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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Booty Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery, #14)

Booty Bones - Carolyn Haines

Warning: this one is going to be long, because I can't review this book without talking about the series in general. 


Series summary:  Sarah Booth Delaney is Mississippi born and bred.  Orphaned at a young age, she's raised by her Aunt and the ghost of her many-times-great grandmother's nanny, Jitty.  She is raised to be a Daddy's Girl, but tries to make her own way as an actress in NYC.  The series begins after her aunt's death and Sarah's return to her Delta home to try to save it from the creditors.  Thus begin's her life of crime-solving as a Private Investigator.


I put off ever trying this series for the longest time because the first book has Sarah Booth dognapping another Daddy's Girl's purse-pup and holding it for ransom.  I thought "Oh please!  I cannot read about a poor little rich girl that is TSTL dognapping to make money!  Ghost or no ghost." BUT, desperation makes for strange bookfellows and I finally picked it up. And couldn't put it down again.  What starts out as almost silly farce ends up in a very different place and a deep abiding friendship takes root.  I was hooked.


The Sarah Booth Delaney series is excellent; consistently excellent and beautifully written.  It's a cozy series, but every book goes deeper than any other cozy I've read, while still allowing for fun.  Sarah Booth is a very realistic protagonist and one I can identify with on several levels:  born in the south with deep family roots, being a Daddy's Girl; even her love life - I look at what the author crafts and think "damn - been there, done that and she's right, it sucks".  Actions and decisions have far reaching consequences in these books, so even when plots or situations are far-fetched, the outcomes are far more realistic than just about any cozy with their HEA's guaranteed.


Booty Bones take up in the aftermath of Smarty Bones, so this is definitely not a read-out-of-order series.  Sarah Booth has taken her fiancee, Graf, to Dauphin Island in Alabama to recuperate after an injury and to make some decisions about what she really wants from her life and what she's willing to sacrifice to have it.  On-island, a former journalist turned tour guide begs Sarah Booth to investigate her father's murder; she insists the wrong man was captured, tried and convicted.  Furthermore, she's absolutely certain her father was killed because he was about to announce he had found the famous buried treasure of a French Pirate.


With her focus on Graf and her partner Tinkie in New Orleans, Sarah finally agrees only to asking a few questions in the time she has.  But the knowledge of her hiring starts a chain of events that suck Sarah Booth in and she rapidly discovers that absolutely nothing is as it appears.  Events conspire and Sarah Booth calls in Tinkie and on her heels is a late season hurricane heading straight for Dauphin.


The series themes of friendship and love remain strong throughout this book and Jitty the ghost keeps up her antics, but melancholy is the only word that keeps popping into my head when trying to describe it.  Coming to terms with life-changing events, accepting that knowing the truth is important, but doesn't change what is, and letting go are all big themes in Booty Bones.


The plot was well-done. Although I 'caught' the killer early on in the book, the author convinced me I was wrong, only to lead me right back again.  After all that, I still only got it half right, and had the motivation completely wrong.


This is another book I'd have rated 4.5 stars, except there were a few (very few) editing errors: at one point a cousin is called a brother, and there were hints that this book was revised and some orphans got left behind.  Small potatoes overall.


If you enjoy a serving of silly with your food for thought, in addition to great murder mysteries, I can't recommend this series enough.  I always close these books having enjoyed them thoroughly, and I'm always left with something to think about afterwards.