Way Down Dead in Dixie

a book review

I don’t know how three women successfully collaborate on one novel, much less three. This has baffled and impressed me ever since Caroline Cousins (which is actually three women, one of whom is a dear family friend) came out with their first S.C. island contemporary whodunit.

And all three novels are absolutely and delightfully entertaining. Sherlock Holmes was never so genteel; Hercule Poirot was never so adroit; heck, neither the Hardy Boys nor Nancy Drew was ever so innocently persistent. How could they be? Only Southerners understand Southerners. And not even all of them, all the time. I mean seriously. Not even we can fully explain ourselves.

But Mrs. Meg (as I have always referred to said family friend), her sister, and her cousin have written three mysteries that are a perfect blend of sweet, snappy, and South Carolina island Southern.

There’s a little romance with the local sheriff….a plantation-turned-tourist-attraction that is, after all, still home to Miss Augusta…three cousins who have a penchant for finding dead bodies and a bulldog perseverance at their own methods of amateur sleuthing…eccentric characters the likes of which you simply cannot find outside of the South…a past that is never truly past (thanks for that line, Faulkner)…and intricacies of acceptable social behavior that could never be explained to outsiders. One (much better) reviewer called it “a sprightly saga of skullduggery and Southern manners.” Perfect.

To read Mrs. Meg’s books (as I can’t help but think of them) is to sit on the bow of the boat next to her, cruising the marshes of the North Edisto. It’s to lounge on the couch of their old house in Ehrhardt and exchange exaggerated stories of driving slowly down the supposedly haunted Cry Baby Lane. To read her books is to sit around a table picking out crab meat, or assembling pb&js on white sandwich bread for a picnic later.

In this South Carolina island community, Coke is for breakfast, white shoes are for the summer, everybody knows their family tree, and sometimes people have “more money than taste.”

And to me…It just feels like home. Thank you, Mrs. Meg.

A couple of choice passages:

Lindsey and Margaret Ann talking about their cousin, all three of them middle-aged:

“‘She just wants some male attention, and he’s giving it, and he is a looker.’

‘He’s twenty years older than she is!’

‘Age doesn’t seem to matter. She thinks Stephen is hot, and he’s in college. Hormones. Could be she’s going coastal.’

‘Postal?’

‘Coastal! It happens all the time in Key West. People come there to escape, and the freedom goes to their heads, and they do crazy things. Bonnie’s not working this summer, she’s down here without Tim, and now even the parents are gone. She’s feeling flighty. Gone coastal.’” (p. 75) (rofl)

“We found the plantation owner sitting in her favorite recliner ‘resting her eyes,’ as she put it. The Miss Augustas of the world do not nap. Her best friend, Miss Maudie, who was snoozing in another recliner, made no apologies for ‘dropping off’ in the afternoon, but Miss Augusta seemed to regard a need for extra shuteye as a moral weakness.” (p. 84) I’m looking at you, Mom!

Note: the first two books in this series are no less delightful: Fiddle Dee Death, and Marsh Madness. Way Down Dead in Dixie on Amazon

 

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Published in: on October 13, 2016 at 2:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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