Some amateur sleuths seem out-of-place and awkward when they leave their home environments. Not so with Miranda James' octogenarian Ducote sisters, An'gel and Dickce. The two Southern grandes dames are perfectly at home on a plantation in Louisiana. And, they're perfectly capable of solving a complex case in Dead with the Wind.
An'gel and Dickce travel to Willowbank with their ward and their two pets, a Labradoodle and an Abyssinian cat. The plantation is the ancestral home of their cousin, Mireille Champlain, whose granddaughter, Sondra, is getting married. Sandra is eager to inherit her trust and fortune, and everything must be Sondra's way or no way at all. The Ducotes are appalled at Sondra's behavior, and they worry about their cousin's health in dealing with the spoiled bride-to-be. The housekeeper and others even warn Sondra of bad luck with the upcoming storm and the wedding day she selected, telling a story of a post-Civil War bride-to-be who was blown off her balcony during a storm. While An'gel and Dickce scoff at the legend, the anger in that household swirls around, portending trouble. After one near-fatal miss, and then death, the Ducotes are convinced the tragedies at Willowbank are not accidental.
There's a great deal of drama and anger in James' latest Southern Ladies mystery. Dead with the Wind is a polished, character-driven story featuring two spirited, determined amateur sleuths. The ambience is also perfect for this story set on a Southern plantation, with emotions riding high as a storm hits. All of the elements combine to create a foreboding atmosphere. Fortunately, James tempers the evil with a sweetness, created by the presence and actions of the pets and a toddler.
An'gel Ducote thought "It pained her greatly to see her cousin's family unraveling in so nasty a fashion." It may have pained the Ducote sisters, but the family drama and tragedies make for an excellent mystery. And, the sisters are capable, admirable sleuths in Miranda James' Dead with the Wind.
Find Miranda James at www.catinthestacks.com.
Dead with the Wind by Miranda James. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425273050 (paperback), 291p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.