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.
At the start of Haines's hokey 13th Sarah Booth Delaney mystery (after 2012's Bonefire of the Vanities), Dr. Olive Twist, a professor at a prestigious New England college, arrives in Zinnia, Miss., to investigate the 150-year-old exhumed corpse of the Lady in Red a mysterious beauty whose enigmatic past may connect prominent local families to a Lincoln assassination attempt. Eager to share this theory with anyone within earshot, Olive ruffles local feathers. Scandal and PI Sarah Booth arrive on the scene when the body of Olive's assistant is discovered poisoned in Olive's hotel room. Jitty, Sarah Booth's whimsical ghost confidante, serves up some comic relief. While Olive offers predictable stereotypes of Southern culture, the natives react in such hackneyed and simplistic ways that some readers may feel Olive's complaints are justified. Cheery prose is a plus, but an improbable antebellum twist will dismay some historians.
I think this is one of my favorites. It had me guessing throughout the book. Loved it!