The second book in the Darling Dahlias series, published July 2011.
Rumors are sprouting in Depression-era Darling, Alabama. The town's newest visitors, Nona Jean Jamison and Miss Lake, may be the Naughty and Nice Sisters from the Ziegfeld Frolic, who specialize in dancing nearly naked.
The Dahlias suspect more than modesty when Nona denies her association. They'll have to dig through clues to get to the root of the mystery...
The Darling Dahlia’s are a ladies gardening club, with their own clubhouse and meetings, fundraisers and everything. And at this meeting, they are discussing the upcoming talent show, they really need a few more new acts, as everyone has already seen the acts on the program for the last few years.
Old Mrs Hamer has a niece over from Chicago with a lady friend, but Verna is suspicious. Is she really her niece? And why is that other lady hiding in her room, even taking her meals there? And why is she buying so much sleeping medicine at the drugstore? So when she recognizes Nona Jean Jamison as none other than Lorelei LaMotte, the half of the Naughty and Nice Sisters, a sexy vaudeville act she saw ten years ago in New York, in Mr Ziegfeld’s Frolic. And with a few more clothes on, wouldn’t that be a great act for their talent show?
But when confronted, Nona Jean denies being this Lorelei, and acts aggressive and frightened. So what’s up with that? And Lizzy sees her chance for a great personal interest for the local newspaper fade away. Local girl became famous on Broadway, and is now back in town to take care of her sick old aunt? If she denies to be Lorelei LaMotte, she won’t cooperate with an interview either.
But there is more going on, a suspicious person is asking questions, Nona Jean, who is a gorgeous platinum blonde, is getting her hair dyed brown, and dressing seriously down. So Verna and Lizzy just have to find out the truth. And as Verna loves nothing better than reading crime magazines, she knows just how to do that …
But who could suspect they would be getting themselves involved with the most famous criminal of their time?
And of course there are some storylines about Lizzy, who’s mother is threatening to move in with her, in her new tiny cozy cottage. Horrible! How can she prevent that from happening, when the bank is foreclosing on her mother’s house next week, and her mother only now tells her? And then there is Myra May Moswell, another Darling Dahlia, and co-owner of the Darling Diner and the Telephone Exchange. Her friend and co-owner Violet has gone to help her sister who is about to give birth, and she sorely misses her. When the sister dies, and the father can’t care of the baby girl, what is she to do? What if Violet doesn’t come back, but decides to stay in Chicago?
And then there is Bessie, owner of the Magnolia House for older ladies. Did her fiancée realy run off thirty years ago? And why? They didn’t have a fight, he never said goodbye, never wrote a letter.
A lovely new book by Susan Wittig Albert. The series is set in the fictional town of Darling, Alabama, in the 1930’s, when times are tough, jobs are scarce, and people are worried about what lies ahead. (Sentence mostly quoted from the authors webpage).
Times were so different back then, but Susan really captured the spirit of it. You really feel like you are walking right alongside the women, looking in their gardens and homes, and small town lives. Everything is lovingly described, and you instantly click with the characters. Not as many as in the first instalment, where we had to get to know them all first.
The mystery was not that hard to figure out, but it was very nicely done. I don’t know what else to write, I just really liked the book. The writing style, the characters, the pacing. And there was even some excitement.
In the back of the book, there are some cheap old-fashioned cleaning tips, and some delicious recipes.
p.s. The naked ladies are a kind of leafless lillies, not real ladies ;)