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Murder Gets a Life (Southern Sisters Series #5)
     

Murder Gets a Life (Southern Sisters Series #5)

4.6 21
by Anne George
 

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Patricia Anne can't imagine why Mary Alice is in such an uproar over her son Ray's new bride. Sunshine Dabbs is Ucute as can be," even if she is a bit unconventional, which should hardly come as a shock to Mary Alicc given that she's the one who raised her boy. But with all her motherly instincts, Mary Alice is sure that this sweet little blonde Barbie doll—

Overview

Patricia Anne can't imagine why Mary Alice is in such an uproar over her son Ray's new bride. Sunshine Dabbs is Ucute as can be," even if she is a bit unconventional, which should hardly come as a shock to Mary Alicc given that she's the one who raised her boy. But with all her motherly instincts, Mary Alice is sure that this sweet little blonde Barbie doll—who met her son in Bora Bora after she won the trip on Wheel of Fortune—thinks she's found herself a fortune in Ray's hefty wallet.

The sisters can't wait to get a look at Sunshine's family, and quite a look it turns out to be. As soon as Meemaw Turkett invites Mary Alice and Patricia Anne into her cozy trailer on the family compound they stumble over a corpse, and Meemaw's best hog butchering knife is stuck in its chest. Meemaw, a Cabbage Patch look-alike and Sunshine's grandmother, guardian, and the family matriarch is shocked to pieces and immediately summons the family to her trailer. Pawpaw, a lovable bearded grump has his own trailer, and their grown kids each enjoy a private home-away-from-home on the five-trailer compound.

The discovery of the mysterious body brings in Mary Alice's nemesis, good ol' boy Sheriff Reuse, who, she knows from her experience at the Skoot 'n' Boot, is nothing but trouble. Within minutes, the compound is strewn with a weird collection of friends, neighbors and relatives. There's Meemaw's spooky channeler, ready to give guidance as needed; Sunshine's jilted boyfriend skulking around; a bunch of dogs ready to attack...and Kerrigan, Sunshine's mostly absentee mama, who stars in the kind of video flicks that might even shock Mary Alice. Patricia Anne can't imagine why Mary Aliceis in such an uproar over her son Ray's new bride. Sunshine Dabbs is cute as can be," even if she is a bit unconventional, which should hardly come as a shock to Mary Alicc given that she's the one who raised her boy. But with all her motherly instincts, Mary Alice is sure that this sweet little blonde Barbie doll—who met her son in Bora Bora after she won the trip on Wheel of Fortune—thinks she's found herself a fortune in Ray's hefty wallet.

The sisters can't wait to get a look at Sunshine's family, and quite a look it turns out to be. As soon as Meemaw Turkett invites Mary Alice and Patricia Anne into her cozy trailer on the family compound they stumble over a corpse, and Meemaw's best hog butchering knife is stuck in its chest. Meemaw, a Cabbage Patch look-alike and Sunshine's grandmother, guardian, and the family matriarch is shocked to pieces and immediately summons the family to her trailer. Pawpaw, a lovable bearded grump has his own trailer, and their grown kids each enjoy a private home-away-from-home on the five-trailer compound.

The discovery of the mysterious body brings in Mary Alice's nemesis, good ol' boy Sheriff Reuse, who, she knows from her experience at the Skoot 'n' Boot, is nothing but trouble. Within minutes, the compound is strewn with a weird collection of friends, neighbors and relatives. There's Meemaw's spooky channeler, ready to give guidance as needed; Sunshine's jilted boyfriend skulking around; a bunch of dogs ready to attack...and Kerrigan, Sunshine's mostly absentee mama, who stars in the kind of video flicks that might even shock Mary Alice.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
In the breezy, very funny Murder Gets a Life, the fifth Southern Sisters mystery from Alabama writer Anne George, petite, married Patricia Ann and her thrice-widowed amazon of a sister discover that murder's a family affair, thanks to Mary Alice's new in-laws. There's a corpse with a hog-butchering knife stuck in his chest, but plot's hardly the point in a story chock-full of engaging characters and knowing humor. When Patricia Ann wonders if the murder victim was married, Mary Alice says, "Probably, his clothes matched."

