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Mississippi Books and Writers

July 1996

Note: Prices listed below reflect the publisher's suggested list price. They are subject to change without notice.

The Best Money Murder Can Buy: A Stokes Moran Mystery

A Novel by Neil McGaughey

Scribner ($21.00, ISBN: 0684197618)

Publication date: July 1996

Description:

A shocking discovery of a personal nature propels mystery critic/sleuth Stokes Moran in this third book in the series. When a man who is his mirror image appears at his home, Kyle Malachi (a.k.a. Stokes Moran) is suspicious and resentful. Later his “twin” turns up murdered, and Kyle decides to masquerade as the dead man in hopes of trapping the killer.

Touched Touched

A novel by Carolyn Haines

E. P. Dutton (Hardcover, ISBN: 0525941606)

Publication date: July 1996

Description from Kirkus Reviews:

Haines (Summer of the Redeemers, 1994) ladles on the pluck and grit as she limns the life of Mattie, a strong woman who comes to live in a preternaturally mean Mississippi town, where she faces down the local bigots, survives a severe spousal beating, and exacts a deadly revenge. Jexville in 1926, as 16-year-old mail-order bride Mattie soon learns, is a town where intolerance is as unavoidable as the humidity. The people are devout, suspicious, narrow-minded.

They’re also hypocrites: The men drink bootleg liquor; the women are malicious; and both sexes support a husband's right to beat his wife. To be in any way different is to invite trouble, which is exactly what Mattie’s new friend JoHanna McVay, married to handsome Will, a purveyor of moonshine to political bigwigs, often does.

Mattie, newly married to Elikah, the town’s barber, meets JoHanna and her nine-year-old daughter, Duncan, at a children’s party. Duncan, struck by lightning, soon acquires the ability to foretell the future. Then Mattie is violently beaten and sexually humiliated by Elikah. Pregnant, she decides not to have his child. JoHanna, accordingly, arranges for an illegal abortion and tries to convince Mattie to leave Elikah, but JoHanna soon has troubles of her own: Duncan’s accurate predictions of death and destruction convince the locals that she’s a child of Satan.

The McVays decide to go into hiding; Floyd, a friend of Mattie and Duncan’s, is brutally murdered; and Mattie kills a local bootlegger as she tries to escape murderous Elikah. In the long calm post-mayhem, Mattie remains married, but Elikah, no longer a wife-beater, plans a deadly revenge. As WW II begins, another frightening prediction from the now-adult Duncan finally impels Mattie to wreak her own vengeance. Action overload as Mattie and friends more than prove their credentials as cool, modern, and independent women able to cope with everything. —Copyright 1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Shakespeare's Landlord Shakespeare’s Landlord

By Charlaine Harris

St. Martins (Hardcover, ISBN: 0312144156)

Publication date: July 1996

Description from Booklist:

Harris, author of the Aurora Teagarden series, now introduces Lily Bard, resident of Shakespeare, Arkansas, a woman fiercely protective of her privacy, determined to succeed as a one-woman cleaning agency, and just as fiercely determined to excel in karate.

When the unpopular and very nosy owner of the apartment building next door is murdered and the body dumped in the local park, Lily reports the body to the police—anonymously. The local police chief, however, is nobody’s fool and quickly discovers Lily’s involvement and her own past, which makes her a possible suspect. Given the situation and, since she cleans for many of the other possible suspects, some opportunities, Lily decides that the only way to clear her name is to find the real killer.

Harris has created an intriguing new character in this solidly plotted story. Expect more from crime fiction’s first cleaning-lady series. —Stuart Miller



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