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Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review - The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star by Susan Wittig Albert

About The Book:

National bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert returns to the small town of Darling, Alabama, in the 1930s—where the Darling Dahlias, the colorful ladies of a garden club, are anything but shrinking violets when it comes to rooting out criminals….

The Texas Star herself—Miss Lily Dare, the “fastest woman in the world”—is bringing her Dare Devils Flying Circus to Darling. Unfortunately, she’s also bringing a whole lot of trouble. As the Dahlias prepare for the annual Watermelon Festival—where they will present the famous female aviatrix with her own Texas Star hibiscus—rumors are flying.
Dahlias president Liz Lacy learns from newspaperman Charlie Dickens that Miss Dare has been threatened and her plane sabotaged. Apparently the bold and beautiful barnstormer has made plenty of enemies. And is it possible she may even be involved with the husband of one of Darling’s local ladies?
And speaking of wings, the new cook at Myra May’s Darling Diner can fry a chicken and whip up a sweet potato meringue pie like nobody’s business. But why is she keeping her past such a mystery?
As the Texas Star barnstorms into town, Liz and Verna Tidwell offer to help bring down a saboteur who may be propelled by revenge. Before it’s all over, there will be plenty of black eyes and dark secrets revealed…
Includes Southern-Style Depression-Era Recipes!

My Thoughts:

I have been a big fan of Susan Wittig Albert's writing for a long time, beginning with her China Bayles/herbal mysteries.  But, in my personal opinion, I think her 1930s-themed "Darling Dahlias" is Albert at her absolute best! Set in Alabama, this series captures the essence of the Depression-era and small-town living perfectly, and her cast of characters, the ladies of the town's garden club, are just a delight to get to know.

"The Darling Dahlias and The Texas Star" is the fourth book in this series and is a lively addition with a new mystery or two for the inquisitive ladies to solve as they prepare for their town's annual Watermelon Festival. Albert includes bits of actual history in her stories, and I was fascinated with the intriguing barn-storming lady pilot Lily Dare.

First time readers will be able to jump into the action of this story with ease, and as a bonus, Albert includes era-themed southern recipes as well as beauty tips and recipes for beauty treatments from back then as well.  I highly recommend this title, but treat yourself to a reading of the previous three books as well - "The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree," "The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies," and "The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose - they are all excellent tales and make for a great session of cozy sleuthing.

About The Author:

Susan Wittig Albert grew up on a farm in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. A former professor of English and a university administrator and vice president, she is the author of the China Bayles Mysteries, the Darling Dahlias Mysteries, and the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. Some of her recent titles include Widow’s Tears, Cat’s Claw, The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose, and The Tale of Castle Cottage. She and her husband, Bill, coauthor a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries under the name Robin Paige, which includes such titles as Death at Glamis Castle and Death at Whitechapel.

Check out her website at http://susanalbert.com/

A "Texas Star" hibiscus

My thanks to Berkley/Penguin Books for the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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