To Live & Die in Dixie (Callahan Garrity Series #2)

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When Callahan and her eccentric band of employees clean the Atlanta mansion of social climbing antiques dealer Elliot Littlefield, they find more than cobwebs and dust bunnies: a bust of Hitler in the study, flintlocks in the foyer, and a dead teenage girl in the master bedroom. What they don't find (because it's been stolen) is the diary of Lula Belle Bird, a prostitute who kept many a Confederate bigwig happy during the Civil War's darkest days. The diary, conservatively valued at $150,000, has been hotly ...
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A To Live & Die In Dixie: Callahan Garrity Mystery

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Overview

When Callahan and her eccentric band of employees clean the Atlanta mansion of social climbing antiques dealer Elliot Littlefield, they find more than cobwebs and dust bunnies: a bust of Hitler in the study, flintlocks in the foyer, and a dead teenage girl in the master bedroom. What they don't find (because it's been stolen) is the diary of Lula Belle Bird, a prostitute who kept many a Confederate bigwig happy during the Civil War's darkest days. The diary, conservatively valued at $150,000, has been hotly pursued by everyone from university libraries to a lunatic Civil War buff. Littlefield is convinced that the diary's theft had something to do with the murder of the girl and he hires Callahan to find the book and, perhaps, the truth. As her search progresses, Callahan takes us on a rollicking tour of the New South, from the woolly world of Civil War reenactments to Rebel Yell Press (whose offices look like a cross between Tara and a Chevy dealership), from a carpetbagger's castle to an inner-city shotgun shack. Along the way, Callahan gets chilling glimpses of her landscape's underside: shady sexual doings at the slain girl's prim Catholic high school, a suave neighbor whose feud with Littlefield borders on psychosis, and the fact that Littlefield killed another girl two decades ago. At the center of all this is Callahan herself, bickering with her irascible mother, Edna, trying to keep a lid on the splendidly evoked eccentrics in her employ, taking a highly experimental anti-cancer drug, weighing the pros and cons of moving in with her beau, and narrowly dodging threats on her life. Nobody knows more about life and death in Dixie than Callahan Garrity and her story - wry, taut, and richly detailed - makes for addictive reading.

Following her sensational debut in Every Crooked Nanny, housecleaner and occasional P.I. Callahan Garrity uncovers some deadly messes in an Atlanta mansion, including a bloody body in the bedroom. "Memorable Southern personalities and on-target dialogue lift this appealing whodunit well above the norm."--Publishers Weekly.

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Editorial Reviews

Martin Brady
It's talky, contrived, and too long--but that doesn't mean that this mystery, modeled somewhat after the infinitely better Kinsey Millhone books by Sue Grafton, won't appeal to a solid core of readers. Trocheck's second whodunit starring Callahan Garrity, ex-cop turned cleaning-service entrepreneur cum private detective, finds her heroine involved in the recovery of stolen Civil War collectibles, the murder of a teenage girl, and some dirty dealings by a supposedly benevolent, not-for-profit group finding creative ways to house the homeless. The Atlanta setting, while not artfully rendered, certainly rings true enough, and Trocheck keeps the suspects in and out of the limelight effectively until the real culprits are brought to justice. The novel suffers a bit from stereotyping: every man in the book (save for Callahan's vaguely liberated main squeeze, Mac) is a bit of a jerk, and every women who's not in Callahan's coterie of plucky house cleaners is a bit of a bimbette or just plain pathetic. Callahan's crusty old mom, Edna, does, however, try to keep the proceedings in the proper perspective with her sardonic wit. Not the best but certainly not the worst in the ever-burgeoning ranks of mystery series with female sleuths.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780708938379
  • Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Series: Callahan Garrity Series, #2
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 5.69 (w) x 8.85 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Kay Andrews

Kathy Hogan Trocheck is the author of ten critically acclaimed mysteries, including the Callahan Garrity mystery series. A former reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, she is also the author of Little Bitty Lies and the Edgar®- and Macavity-nominated Savannah Blues, under the name Mary Kay Andrews.

