cover image The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O’Clock Lady

The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O’Clock Lady

Susan Wittig Albert. Berkley Prime Crime, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-425-26062-3

The discovery of the body of telephone switchboard operator Rona Jean Hancock, sprawled across a car’s front seat with a silk stocking wound tightly around her neck, propels bestseller Albert’s thoroughly enjoyable sixth Darling Dahlias mystery (after 2014’s The Darling Dahlias and the Silver Bush). Rona Jean (aka the Eleven O’Clock lady because her shift ended at that hour) may have been friendlier than she should have been with menfolk, and she had a nasty habit of listening in on phone conversations, but she didn’t deserve to be murdered. The new sheriff of Darling, Ala., Buddy Norris, who’s conducting his first major investigation, has plenty of suspects, including two local boys as well as men from the nearby Civilian Conservation Corps camp. The members of the Darling Dahlias garden club help to unearth the truth. Albert does a beautiful job of blending a whodunit with a vivid portrait of an idyllic Depression-era Southern town. (Sept.)