Arkansas Traveler (Benni Harper Series #8) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Soon after arriving in Sugartree, Arkansas—where she spent many lazy, languid childhood summers—folk art expert Benni Harper discovers that there's something seriously sinister brewing in this usually-peaceful town...
Read More Show Less
... See more details below
Arkansas Traveler (Benni Harper Series #8)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$7.99
BN.com price

Overview

Soon after arriving in Sugartree, Arkansas—where she spent many lazy, languid childhood summers—folk art expert Benni Harper discovers that there's something seriously sinister brewing in this usually-peaceful town...
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Folk-art expert Benni Harper is thrilled to be back in Sugartree, Arkansas, with her friend Elvira, who's this close to getting engaged to Benni's cousin. But Benni's got a bad feeling that she just can't shake, and soon she knows why. Racism has come to Sugartree and it's rearing its ugly head as the merger of two churches with racially mixed congregations comes under fire, and the first black woman to run for mayor faces opposition from a gang of white supremacists. And when one of the supremacists gets himself killed, Benni gets snagged by a murder mystery, unraveling clues that form a very shocking pattern.
Houston Chronicle
The sweet sentimentality of this paean to small Southern towns...is the glaze that holds this story together.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
If your image of quilters is that of old ladies whiling away the hours in rocking chairs or at looms, then perhaps you've not met Benni Harper, the frisky director of the Josiah Sinclair Folk Art museum in San Celina, Calif. In her eighth winning outing (after 2000's Seven Sisters), Benni returns to her hometown of Sugartree, Ark., accompanied by her friend Elvia, and finds relatives and friends embroiled in racial, religious and romantic rivalries that turn their reunion into disunion. Sugartree, population 5,000, has its share of bigots, hidden and overt, and two events have already stirred them up. Benni's friend Amen Tolliver, a black woman, is running for mayor against wealthy white incumbent Grady Hunter. And Sugartree's two Baptist churches, one black, one white, are discussing a merger that has deeply divided both congregations. Being Hispanic, both Elvia and Benni's husband, Gabe Ortiz, attract unwelcome attention after Gabe's arrival, threatening the blooming romance between Elvia and Benni's cousin Emory. When the ugliness leads to murder, Amen's election chances are jeopardized and an innocent young man is arrested. However, there are also plenty of decent people in Sugartree and a lot of great food, memories and humor. Benni needs all her vaunted spunk to solve a killing that threatens to scar the town she loves, as Fowler delivers cozy entertainment without resorting to unrealistically syrupy solutions. (Apr. 10) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Benni Harper (Seven Sisters, 2000, etc.) has come a long way from Blevins County, Arkansas, where she spent much of her youth eating cheese grits and raising hell with her cousin Emory Littleton and best friend Amen Tolliver in the poky little town of Sugartree. Now a museum curator married to sexy police chief Gabriel Ortiz, of San Celina, California, sophisticated Benni, back for a family reunion, can snicker along with her chic amiga Elvia Aragon-who's engaged to Emory and who's come with Benni to meet her family-at the pig-snout headgear on the Razorback fans who gather for breakfast at the local Waffle House. Grown-up Benni can shake her head in wonder as her ever-competitive Grandma Dove and Aunt Garnet end up making duplicate breakfasts for the family. Broadminded Benni can sympathize as the members of Sugartree Baptist Church consider shoring up their dwindling congregation through a merger with predominantly black church. But activist Benni can't ignore the slights and slurs aimed at dark-skinned folk, including her beloved Gabe, Elvia, and Amen, by some of Sugartree's townsfolk-loudest among them Toby Hunter, son of mayor Grady Hunter, whom Amen has the audacity to challenge in the current election. So when Toby is bludgeoned to death and Amen's nephew Quinton is arrested, what choice does Benni have but to ignore her husband's warning and search for Toby's killer? Not so much an Arkansas Traveler as a Log Cabin quilt marked by endless repetition: Racism bad, Benni clever, you can't go home again.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101204160
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/1/2001
  • Series: Benni Harper Mystery , #8
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 95,816
  • File size: 475 KB

Meet the Author

Earlene Fowler
Earlene Fowler was raised in La Puente, California, by a Southern mother and a Western father. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Allen, a large number of quilts, and twenty pairs of cowboy boots.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


The big-chested man sitting at the crowded Waffle House counter wearing the red plastic hog-head hat grinned and winked at Elvia. Her full lips, painted an eerily similar shade of crimson, shot him a frown worthy of Queen Victoria. He chuckled and whispered something to his friend, who wore not only a hog hat, but a red-and-gray sweatshirt stating, BEWARE, I HAVE HOG MANIA.

    "I've had enough," Elvia said, pulling her beige cashmere cardigan closer around her. "You can take me home now."