Biography

In In 2003, a writer named Mary Kay Andrews burst on the book scene with an entertaining, lighthearted confection entitled Savannah Blues. Hailed as a promising debut, the book received positive reviews; but not everyone realized it was actually the work of journalist-turned-novelist Kathy Hogan Trocheck, author of a bestselling mystery series begun in 1990 and featuring ex-cop-turned P.I. Callahan Garrity.

Trocheck explained in an interview with Reading Group Guides.com the reason for adopting a pseudonym (derived, by the way, from combining the names of her two children): "Because Blues is so different from my Callahan books, I wanted a chance to try for a whole new group of readers, people who like women's fiction, Southern fiction, and still, mysteries. That Mary Kay is a pseudonym for Kathy Hogan Trocheck is not a secret from my fans."

Savannah Blues introduced readers to Eloise "Weezie" Foley, whose marriage to the wealthy Talmadge Evans III suffers a fatal blow when he announces he is in love with someone else. When Talmadge's mistress moves into his Savannah mansion, it's the backyard carriage house for Weezie, who soon begins to devise a plan to get revenge on her cheating hubby. Blues may have been a marked departure from Trocheck's grittier early work, but it was a rousing success on all fronts. Publishers Weekly hailed it as "delightfully breezy, richly atmospheric" and Kirkus reviews called it "pure fun."

Soon, Mary Kay Andrews had assumed a life of her own. A year later, she published Little Bitty Lies, followed in 2005 by the joyfully wacky New York Times bestseller Hissy Fit. Having revisited the world of her irresistible protagonist Weezie Foley twice more in Savannah Breeze and Blue Christmas, Andrews continues to craft her winning brand of witty, Southern-fried fiction -- much to the delight of her many fans.

Good To Know

When Andrews was a journalist at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she covered the famous "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" murder case.

As Kathy Hogan Trocheck, Andrews's mysteries have been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity Awards.

When she isn't writing, Mary Kay Andrews lectures and teaches at writing workshops.

A few fun outtakes from our interview with Andrews:

"When I finish writing a book, I always celebrate with my favorite junk foods: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Wink grapefruit soda."

"I have no sense of direction and am incapable of reading a map."

"I'm a charter member of the Salty Dog chapter of the Andy Griffith Show Re-run Watchers club."

"I love afternoon naps, junking, reading, cooking with my husband, anything with avocados, English Setters, old movies, anything blue and white. I hate shopping for clothes, cigarette smoke, math, magic, mimes, scary movies, and Star Trek re-runs."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Kathy Hogan Trocheck (real name)
    2. Hometown:
      Atlanta, Georgia
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 27, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Tampa, Florida
    1. Education:
      B.A. in newspaper journalism, University of Georgia, 1976
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



The lump under the sheet stirred, ever so slightly. I poked it with my toe. No response. I poked again. Put my lips up to his ear.

"Give you a hundred dollars if you'll get up and put the coffee on."

The only response was an exaggerated snore.

"A hundred dollars and I'll scratch your back for five minutes."

He pulled the sheet up over his head and turned his back to me.

I sighed. "Okay. A hundred dollars, back scratching, plus... "

Before I could finish the offer he turned and put arms around my neck, lazily running a finger down his bare spine.

I slapped his hand away.

"Forget it, MacAufiffe," I said. "A hundred dollars, back scratching and first dibs on the shower. That's my final offer."

He groaned loudly but sat up, pulling half the covers with him. It was June, but we'd cranked up my air-conditioner the previous night and the room was chilly. I snatched the covers back.

"Deal," he said, then padded, naked, toward the bathroom.

I dozed a few minutes, until the doorbell rang. "Get the door, Mac," I called, but the shower was still running full blast.

"Damn," I muttered, feeling around on the floor far my robe. "Who the hell's here this early in the morning?"

By the time I'd groggily made my way through the hallway to the front door, the bell ringing had been replaced with a persistent knocking. I put one bleary eye to the front door peephole, took a look and tried to shake the cobwebs away.

I looked again, but she was still there. I shot the deadbolt and opened the door a crack, leaving the chain on.

