The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O’Clock Lady
Prolific mystery author Susan Wittig Albert has penned another in the popular Darling Dahlias series. This sixth book opens with the discovery of Rona Jean, a local telephone operator whose shift (and life) ended the previous night at eleven o’clock! As newly appointed Sherriff Buddy Norris investigates his first murder case, he quickly discovers that the strangled girl is several months pregnant. By concentrating on initials written in the dead girl’s diary, he routs out various potential fathers of the unborn child, whilst breathing a quiet sigh of relief that he had not succumbed to Rona Jean’s charms when he dated her. Within the vicinity of Darling, the victim has been cleverly inventive about getting funds to cover her future expenses, but investigations take Buddy further afield to the C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp, where Rona Jean has also been attempting to blackmail people involved in a scheme to divert government funds.
The author’s whimsical turn of phrase and wry humour make this cosy Depression-era whodunit a joy to read. If you are a fan of this genre and haven’t yet discovered Susan Wittig Albert, I heartily recommend you seek her out.