    I laughed and eagerly perused the sticky plastic menu. It had been way too long since I'd eaten a gut-busting Waffle House breakfast. When we pulled out of Little Rock's airport parking lot, my first glimpse of the towering black-and-yellow Waffle House sign caused me to cajole my friend into the restaurant's pure plastic interior. Waffle House restaurants were a Southern staple, something of a cross between a Denny's and a donut shop. I loved their unadorned, stick-to-your-ribs, grease-is-good workingman's food. Truth be told, there were cold mornings fixing fence in San Celina when I'd trade my best broke-in Justin boots for a mess of their hash browns.

    "We just landed an hour ago," I said. "Give Arkansas at least twenty-four hours before you hightail it for the hills."

    "Benni, we are sitting in a restaurant, the term loosely applying, being gawked at by grown men wearing plastic pig faces on their heads. Need I say more?" She grabbed a napkin from the dispenser and irritably scrubbed at a dried eggspot on the table. "I can't believe I agreed to come with you."

    "Elvia, it's October. Hog hats are a fashion statement this time of year. No one looks twice at anyone wearing one. It's football season, and they're probably still high from yesterday's triumph over 'Bama."

    "What's a bama?"

    "University of Alabama. The Arkansas Razorbacks kicked their Crimson Tide butts 27 to 6. The tide is ebbin', and I can't wait to lord it over Amanda." I stirred my coffee, licked my dented spoon, then pointed it at her. "Even the most sophisticated Little Rock executives wear their hog hats with pride." I didn't dare let on that her beloved Emory, of the Perry Ellis suits and Hugo Boss ties, my own dear cousin who we were about to see in the next few hours, had a deluxe, custom-made hog hat that he treasured and wore to games and football parties without an ounce of embarrassment. The eyes lit up and glowed red when he pressed a hidden button. He was the envy of all his equally fanatic Razorback friends. "Besides, you said you wanted to see Emory on his home turf before your relationship went any further. Razorback football is a muy grande part of his turf. But I promise it's not the only thing. You'll love Sugartree." I gave her a reassuring smile.

    She rolled her dark brown eyes, not believing me a moment.

    "Then you love Emory. That should cover a multitude of fashion sins."

    Her stiff expression softened, corroborating my words. It had only been in the last month that she'd finally been able to admit she was in love with my fifth cousin, who was more like a brother to me. The day she admitted she cared for him, that their relationship had "possibilities," he burst into my office at the Josiah Sinclair Folk Art museum, where I worked as curator, and danced me around the room singing "Goin' to the Chapel ..."

    Emory had been in love with Elvia for twenty-four years, since the summer he was eleven and I was twelve. He had come to visit my family on our ranch outside San Celina on the Central Coast of California to heal from his mother's recent death. Twenty-three years later, he'd moved back out West specifically to woo and win her hand in marriage. After a year of persistence, it looked like he was finally in the homestretch. Though she didn't know it, the first month he came to San Celina he'd bought a two-carat, emerald-cut, platinum-set, blue diamond engagement ring. At thirty-six, I was finally going to be a matron of honor in my best friend's wedding. If everything went as planned, that is.

    "I can't believe I let you talk me into this," she repeated, smiling this time. "But it does feel as if he's been gone for weeks, not days." For Elvia, that was as close as she was going to get to a confession of undying love and devotion to a man.

    Emory had come to Sugartree three days earlier to help our great-aunt Garnet, Uncle WW, and his daddy, Boone Littleton, get ready for Sugartree Baptist Church's Homecoming festivities. Besides experiencing the beautiful state of Arkansas for the first time, Elvia was going to her first church homecoming, which is basically like a huge family reunion. Every person who's ever been a member of the church (including those who left under less than stellar circumstances ... homecomings were supposed to be a time of all-encompassing and retroactive forgiveness) comes back and catches up with those who stayed. Homecomings usually took place about once every ten years, and this year was a particularly special one since it was celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the church.

    "He's called me four times a day since he left," Elvia said, trying unsuccessfully to hide her pleased expression. Ideas for silly bridal shower games started swirling around my head.

    "Men in love, they're something else." I sighed, remembering that intense time when you first discover you're in love. Gabriel Ortiz, my own very sexy, blue-eyed second husband, could still inspire that longing in me, even after two years together.

    Our waitress, a Waffle House classic in black pants and maroon apron with a wide cheerful smile and champagne-blond hair sprayed as stiff as our plastic menus, sidled up to our table.

    "What'll it be, girls?" she asked, gazing curiously at Elvia. There was no doubt Elvia was going to stand out in a state where the two major cultural groups were African-American and Anglo. Drop-your-jaw gorgeous and elegant as a Town and Country fashion ad in her cashmere sweater set and black wool pants, she was also the only dark brown skin in the cafe. From my trips as a child, I knew there were not an overwhelming number of Hispanics in Arkansas, and those who lived here tended to keep to themselves. Not for the first time did I wonder how the primarily white and black population of Sugartree was going to react to my best friend.