—Nancy Pate

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's a little too long, but this rich, engrossing novel portrays a contemporary England that's culturally complex and simmering with tension. The star is moody police sergeant Barbara Havers, who's on leave from New Scotland Yard to recuperate from injuries suffered in In the Presence of the Enemy (1996) while Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Helen Clyde honeymoon. When her neighbors, microbiologist Taymullah Azhar and his endearing young daughter, Hadiyyah, leave London to visit his family in Balford-le-Nez on the Essex coast, Havers follows themout of boredom, curiosity and a little suspicion. She's also concerned for Hadiyyah, aware of riots that followed the recent murder of a Pakistani immigrant in Balford. In Balford, Chief Detective Inspector Emily Barlow asks Havers to help investigate the crime that sparked those riots. The murdered man, Haytham Querashi, was engaged to the daughter of Azhar's wealthy uncle, the sister of a hot-headed Muslim activist named Muhannad. Although the killing has racial overtones, other motives ariselove, jealousy, sexuality, religion, greed. Smuggling, burglary and other crimes also come to light. Hidden in the plot are subtle clues to the solution, which hinges on Muslim law and tradition. Havers astutely identifies the murderer but risks her career when she countermands orders from the ambitious, bigoted Barlow during a heart-stopping boat chase in the North Sea. This is an unusually elaborate and intricate mystery, but George keeps an unrelenting grip on her readers as the police constantly shift their focus among a dozen well-drawn suspects. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Those effervescent sisters from Birmingham, big Patricia Anne and little Mary Alice, strike again (following Murder Makes Waves, LJ 7/97). While snooping into the backwoods background of Patricia's son's intended, they discover a dead body in the family trailer. Great fun!
School Library Journal
YADetective Barbara Havers is now on her own. Her partner, the glamorous Lord Lynley, and the even more glamorous Lady Helen are off on their honeymoon and the decidedly less-than-glamorous Havers is to recuperate from extensive wounds suffered in their previous case. She declines an invitation by her neighbor and good friend, eight-year-old Hadiyyah, to join her and her somewhat remote professorial father on a trip to the seaside. Somewhat to her chagrin, however, Havers finds herself worrying about the ostensibly naive father as she hears disturbing news of murder and racial unrest in the same coastal town. She goes to Balford only to land in the middle of a tangled web woven around the murder of the fianc of the young daughter of a wealthy Pakistani business man. The plot is well developed, the red herrings many and varied, and the social commentary on the racial unease in England is well handled. Havers emerges as a more sympathetic character here, and readers get the feeling she is beginning to "get a life." YAs will enjoy the engrossing mystery with deft characterizations.Susan H. Woodcock, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
Emily Melton
George is a gifted writer who spins rich, colorful, mesmerizing, multifaceted stories that combine an absorbing mystery with provocative insights into her characters' innermost thoughts and emotions. Her latest story once again features Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his sidekick, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers. Chalk and cheese when it comes to background, philosophy, style, and personality, Lynley and Havers easily forget their differences when a tough homicide needs solving--take, for example, the asphyxiation death of renowned, all-England cricket player Kenneth Fleming. The duo's inquiries turn up some disturbing facts about the cricket star. Not only was his personal life a shambles, but he had a very odd relationship with a former teacher. The case is more byzantine than any Lynley and Havers have encountered in their years as a crack homicide team, and even when they've identified Fleming's killer, the file isn't really closed. As usual, there's more to think about in George's story than simply whodunit. Readers will be astounded by the ease with which she weaves complex relationships and provocative moral, emotional, and ethical questions into the compelling plot. Another tour de force from one of today's best storytellers.
Kirkus Reviews
Those Alabama sisters' Mary Alice (Sister) Crane, unattached after three marriages, and Patricia Anne (Mouse) Hollowell, happily married to Fred's are again involved in murder and misery, this time very close to home (Murder Makes Waves, etc.). Sister's son Ray, who leads diving expeditions off his boat in Bora Bora, has married Sunshine Dabbs, of the Turkett clan in Locust Fork, not far from his mother's home. Sunshine won the trip to Bora Bora on Wheel of Fortune and has now returned home, soon to be followed by Ray and his boat co-worker Buck Owens. The sisters, sneakily checking out Sunshine's background, find her family's encampment of trailers and, in the one belonging to Grandma Meemaw, stumble over the body of a man stabbed to death. Meanwhile, Sunshine has vanished, leaving behind a bloody nightgown. The corpse is of one Dudley Cross, who dressed up as an Indian chief and cadged change at the entrance to Crystal Caverns. Sunshine's mother Kerrigan is a porn star; her grandfather Pawpaw has his own trailer, as do her brothers Howard and Eddie. While a heat wave sizzles and Sheriff Reuse flounders about, there's a phone call from Sunshine, followed by occasional sightings. Not until the sisters are kidnaped does a powerful murder motive surface, and their mettle is once again tested to the max. The plot rambles off-focus for much of the time and limps to its less-than-riveting conclusion, but characters and conversation are the thing here, and the author manages to keep both robustly entertaining. Fresh and funny.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380975587
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/01/1998
Series:
Southern Sisters Series , #5
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
5.84(w) x 8.62(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Mary Alice and I grinned at each other. We each have three children, all in their thirties now (Dear God! Sister's Marilyn and Freddie, our oldest, would soon be forty!), but with the exception of my middle child, Alan, who has two teenaged boys, none of the others has been in a hurry to produce grandchildren for us to spoil.

