Despite the wishes of her overprotective fiancé, Sarah Booth Delaney can't give up her detective work, no matter how dangerous it becomes. It's too much a part of her. On this case, avoiding danger might be impossible—she's on the trail of a porn-star-turned-psychic operating from a haunted estate on the edge of town. Medium Sherry Cameron promises to reunite grieving family members with their dearly departed, but it seems vaguely suspicious that Sherry will only accept emotionally vulnerable and tremendously wealthy clients. Aging billionaire Marjorie Littlefield fits the profile perfectly—her daughter died in a tragic accident as a young girl, she's been estranged from her son for decades, and she's planning to leave her considerable inheritance to her cat.
Convinced she's uncovered a scheme to separate a lonely woman from her fortune, Sarah Booth talks her way onto the estate as a maid, where she finds Marjorie and several other wealthy eccentrics ready to commune with the dead. Between chores, Sarah Booth explores the estate, mingles with the other staff…and finds a few dead bodies. But which guest or staff member might be the killer? Even Jitty, Sarah Booth's personal haint, won't tell until Sarah Booth has uncovered all of Sherry's well-kept secrets.
With spooks and charlatans around every corner, Sarah Booth is the only PI in the southlands who can put an end to this elaborate scam in Bonefire of the Vanities, the charming twelfth entry in Carolyn Haines's sparkling series.
In Haines's charming 12th mystery featuring Zinnia, Miss., PI Sarah Booth Delaney (after 2011's Bones of a Feather), Sarah Booth and her partner, Tinkie Bellcase Richmond, investigate wealthy Marjorie Littlefield's involvement in the mysterious Heart's Desire secret society. One of the services the society claims to provide is contact with the dead, something Sarah Booth is intimately familiar with, since family "haint" Jitty interacts with her in the guise of fictional detectives like Nancy Drew and Jessica Fletcher. Sarah Booth and Tinkie pose as Marjorie's maids at the society's secure resort, where they must deal with a snooty butler, a hostile head chef, a strong-minded feline, and the concerns of their respective sweethearts, even before the bodies start to fall. Meanwhile, Marjorie tries to discover whether her son was responsible for her daughter's death. A somewhat convoluted and contrived plot won't bother cozy fans.