THE DARLING DAHLIAS AND THE CONFEDERATE ROSE, by Susan Wittig Albert, Berkley Prime Crime, 2012, 9780425247761
As we all deal with the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve decided to post reviews of books that are pleasantly entertaining–nothing heavy, nothing horrible . This mystery is number three of eight. I reviewed it in November, 2012.
This third mystery in an ongoing series is a sweet, nostalgic, regional puzzle set in Depression-era Darling, Alabama. The Darling Dahlias are a fourteen-member garden club. For some first-time readers, keeping them and their story lines straight may be a little overwhelming. This well-written novel by a multi-published author blends a fond look back at the 1930s with a hard dose of the period’s difficult realities. Garden portrayals are lyrical, and the elaborate descriptions of everything from medications to cars–including what everything costs–put the reader solidly into the setting. The intertwining mystery lines involve a Confederate spy, a missing $15,000, and the inexplicable behavior of an agitated garden club member.
Loose ends are tied up satisfactorily by the end of the story. Enough is left hanging to make the reader want to return to Darling and see what happens in the next installment. The characters become real people whom many readers will wish to see again. The author includes a historical note, a resource list, and even tempting Southern recipes. Fans of the Deep South, gardening, the Confederate cause, and cozy mysteries will enjoy this multilayered novel. Yankees should visit Darling, too.