The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star

Written by Susan Wittig Albert
Review by Kathryn Johnson

This popular cozy mystery series, set in Darling, Alabama, in the 1930s, focuses on a feisty women’s club (The Darling Dahlias) and their run-ins with all manner of dark secrets and mayhem. In this particular adventure, the ladies prepare for the town’s annual Watermelon Festival. Entertainment at the festival will feature the famous lady aviatrix, Ms. Lily Dare, and her Flying Circus. The rub is that someone is threatening Ms. Dare, and it appears her plane may have been sabotaged. Making matters even more unpleasant for everyone, a terrible rumor circulates, suggesting that the husband of one of the town’s local ladies may have a romantic link with Lily. How shocking!

Delightful characters, charmingly named, abound. (Charlie Dickens is the local newspaper editor.) This is essentially a story meant to entertain. However, Albert appears to have gone to considerable effort to include accurate historical details and generous political background appropriate to the times. We also learn a lot about how ordinary country people dealt with the Great Depression on a day-to-day basis. As a bonus, the book includes Depression-era recipes – Southern-style cooking, of course. The overall result is a glimpse into a way of life now lost to us.