cover image Smarty Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery

Smarty Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery

Carolyn Haines. Minotaur, $24.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-64188-7

At the start of Haines’s hokey 13th Sarah Booth Delaney mystery (after 2012’s Bonefire of the Vanities), Dr. Olive Twist, a professor at a prestigious New England college, arrives in Zinnia, Miss., to investigate the 150-year-old exhumed corpse of the Lady in Red—a mysterious beauty whose enigmatic past may connect prominent local families to a Lincoln assassination attempt. Eager to share this theory with anyone within earshot, Olive ruffles local feathers. Scandal and PI Sarah Booth arrive on the scene when the body of Olive’s assistant is discovered poisoned in Olive’s hotel room. Jitty, Sarah Booth’s whimsical ghost confidante, serves up some comic relief. While Olive offers predictable stereotypes of Southern culture, the natives react in such hackneyed and simplistic ways that some readers may feel Olive’s complaints are justified. Cheery prose is a plus, but an improbable antebellum twist will dismay some historians. Agent: Marian Young, the Young Agency. (May)