Here is the first line from Sapphire and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather, which I have just finished for book “C” of the Alphabet Soup Challenge:
“The Breakfast Table, 1856
Henry Colbert, the miller, always breakfasted with his wife–beyond that he appeared irregularly at the family table.”
Yes, this book is as quaint as the first line suggests, and although the Southern ideas about slaves and slave owners is so out-of-date and politically incorrect, I enjoyed this lesser known book by the author of My Antonia and Oh Pioneers!
In 2010, Miranda James (pseudonym) wrote a cozy mystery* which became the first in a series. Titled Murder Past Due, this novel featured Charlie Harris, librarian for a small college in Athena, Mississippi. It also features his cat, Diesel (so named because his purr sounds like a diesel engine) who is a Maine Coon that walks on a leash! He is so large, that people’s reaction to him is, “What is that? A cat?”
The character murdered is Godfrey Priest, best-selling author and “a most manipulative jerk.” According to his many acquaintances in Athena, he has always been one since his junior high days. As Charlie tries to solve the mystery on his own, although being warned to “stay out of things” by local police, he finds that “every last one of [his] friends and co-workers had a score to settle with the nasty novelist.” Prime suspects are Charlie’s college-student boarder, Justin Wardlaw and his mother, Julia. “…[A]s if the murder were not purr-plexing enough,” Godfrey has offered his works, letters, and personal papers to the library’s collection, and Charlie has access to evidence the police need very badly. Will Charlie obstruct justice by tampering with evidence in his search to find clues?
The book is described on the cover as full of “southern charm” and a “great beginning to a promising new series.” It was strictly an escape read, and therein lay its charm. It was an engaging read, fast paced, and kept me turning pages.
* A cozy mystery is one where the person killed is done so without graphic descriptions of the deed or the condition of the body when it is discovered, and the victim is someone the reader “loves to hate.” There is almost always a cat, books, and a library, bookstore, or cafe in the story. (my personal definition)