A Southern belle from hell stood on my doorstep.She'd poured her two-hundred-pound-plus self into a long hoop-skirted ball gown made of some kind of white-and-green flowered imitation satin. The sleeves had been pulled down over her shoulders, forcing the double-D bosom forward at a gravity-defying angle. A green velvet sash was wound tight around her waistso tight that her chubby cheeks were stained an unnatural pink. Her head was wrapped turban style in a faded yellow towel. She fluttered a pair of half-inch-long fake eyelashes and smiled coquettishly at me.

"Hey, Callahan," she said sweetly, trying to push the door open. "Tell your mama I'm here for my combout."

I held the door steady. "Edna's still in Swainsboro, at my cousin's wedding, Neva Jean," I said. "What the hell are you doing in that getup at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning?"

She fluttered the eyelashes again. "Come on and let me in, Callahan," she said plaintively. "It's eighty-five degrees out here already. I don' wanna sweat on my ball gown. Edna promised she'd be back in time to comb me out before I head up to Kennesaw for the big battle. She'll probably be here any minute now."

"I've got company, Neva Jean," I said, tightening my grip on the door. "I'll have Edna call you when she gets in. See you later."

Before I could slam the door an arm snaked around in front of me unlatching the chain. "What big battle?" Mac asked. I hadn't heard him come up behind me. He opened the door wide, forcing me to step back into the hallway. "Come on in, Neva Jean," he said expansively. "Coffee's on."

She bunched her skirts up tight to her body and squeezed past, treating Mac to another spasm of eyelash fluttering.

I gave Mac a sour look, but he smiled back innocently. "You never heard of Southern hospitality?" he whispered. He doffed an imaginary hat at the swaying backside of Neva Jean McComb, assistant head House Mouse, dressed up as a trailer-park version of Scarlett O'Hara.

Neva Jean doesn't always show up in costume at the front door to the bungalow Edna and I share in Candler Park. Usually, she and the other girls come in the back door. Generally, they wear white slacks and one of our Pink or white House Mouse smocks. We run a cleaning business, you see, the best damn cleaning business in Atlanta, I think. We're pricey, but when a Mouse has been in your house, you know it's clean.

In the last year or so, we've acquired a sideline, one I hadn't planned on after I quit the Atlanta Police Department and bought the cleaning business. The new business cards don't mention it, but J. Callahan Garrity, the co-owner and president of House Mouse, has also reluctantly — gotten back into the private investigation racket.

Slowly, I trailed Mac and Neva Jean back into the kitchen. As usual, she had her head poked inside the refrigerator. Her voice was muffled, but audible. "Didn't I see a plate of sausage biscuits in here yesterday?"

"Gone," I said. "Mac had a midnight snack off 'em."

Neva Jean stood up straight and waggled a finger at me. "Callahan Garrity, your mama would have a conniption if she knew you were entertaining overnight company while she was out of town."

Mac had the grace to blush, but I waggled my finger right back at her. "Guess again, Neva Jean," I said. "Mac spends just about every Friday night here. It's too far for him to drive back out to Alpharetta."

Neva Jean gasped in horror, but Mac shook his head in agreement. "It's true," he said, handing her a mug of steaming coffee. "These Garrity women are very open-minded."

While Neva Jean drowned her outrage in her coffee I sat down at the oak kitchen table and ran my fingers through my hair, trying to pretty up a bit for my gentleman friend, Andrew MacAuliffe.

"Neva Jean," I said reluctantly, "run that battlefield thing past me again, would you? Just exactly what are you doing on a battlefield and why are you dressed in that tacky getup?"

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2008

    outstanding

    Not since the books 'Little Bitty Lies' and 'Barring Some Unforeseen Accident' have I so been taken with a book. That this is a southern book should be enough to pull you in, but pair that with the fact that it's a darn goodly written mystery and you have nothing but a good time waiting for you. It's a murder mystery and a good one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2013

    Reccomend

    I'm reading book 5 of this Callahan Garrity series, have enjoyed them all. I could do without some of the language but otherwise I would recommend the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2012

    Rg ghhhgxg

    Sadddgtdgfdddffvghx

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