    We gave the waitress our orders, and she yelled out, "Double order—scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, topped, diced, and peppered. And one piece of toast." She gave Elvia another curious look. "Hon, are you sure you don't want anything else? Why, that little ole piece of bread wouldn't make a maggot fat."

    Elvia's upper lip twitched in horror at the woman's graphic word picture. "Thank you, no. The toast will be fine. Butter on the side, please. What type of herbal teas do you carry?"

    I snickered behind my plastic menu.

    The waitress's mouth twisted in a crooked smile. "I'm sorry, ma'am, all's we have is Lipton."

    Elvia gave a small sigh. "All right, then, please just bring me some fresh-squeezed orange juice, low pulp. Thank you."

    "Excuse me?" the waitress said, her pencil frozen over her order pad. "Is she serious?"

    "As a funeral," I said, giving her an apologetic grin. "Just bring her the Lipton. And an extra plate, please. We'll share my hash browns."

    "Over my dead body," Elvia said when the waitress was out of earshot. "And what was all that she yelled about your potatoes?"

    "Scattered means hash browns. Smothered is onions, covered is cheese, chunked is ham, topped is chili, diced is tomatoes, and peppered is jalapeño peppers. I ordered the peppers in honor of your Mexican heritage." I grinned at her.

    She grimaced back. "Do they come with a side of Tagamet? The toast will be fine."

    "Emory loves Waffle Houses."

    She glanced around the brown-and-orange decor, shifting uncomfortably in the molded plastic bench seat. Metal ashtrays sat proudly on every table. Practical round globe lights dangled over every booth. The air inside was so cold condensation rolled down the windows in long decorative drips in an effort to combat the often still-muggy Arkansas mid-October weather. It was standing-room-only at the counter this late-afternoon hour with men sporting watermelon-sized stomachs, gimme caps jammed on their heads advertising everything from Ozark's Best hog feed to Wal-Mart to Bubba Paul's Pulled Pork BBQ to Napa Auto Parts.

    "Then let's hope they never covet the California market," she said.

    Just as I'd almost finished my double order of hash browns, even convincing Elvia to take a bite or two ("You make me eat menudo every year," I reminded her), the hog hat men stopped briefly at our table.

    "Woo Pig Soieee!" The man in the sweatshirt gave the official Razorback call. "Here you go, ladies." He tossed a red-and-white lapel button on our table.

    "Go, Hogs," I replied with a smile. He touched the rim of hishog hat and dipped his head.

    Elvia picked up the button, frowning at the backs of the laughing men. It said, "Hogs Smell Good."

    "¡Ay!" She closed her eyes for a second. "I want to go home."

    "It's going to be fine," I said, taking the button from her hand and pinning it on my T-shirt. "You're going to have a ball."

    "¡Ay!" she moaned, then crossed herself and muttered a quick Hail Mary.

Hope Meadows
Real-Life Stories of Healing and Caring from an Inspiring Community


By WES SMITH

BERKLEY BOOKS

Copyright © 2001 Wes Smith. All rights reserved.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 14, 2012

    Fun mystery story to read.

    Earlene Fowler does not disappoint with this next adventure of Benni Harper. I have enjoyed watching the characters develop through the series. You feel you know each and every member of Benni's extended family. It is always nice to have an inside track with the police chief as your husband!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2005

    can't get enough!!!

    I have read 13 of the 14 Benni Harper series in the last three weeks. I just love Earlene's writings. I only have one more and will have to wait until next year for next and continuing saga of Benni & Gabe.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2001

    Great southern comfort!

    This installment in the Bennie Harper series is absolutely wonderful. The continuing saga of Bennie and Gabe, Emory and Elvia, and Dove and Issac is fantastic. I LOVE these characters! I hope the series continues for a long time to come. Bring it on Earlene!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Benni Harper mystery

    As a child, Benni Harper of San Celina, California spent summers with relatives living in Sugartime, Arkansas. Benni has always looked back fondly to those days and hopes to recapture much of that feeling with her first visit in over a decade.<P> The hot issue in Sugartime is the close mayoral race between a Black woman and a good ole boy. Benni is stunned to observe the bigotry that is blatant and hostile. The current mayor¿s son Toby Hunter leads a force intimidating anyone opposing the reelection of his father. This eventually forces his opponent Amen to withdraw from the race. Not long afterward, someone murders Toby and though he had a lot of enemies, the police lean towards Amen¿s nephew as the prime suspect. In spite of the objection of the local authorities, Benni begins her own inquiries into the homicide. <P>Reading ARKANSAS TRAVELER is an accurate account of a divided community still unable to come to grips on racial harmony even as individuals have moved forward for the betterment of everyone. A Benni Harper mystery is always fun as readers revisit characters from the previous novels who are friends that keep growing as happens in this story. With her marriage still strong to Ortiz, the audience sees a glimpse of the heroine¿s past inside an enjoyable who-done-it. <P>Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)