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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...

When Riley MacPherson takes on the task of executor of her father's estate, she finds evidence that causes her to doubt virtually everything she'd believed about her family. What ensues is a fast paced, engrossing story of her determination to learn the truth - no matter what that might be. There are so many twists and turns in this plot, I was up half the night to find out how it would end. I never saw it coming!

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain ($27.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Samantha, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Jimm Juree, first-person narrator of this excellent mystery, is a crime reporter out of work. Her mother, with early dementia, sold the family home and business and relocated to southern, rural Thailand. Jimm's grandfather, a retired cop, rarely talks and her younger brother who wants to be a world-class body builder moved with the family; her older brother, a transgendered former beauty queen now computer hacker stayed in the city.

Suddenly, things begin to happen in their new village: A Volkswagon van, complete with two skeletons, is discovered by a well-digger then a visiting Buddist abbott is violently murdered shortly after Jimm meets a nun and a monk who become suspects in the case. As Jimm works the case hoping to break back into news, she finds allies in unexpected places.

The charm of Whim isn't the crime story. It's the characters, the whimsey, and the humor woven subtly through the novel that make it a cut above the rest. Of course, the chapter headings, quotes from President Malaprop, are well worth the read. Don't miss the beginning of this excellent new series!

NOTE: Many readers will remember Cotterill's wonderful series about Dr. Siri, a 70-something Laotian county coroner.
I predict even more fans for Jimm!

Killed at the Whim of a Hat: A Jimm Juree Mystery by Colin Cotterill ($18.99, Minotaur), recommended by Molly, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

This is the first in a series featuring a policeman who is sent to his childhood home of Lewis Island in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, -a formidable and forbidding world where tradition rules and people adhere to ancient ways of life- to investigate a grisly murder involving islanders he's known all his life.

It's riveting and beautifully written.

The Blackhouse By Peter May ($14.99, Quercus Books) Recommended by Nancy, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Seeing an African American man in Carol Wall's neighborhood is uncommon, and when she stops to watch what he is doing,
she finds herself talking to a master of horticulture and philosophy.

The book is gracefully written and more the memoir of a unique and treasured friendship than a gardening book. Wall and Giles Owita find they can trust each other with secrets no one else could understand.

Walls explores the transformation Owita makes in her life as well as her yard and how she, in turn, becomes the student who teaches the master.

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall ($25.95, G.P. Putnam's Sons a Member of Penguin Group), recommended by Marilyn, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

I came across this brilliant little gem of a novella in a used bookstore while traveling, and it immediately became one of my favorite Southern folk tales.

Though perhaps diamond in the rough would be a more fitting epithet, as its climactic battle is fought not by the noble knights or graceful gods of traditional epics, but rather by the comically gothic – almost grotesque – celebrities of an isolated Southern town. McCullers writes with such a vivid intensity of detail that the history of this short-lived cafe (like many of her short stories, especially Wunderkind) dwells in my memory more like a film than a story in a book.

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe: Carson McCullers' Novella Adapted for the Stage by Edward Albee, Carson McCullers ($12.95, Scribner), recommended by Vicki, Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

Two best friends raise their children to be perfect mates. Until the kids are three, they are constant companions. Then they are separated. The plan is that they will meet someday, and since they have so much in common, they will fall in love and be happy. This is wild, edgy, creative fiction!

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer ($25.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Beach trip checklist:
- sunscreen
- sunglasses
- lounge chair
- great summer

A talented young florist tries to make a go of her business in Savannah and finds more than her share of challenges along the way. This latest from Mary Kay has everything you could want: Romance; break ups; drama; intrigue. Oh, did I mention Goldendoodles? A total escape! I had so much fun reading this book!

Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews ($26.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Samantha, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.