"Is Sunshine's family going to be there tomorrow night?" I asked.

"Not her mother. She's out of town. Meemaw will, though."

"Meemaw?"

"That's what she called her. Her grandmother."

"I'm assuming Meemaw has a name."

Mary Alice frowned. "And I don't know what it is. It was 'Meemaw this' and 'Meemaw that' and I forgot to ask. How do you think I can find out? I hate to introduce her as Meemaw Dabbs. You know? God, I can't believe Ray has done this."

"It wouldn't be Meemaw Dabbs, anyway. Not if she's Sunshine's mother's mother."

Mary Alice stirred her tea with her finger. "True."

From outside, I could hear my old Woofer dog barking. It was too hot for him to be getting excited about anything; I needed to go put some ice in his water bowl. But just at that moment, a cloud crossed the sun. A precursor of the usual late afternoon August thunderstorms. I watched Sister stir her tea; my shoulders ached and I was suddenly very sleepy.

"Hey!" she said.

I jumped a mile.

"Locust Fork's in Blount County, isn't it?"

"I don't know. Why?"

"Reckon how many people live there?"

"Not many, I wouldn't think."

"I'll bet I know someone who knows Meemaw's name."

"Who?"

"Sheriff Reuse.I'll bet that martinet knows everybody's dog's name and if they've had their rabies shots."

"Call him," I said. "He'll be thrilled to hear from you." My sister and Sheriff Reuse had met the year before when she had gotten a wild hair and bought a country-western bar renamed the Skoot 'n' Boot. Nothing but trouble. Suffice it to say she and Sheriff Reuse were not soul mates.

"You're being sarcastic, but I bet he'll be happy to hear from me. That man leads a boring life, Patricia Anne."

"Hmmm." What could I say?

"Where's your phone book?"

I located it under the newspaper that was spread on the kitchen counter and followed her into the den. This I wanted to hear.

I got the one-sided version, of course, but it went some thing like this:

Mary Alice (butter-melting voice): "Sheriff Reuse? How are you? It's so nice to hear your voice! This is Mary Alice Crane." (Pause. Voice still sweet.) No everything's fine. No, I haven't invested in any more property up there. I know, though I really don't feel responsible for what happened."

