Pretty Is As Pretty Dies
Author: Elizabeth Spann Craig
Midnight Ink, 2009
The little town of Bradley, North Carolina is usually quite sleepy, so when super-beeyotch real estate agent Parke Stockard is murdered in the church sanctuary, everyone wakes up. Retired English teacher and octogenarian Myrtle Clover sees an opportunity: if she can solve Parke's murder, maybe people will stop treating her like she has nothing to contribute. Her son, Red (Red Clover - haha!) is the town's police chief, and he doesn't think it's a great idea for Myrtle to be, um, interfering in a police investigation. That only makes Myrtle more determined.
The murder victim may have been both wealthy and physically attractive, but she wasn't exactly Miss Congeniality. It seems as if everyone in town had a motive to take her out: from her druggie gambler of a son to the star reporter at the local newspaper . . . even Myrtle's own neighbors and fellow churchgoers could've done it. When Red concocts a "red herring" to lure Myrtle out of the way of his investigation, Myrtle learns of a connection between the dead woman and a local politician . . . and the plot thickens.
Along the way, Myrtle gets a sort-of sidekick: her new neighbor, the widower Miles Brandon. All the "mature" ladies have a sort of crush on Miles, so Myrtle doesn't mind their gossip. But one night when she's out walking by her pond, someone pushes her in! And then . . . another person turns up dead in Bradley. So is Miles a suspect, too? This whodunnit will keep you guessing.
Myrtle is a real hoot, and her character is well-developed. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the scenes involving minor characters, too, such as the French exchange student and a dude by the name of Crazy Dan. And I got hungry for Carolina food and sweet tea whenever any of the characters went to the local diner. But not when Myrtle tried to cook. :-)
Elizabeth Spann Craig is a North Carolina-based author that I follow on Twitter and on a couple of mystery-themed blogs. She just published a new book a few weeks ago under the name Riley Adams -- the first in a new food-based cozy mystery series based in Memphis, Tennessee called Delicious and Suspicious. I've already bought that one, and plan to read it soon!