When I read Carolyn Haines' first Sarah Booth Delaney mystery, Them Bones, it just wasn't my type of book. I didn't care for Sarah, and I definitely thought her family ghost, Jitty, was over the top. So, I hadn't picked up another one in the series until Greedy Bones, the ninth book. This one, opening with a tragedy, struck me as a more serious mystery. Greedy Bones caught my attention.
Sarah Booth Delaney has returned home to Mississippi, temporarily shelving her Hollywood career, to help her business partner. Tinkie's husband has been struck down by some mysterious disease, and he, and three other people with the same symptoms of fever, chills, rash, and eventually coma, seem to be dying. They had all been on the Carlisle plantation recently, and, within hours, they came down with the symptoms. And, the land itself seems odd, with its genetically engineered cotton crop, followed by boll weevils. It's up to Sarah Booth to work with the local sheriff, a man she once loved, to find the answers to this strange disease. Maybe the CDC has been called in, but Sarah loves the people and land in her hometown, and she's determined to save them.
As Sarah and Sheriff Coleman Peters dig deeper, they find themselves digging into the local history for answers. Sarah says, "I'd come to understand that the past was the soil that sprouted the seed of the present." But, this isn't a typical crime in a cozy. Jitty warns Sarah, "The person behind all this woe is smart - and wicked...Not your normal run-of-the-mill criminal."
For those who have been following the series, I'm sure they'll be pleased to see the return of Sarah and Tinkie. They'll want to catch up with Sarah's love life. But, new readers can pick up this book as well. It's an intense mystery, with repercussions that will echo in the community for years to come.
And, for me, since I didn't care for Sarah and Jitty? Sarah has matured from what I remember. Jitty doesn't strike me in the same way. Perhaps I wasn't in the mood for Them Bones when I tried to read it. This time around, Sarah seemed to be a loving woman, determined to be there for her friends, no matter the cost to herself. This time, Sarah's voice was right for me, and right for Greedy Bones.
Carolyn Haines' website is www.carolynhaines.com
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Greedy Bones by Carolyn Haines. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2009. ISBN 9780312377106 (hardcover), 336p.