PERDITION HOUSE: A Bay Tanner Mystery

Kathryn R. Wall, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-312-31385-2

Perhaps only a Southerner would credit the claim of kinship from a "half fifth cousin," especially one whose introductory phone call comes from the county jail where she's charged with vagrancy. But Lydia Baynard Simpson Tanner, better known as "Bay," does, with serious consequences, in Wall's third Low Country (South Carolina) mystery (after 2002's And Not a Penny More). With a rich family history and some wealth to go with it, Bay is still coming to terms with her husband's murder. Bay and her father, retired judge Talbot Simpson, and Erik Whiteside, a young computer whiz, operate Simpson & Tanner Inquiry Agents, a kind of quasi-detective agency. Bay's "shirttail" cousin, Mercer Mary Prescott, comes with a lot of baggage, baggage that will endanger them all. Abandoned by her mother, raised by foster parents, married (maybe) at a young age to a violent man, Mercer is a powder keg. Bay will make some surprising discoveries about the family tree and find some unexpected strengths in some of its members. Wall nicely blends the manners and mores of the aristocratic Southern tradition with more modern sensibilities, creating in Bay Tanner a woman who's equally at home in the tea room or out jogging. Despite a somewhat sprawling plot and less than scintillating prose, fans of cozier regional mysteries will be well pleased. (June 2)

Reviewed on: 05/05/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-1-933523-16-3
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4299-3117-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-312-99824-0
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