Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Review: Smarty Bones

Smarty Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney MysteryAuthor: Carolyn Haines
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Series: Sarah Booth Delaney # 13

Professor Olive Twist has come to Zinnia, Mississippi to study a mysterious grave wherein lies the Lady in Red, a perfectly preserved and stunningly beautiful but unnamed and unclaimed body. Olive claims she can not only identify the corpse, she can also prove the woman’s scandalous role in the nation’s history. Olive takes it a step too far, though, when she starts connecting elite Zinnia families with the same scandal.

Dander up, Zinnia’s society ladies know only one way to handle Olive: they call on the private investigative services of Sarah Booth Delaney. But Olive’s real agenda is clear as Mississippi mud, and when Sarah Booth discovers a present-day dead body, she knows there’s more than just family pride and Southern heritage at stake. If she can’t find the murderer and fast, it might just be Sarah Booth's life on the line next.

Carolyn Haines pulls out all the stops in Smarty Bones, the next charming, sassy, Southern-fried Sarah Booth Delaney mystery.

One of the worst – and the best – things about Southerners is their total devotion to the reverence of the past.

Color me flabbergasted. I opened and closed my mouth like a guppy, unable to form words. Her accusations and leaps of logic were so astounding, no sane person would give them credence. She’d take a local mystery and embroidered it into a tablecloth for a banquet of crazy lies.

“Olive Twist. Like the Dickens character, only female.” She caught on fast.

“Really skinny. Like a number two pencil. And glamorous with a peculiar sense of fashion. And mean as a pit viper. She enjoys upsetting people. She disrupted the meeting of the Daughters of the Supreme Confederacy. That’s how I got on to her. France Malone came by Dahlia House and asked me to speak to her, for all the good it did.”

Sarah Booth Delaney is at it again! There is another mystery to solve and this southern gal is already on the case. A Professor Olive Twist has come to Zinnia, Mississippi and plans to stir up trouble for the locals. Sarah Booth and her close friends will have none of it, however, and they immediately become suspicious of this long-legged, big-footed know-it-all! Then when her personal assistant whom she bosses around like an orphan child turns up dead, Olive Twist becomes the prime suspect. However, swearing that she is innocent, Professor Twist hires Sarah to prove just that. With a mixture of other crazy happenings in Zinnia, Mississippi, Sarah Booth has a hard time only focusing on her case, but as well she gets the job done and gets her man…or woman!

I am absolutely in love with the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries for many, many reasons. Firstly, I love the culture and the background that Haines gives Sarah Booth and her small town friends. The Southern dialect and traditions often come through in Haines’ writing. She uses some of the most catchy phrases and expressions, and they are often uttered by our favorite heroine. She has quite the catchy tongue, and I found myself laughing at her more times than not. I can almost hear her Southern twang pouring out over the pages, and a lot of what she says I have often heard by many Southerners around me.

I was very intrigued by the storyline within this mystery, and Haines explains in the historical note that some of this mystery is based on actual fact. The mystery revolves around the unearthing of a completely intact woman in a coffin called “The Lady in Red.” The woman that was accidentally dug up while a new site was being excavated was submerged in a beautiful air tight coffin full of alcohol. Some of these events were based on fact and actually did happen. I loved how Professor Olive Twist fit into this story and her character, while being rather rude and obnoxious, fit in perfectly with this mystery. She plans to prove that “The Lady in Red” is related to two of the most influential families in Zinnia and that she was guilty in planning to assassinate Lincoln, as in Abraham! Not of the facts in this story actually happened, but Haines explains all that before you begin reading.

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Minotaur Books in exchange for my honest review***


  1. I love your blog! Thanks for dropping by my blog. Great review, too! :)

    The Mile Long Bookshelf

  2. What a very pleasant surprise to find this delightful blog--and a review of my new book. Chelsey, I think you would fit right in with the Zinnia gang. What fun.