January 31, 2014

Review: Them Bones

Them Bones
Sarah Booth Delaney, Book 1
Carolyn Haines

Published: Nov 1999

Bantam, mass market paperback, 318p.
ISBN: 978-0-553-58171-3

Meet Sarah Booth Delaney...
an unconventional southern belle whose knack for uncovering the truth is about to make er the hottest detective in Zinnia, Mississippi... if it doesn't make her the deadest.

No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth's situation.  Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she's flat broke and about to lose the family plantation.  Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother's nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state - or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend's prize pooch to raise some cash.

But soon Sarah Booth's walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she's hired to solve a murder.  Did gorgeous, landed Hamilton Garrett V really kill his mother twenty years ago?  And if so, what is Sarah Booth doing falling for this possible murderer?  When she asks one too many questions and a new corpse turns up, she is suddenly a suspect herself... and Sarah Booth finds that digging up the bones of the past could leave her rolling over in her grave.

This book was such a disappointment for me.  I wanted to like it - it sounded like such a great book - but the reality was that not only did Sarah come off as a scheming woman who could turn on the charm when she wanted something, but she had the audacity to blackmail and betray a friend for money.  I realise that she's trying to save her family's plantation, but that still didn't make her actions any more excusable. After a few pages I found that I just didn't care at all for Sarah.

Her interactions with men, especially Hamilton Garrett V, as well as the slightly sleazy banker, Harold, consist of trying to figure out whether she should lead them on and marry them for their money (to save the plantation) or to just have a good time and cut them loose.  Confusing... YES!  For a supposedly ladylike Southern Belle, Sarah sure gets around.   Even with the guy she suspects could be the killer she's still incapable of keeping her panties on.  Oy, total drama island.

Then there's Jitty.  A bossy, nosy scheming ghost who haunts the women of the Delaney family.  She comes across as aggravating, and there were times I wish Sarah could just Ghostbust her.  I didn't care that she was Sarah's great-great-grandmother's nanny, she was just plain annoying with all her 'advice'.

After sounding like such a good book (from the synopsis) there was just nothing - character wise - that pulled me in and engaged me.   This is the first book in a long time that I wish I hadn't bought.

However to be fair, there was only one saving grace in my eyes, and that was the twist at the end.  I didn't really suspect the identity of the killer - perhaps that was because my heart truly wasn't in it - but the revelations at the end of the book were the most interesting aspect of this whole book for me.  And it is only because of the great twist that I'm not giving 'Them Bones' a 1 star review.

In the future I may change my mind - that's a woman's prerogative after all - and read another title in this series from my library, but I don't see myself buying any further Sarah Booth Delaney books.  Now, there will be many people who don't agree with my views on this book, and that's fine as we're each entitled to an opinion, but I won't be recommending this book to anyone unless I see, and read, for myself that the series improves enough to warrant having someone read 'Them Bones'.  Perhaps it's because I've read so many fabulous cosy's lately, that Sarah Booth Delaney just comes off as a poor substitute.  Who knows?

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