Bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb, internationally acclaimed for the "quiet fire"* of her Appalachian Ballad novels, clearly has a dark side--a wicked, sardonic wit that has prompted critics to compare her to Jane Austen and Jonathan Swift.
Readers and reviewers alike also have lauded Ms. McCrumb for her inspired chronicles of forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson. In her newest tale in the MacPherson saga, McCrumb examines society's fascination with beauty--and the deceptiveness of outer appearances. Elizabeth herself, hospitalized for depression over her missing husband, learns that insanity liberates one from polite hypocrisy, enabling a "crazy lady" to remark: "Anorexia is not a disease; it's a career move."
Out in the real world, Elizabeth's brother Bill has bought a stately old mansion to use as his law office, only to find that the house comes with a charming codger-in-residence who is far too old to be a dangerous outlaw. . . isn't he? Meanwhile, the steel magnolia who is Bill's law partner is trying to track down the PMS Outlaws--an escaped convict and her fugitive attorney--who are cruising pickup joints and wreaking a peculiar vengeance on lust-crazed men.
Sharyn McCrumb's incisive wit and her genius for mirroring everyday life are once again on full display. The PMS Outlaws is an outrageous parable of modern mores, where beauty is the weapon, and nobody is safe.
*The New York Times Book Review
This mild-mannered mystery, number nine in the Elizabeth MacPherson series from versatile writer McCrumb (Bimboes of the Death Sun; If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him), is a humorous, fast-paced story. When we join MacPherson, she has just checked into the Cherry Hill Psychiatric Hospital to deal with depression brought on by the death of her husband. Meanwhile, struggling Virginia lawyer Bill MacPherson, Elizabeth's brother, has purchased an old mansion for his law firm's upscale office. The mansion comes with a catch: the elderly man who originally built the house (with apparently dubious funds) is still living on the sun porch. As Bill works out the real estate deal, his law partner, A.P. Powell, disappears to chase clues about the newly infamous PMS Outlaws, who have been stealing money from men and leaving them handcuffed in compromising positions. While the novel's many eccentric characters never fail to entertain, the mystery of the old man is little more than a distraction, both for the reader and for Elizabeth. As for the PMS Outlaws, they are completely transparent in their motivations: they want to get money and cut men down to size. What keeps the pages turning is the desire to see Elizabeth and Powell find their way out of their obsessions and back to their respective lives. McCrumb's gift is for making us care whether they do. Mystery Guild main selection; 6-city author tour.