carolyn Haines is the author of eighteen novels, including the acclaimed Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series. She is the recipient of the prestigious 2009 Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. Haines was also given the 2010 Harper Lee Award. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives in Alabama on a farm with more dogs, cats, and horses than she can possibly keep track of!

(Please note:  For those who read only Christian fiction, this series is not part of that genre. Although mild by many standards, there is some mild profanity, a transgender character, and some sexual situations.)

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