Tuesday, October 3, 2017

FIXING TO DIE by Miranda James

Publisher:     Berkley
Published:     October  3, 2017
ISBN:        978-0399584770
Genre:      Cozy Mystery
Format:     Print
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina  myreviewbooks@aol.com



It’s been a relaxing autumn for the Ducote sisters An’gel and Dickce when they receive a rather strange missive from a long-time family friend, Mary Turner Catlin. Instead of calling, emailing or texting she’s sent an actual letter!  And Mary Turner is pretty young to be resorting to such an old fashioned, yet time honoured way of communicating.  It seems there are some strange goings on in her antebellum home in Natchez.  Always ready to help a friend, the sisters along with their ward, Benji, head off to Natchez.  There they are greeted with a story that sure sounds like the house is haunted.  Strange things are happening—cold spots on the stairs, objects moving and electricity going off for no reason, just to name a few.  Not ones to believe in other worldly happenings the sisters set out to find out just what is causing these strange events.  Before they can really dig into what is behind these unexplained matters several people show up unannounced—not one but two rather disliked cousins and a self-proclaimed psychic.  Things go even further awry when one of the residents is found dead in their bed.  Despite having been involved with several previous murder investigations, the sisters aren’t at all sure if this is murder, justice from the other side or a simple natural death.  With strangers in the house and a number of antagonistic parties the sisters find themselves in the middle of yet another investigation…but is it really murder?

I love Miranda James' Southern Ladies Mysteries.  They are such a fun and clever off-shoot of his Cat in the Stacks series starring Diesel the Maine Coon cat.  These feisty seniors stand on their own especially with how they are ready to up and travel to where they are needed.  James brings his own brand of creativity to this series, as he does with Cat in the Stacks by including Peanut the dog and Eudora the kitty into the stories.  They are not token characters just to draw in animal lovers, but have their own roles to play in the stories.  They add depth to how the sisters go about solving their mysteries, such as in his latest, FIXING TO DIE, when An’gel and Dickce rely on Peanut and Eudora’s feline and dog talents to sense things that often go right past our humans.  While he could have taken the easy way in writing this series by having the sisters solve crimes in Athena where Charlie Harris and Diesel are located, after all, they are from the same town, James has the sister traveling to different locales.  It would be easy to have them stay in Athena where James “knows” the town well, but he treats readers to not just different cities, but gives a bit of their history in telling the stories.
James also delves into some subject areas others may struggle with and does it with class and style. These subjects aren’t tossed in just to be PC, but are an important part of the story.  Of course, FIXING TO DIE is a cozy so it has some fun characters, quirky moments and a good mystery to solve. 

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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