Review: When Will the Dead Lady Sing? by Patricia Sprinkle

When Will the Dead Lady Sing cover artWhen Will the Dead Lady Sing? by Patricia Sprinkle (Signet, 2004)

MacLaren and Joe Riddley Yarbrough live in the small town of Hopemore, Georgia. She’s a county magistrate, and he had the job before her. They have married children and school-age grandchildren, so these aren’t your traditional 20-somethings.

They were childhood sweethearts, and the long relationship has developed some delightful banter between them. There’s also a secret between them, one MacLaren hoped would never surface: in university, she briefly dated someone else behind Joe Riddley’s back.

That man is now somewhat of a hero to Joe Riddley. What’s she to do when he turns up in town, complete with a political entourage and a live buffalo?

And when she finds a dead body who’s linked to the man, things get even worse. Mac has promised her husband she’ll stay out of investigating, but the local sheriff is short on sense. I assume that’s how she’s gotten involved in previous mysteries, too.

When Will the Dead Lady Sing? is book 7 in the Thoroughly Southern Mystery series, and the first one I’ve read. I plan to go back and start at the beginning. The author thoughtfully provides an opening list of the characters to help keep them straight.

This is a mainstream mystery with some Christian characters. In the story, MacLaren and Joe Riddley attend church, send a homeless man to a church-funded soup kitchen (and then regret that they didn’t help him more), and pray for their grandson when he gets in trouble. Nothing preachy or flashy, and everything serves a purpose in the plot.

The characters, Christian and non, are real, feeling people. Some are a bit eccentric, as you’d expect in a humour-tinged southern mystery. They fit with Patricia Sprinkle’s delightful voice (as spoken through first person narrator, Mac).

Patricia Sprinkle has published many mysteries, including the Thoroughly Southern Mysteries and the Family Tree Series, but somehow I hadn’t read any of her novels. When another mystery author, Jayne E. Self, interviewed her I enjoyed the interview and liked the humour in some of her titles. Her name sounded familiar, and a search turned up When Will the Dead Lady Sing, deep in my to-read stash. [Read the interview: Part 1 and Part 2]

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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