Mae December runs a successful dog boarding business in Tennessee. When her neighbor, Ruby Mead-Allison fails to pick up her unruly Pomeranian from Mae’s kennel, Mae pokes around and discovers the woman’s body. She is found with a traffic counting cord around her neck, wearing one red boot. While delving into the mystery of Ruby’s death, Mae meets handsome Sheriff Ben Bradley. Together they find no shortage of suspects. Ruby was standing in the way of a project that would widen her rural road and make the area safer. Was she killed by an angry neighbor? The Road Commissioner? Her estranged husband? Her disinherited brother? The Sheriff may not appreciate Mae’s amateur detecting, but he responds to her as a woman. Meanwhile the murderer thinks its time to put a permanent stop to Mae’s meddling.
Part of the ‘A Book from every State of the Union’ Reading Challenge – Tennessee
Even if the reader wasn’t aware when they picked this up that is was set in the South, as soon as they start to meet and get to know the characters it would become apparent. The women and their mannerisms all reminded me of the Southern women I have encountered since coming to live in the US, and some even resembled family members which made me smile. Through a crisp writing style the Author brings their characters not only to life, but has them serving sweet iced tea to the reader as they progress through this book, and in this way it I found it very easy to connect with them and establish a relationship; even their gossip made me feel included in their everyday lives.
Although this is a cozy mystery, it is written in such a manner that it reflects its setting. There is no rushing to the climax, which when it comes is fast paced and packs a punch, but rather a slow and deliberate feel to the whole plot; rather like life in a small rural Southern town, slow, deliberate and with meaning in everything that takes place. So carefully has the Author worked at setting the scene for the plot that the reader is pulled into the town itself and made to feel part of a community where everyone knows everything about everybody… or do they? In the writing of the dog boarding and breeding side of the novel, it was plainly obvious that not only had the Author done extensive research into these subjects, but then taken the time to make them interesting enough to their readers as to not seem out of line with the rest of the happenings; this time was well spent as I found these parts of the book very interesting and not off-putting at all.
I would highly recommend this book to lovers of a good cozy mystery, and I will definitely be reading more in this series as they appear.