By: Carolyn Haines
Reviewed by: Jody Kamins Harper
St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2008
Any southern girl worth her salt knows a double first name is iconic in this region, so why not dual vocations as well? Sarah Booth Delaney, as narrator and protagonist, lives out concurrent roles as private investigator and actress in Wishbones, the latest in the series of light-hearted mysteries by Carolyn Haines. Leaving her happily haunted house in Zinnia, Mississippi, and unsure if she can withstand homesickness and lovesickness, the protagonist plunges into the sexy leading role in a remake of Body Heat.
Soon after Sarah Booth’s arrival in the land of movie stars, a jilted actress vying for her movie role is found murdered. Her adventure in stardom begins to get dangerous. Unlike the building tensions of the movie plot, she swiftly takes up a physical duet with her co-star, Graf Milieu. The anticipation, intrigue, and excitement are instead found within the Byzantine secrets of the mansion in Costa Rica during filming of the movie. A haunting apparition in a red dress, an anonymous attacker who targets cast members, and the director’s sordid family back-story add layers to the mystery.
Most entertaining are the surprise visits of Sara Booth’s own personal “haint,” Jitty, who follows her from the homeplace in Zinnia to materialize and tease her with rhetoric from other movie classics like Rebecca and The Innocents. Her ghostly encouragement might just help to solve the mystery. Jitty in her variously assumed movie costumes and jingling bracelets is one of the more fully realized characters, even if she isn’t flesh and blood. The loyal hound Sweetie Pie is a canine presence, and so is Chablis, the “dustmop” pup of Sarah Booth’s co-investigator Tinkie, who comes to Costa Rica to help solve the case. The sheer force of Tinkie’s stiletto heels adds humor to the ongoing search for a culprit.
As for Sarah Booth, the urge to solve the mystery might compel her more than her own talents as an actress—if she survives the violent attacks and ghostly visitations that lurk in each passageway. Oct 2008
Jody Kamins Harper is a freelance writer in Dothan. She currently teaches a weekly poetry class for fourth and fifth graders at the Cultural Arts Center there as part of its after-school arts program.