(Long pause. Voice not as sweet.) "What I need to know is if you know a family in Locust Fork by the name of Dabbs." (Pause.) "No, I am not buying their property, I assure you." (Nod.) "Sunshine Dabbs is the child's name. Well, it's Sunshine Crane now. She and my son Ray just got married in Bora Bora." (Pause.) "Bora Bora in the South Pacific." (Another nod.) "Yes. And what I need to know is the grandmother's name. All I know is 'Meemaw' and I'm having a dinner party tomorrow night and it would be embarrassing to have to introduce my new daughter-in-law's grandmother and not know her name." (Pause.) "Yes, my son married Sunshine Dabbs. The dinner is tomorrow night. Of course Meemaw is invited." (Disgusted look at me. Holds the phone away from her ear.) "He's laughing."

"Sheriff Reuse doesn't laugh."

"Well, he's putting on a damn good imitation." She handed the phone to me. The sheriff was either laughing, crying, or choking to death.

"Sheriff Reuse?" I asked. "This is Patricia Anne Hollowell. Is something wrong?"

"Turkett," he gasped finally.

"What?"

"Turkett. Her name is Turkett."

"Like little turkey? Turkett?"

"There is a God." The gargling sounds started again and the line went dead.

Mary Alice and I looked at each other.

"What on God's earth do you suppose that was about?" she asked.

"I have no idea. He said there was a God and hung up. Oh, and he said her name was Turkett."

"What Turkett?"

"I don't know. He was laughing too hard." I held out the phone. "You want to call him back?"

"Turkett?"

"Like little turkey. And then he said there was a God and hung up."

"Meemaw Turkett?"

"Maybe Sunshine will say her name."

Mary Alice put the phone back on the end table. "Shouldn't have called that fool anyway."

"True." I meant it.

She got up. "Y'all come about seven. Okay?"

"I'm looking forward to it," I said truthfully.

Sister started out the back door. "What are y'all having for supper tonight?"

"Lean Cuisines if Fred doesn't stop by Morrison's Cafeteria."

"The paint smells too loud in here to eat anyway."

"We'll probably take it to the bedroom. Eat in bed."

"You wish."

I was shutting the door when she turned around. "Turkett? You're sure?"

I nodded.

"Reckon why he was laughing so? There's nothing wrong with that name. Not Smith or Jones, but it's a fine name."

I shrugged. Sheriff Reuse's laugh had been disconcerting to say the least.

From the west came the first rumble of thunder. I waved at Mary Alice and shut the door. Meemaw Turkett? I grabbed the paintbrush and climbed back on the counter. Lord!

Meet the Author

Anne George (c.____ - 2001) was the Agatha Award-winning author of the Southern Sisters mystery series which culminate in Murder Boogies with Elvis, publishing in August 2001. Like Patricia Anne, she was a happily married former school teacher living in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. George was also a former Alabama State Poet and a regular contributor to literary publications. During her lifetime she was nominated for several awards, including the Pulitzer. Being a true lady of the Old South, her date of birth will forever be a mystery.

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Murder Gets a Life (Southern Sisters Series #5) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
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jackowal More than 1 year ago
The ladies are great and it was a cute story line. Will read more books from this author.
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maryrabbit More than 1 year ago
I enjoy reading this series of books. The characters seem very real, like they are your friends or someone down the street. The books are easy to read and entertaining.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading Anne George's novels is just like being in alabama, all the characters are just like a da javu to me, it's like i've been with these people before, down to the pets!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have now read all of the Anne George books and loved every one of them. Her writing style is so down-to-earth and comfortable. These books are laugh-out-loud type books. In her honor, my family is naming our new dog, Woofer. I will miss not being able to read about the escapades of Mary Alice and Mouse any more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first Anne George book I had read and of course I had to get the rest. Being from Dothan Alabama I can relate to the jargon. This book comes alive and makes you feel you know the sisters and they welcome you in. It made me laugh so hard I had tears running down my face. All of Annes's book are simply wonderful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book! The author's style is entertaining, consistent and definitely engaging. Her characters come to life and add many turns and twists to her stories that give the reader much more than just local color.