Don't pick up Sophie Littlefield's debut mystery if you're offended by foul language or violence. But, if you want to read about one of the most original characters in crime fiction, a fifty-year-old woman, a Redneck with a heart of gold, who survived her own abusive marriage only to become a champion for other abused women, a caring mother and neighbor, then you need to pick up A Bad Day for Sorry.
Stella Hardesty killed her husband after suffering through thirty years of his abuse. Now, she's gaining a reputation in Prosper, Missouri for taking on abusive husbands. She has a silent group of appreciative women, and a larger group of people who spread rumors as to Stella's skills with a gun and other instruments of torture. But, she just can't seem to get through to Roy Dean Shaw that he needs to let his ex-wife, Chrissy, alone.
When Chrissy shows up at Stella's house, though, she's not looking for help for herself. Her eighteen-month-old son, Tucker, has disappeared, and Chrissy suspects Roy. But, Chrissy hasn't told Stella everything. What about her first ex-husband, who happened to be in the house when Tucker disappeared? Then, there's Roy Dean's association with the mob, involving drugs and stolen cars. Stella's determined to save Tucker, but it could prove to be her last attempt to save an innocent child.
There are two groups of people Stella cares for in life - abused women, and innocent children. It's evident in Stella's humorous relationship with a neighbor boy. She acts tough, but provides him with meals, gives him money for mowing his own lawn, and tries to encourage him to grow up to be a good man.
Stella Hardesty is a study in contrasts. Stella is introduced as a hard-nosed woman who delights in torturing the men who beat women. Her reputation has grown beyond the local community, and Stella is proud of that. At the same time, she's capable of taking a neighbor boy under her wing, feeding him, watching TV with him, and advising him as to life. She and her daughter are not on speaking terms, but she mothers Chrissy. Stella is a woman who could be arrested for a number of crimes against men, but her own father was a Highway Patrolman, and she's smitten with the local sheriff, Goat Jones. She has a proper business, selling sewing notions, and a sideline business, threatening men.
If Stella appears dislikable in the first few pages, a tough broad with no redeeming qualities, keep reading. A Bad Day for Sorry is a thought-provoking story, with humor and warmth. You won't be sorry you gave Sophie Littlefield's debut a day in your life.
Sophie Littlefield's website is www.sophielittlefield.com
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield. St. Martin's Press, ©2009. ISBN 9780312559205 (hardcover), 288p.