Doing It at the Dixie Dew
Ruth Moose
(Minotaur/Thomas Dunne)
Ms. Moose writes poetry when she isn't doing murder mysteries, and she apparently has a perverse interest in names. Lavinia Lovingood comes to Beth McKenzie's B&B there in Littleboro N.C. while Elmer Ottinger from Hackensack also stays there, with his wife. Ida Plum Duckett helps run the place, the Dixie Dew. Wanema Kratt wrote a recipe for dressing for Beth's grandmother, as did Mildrid Mottsinger. Shirley Putterman stays at the B&B with her husband, and then there is always the author, Ruth Moose (Can we guess: her middle name is "Booth," no?)

Doing It has a few other oddities, like "two little old ladies," the salt of Littleboro who manage to perpetuate several murders, mostly, apparently, to get back at those who may have snooted them long years ago. Lavinia Lovingood, just returned after decades, gets bumped off. Her family were the town grandees. She lets it be known that she came back to Littleboro to die, but someone decides to hasten her exit.

Soon after, our local young handsome priest gets strangled while on his knees presumably at prayer, and we find out much later that it was at the behest of the cranky organist, an ancient rune named Miss Tempie --- with the assist of another ancien, a daytime sherry nipper by the name of Verna, along with the heavy, Rolfe the gardener.

And why? Miss Tempie wants more money for the church, and wants to protect the past, to be a bulwark against the 7-11s and KFC and the condos and the future.

If we didn't know any better, we might accuse Ms. Moose of ageism: these oldies may be tottering off into senility but as southern ladies you learn they are certainly not ones you'd want to cross.

About the only laugh in the book comes when Beth, our lady of the B&B wants something to divert her:

    I was too tired and distracted to read magazines; none of the new novels grabbed my attention and I didn't think I wanted to involve myself in a murder mystery . . .

This wonderful old southern town with its wonderful old southern characters and it's wonderful ancient ways (no latch on the back door) comes with the usual message: our sweet and innocent ways are fast disappearing; love them while you can, but stay away from the old folk; you'd think they'd be polite and attentive but if you represent "progress," they'll just as soon strangle your ass before you can even begin to croak out "Dixie Dew."

--- Homer Cliff Chambliss
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