Miss Dimple Suspects by Mignon F. Ballard is the third book in the traditional mystery series set in Georgia during World War II (available January 22, 2013).
Author Mignon F. Ballard has written nearly twenty books, including a number of stand-alones, seven books in the highly entertaining Augusta Goodnight series and, to my great joy, a third book in the Miss Dimple Kilpatrick series set in the small town of Elderberry, Georgia, during World War II.
Just last year I talked about how much I loved the second book, Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause. Well here’s the good news: book number three, Miss Dimple Suspects, is another delightful and engaging story.
Miss Dimple is part of a search party looking for a little girl named Peggy Ashcroft. The situation reminds Miss Dimple of another little girl who went missing many years before, one she hasn’t thought of in a long time. Dimple is separated from the other searchers and it is dark when she finds the sick and feverish child and is not sure how the two of them can get down the hillside and safely back to town.
Dimple clenched her teeth to keep them from chattering as the dog raced back and forth between her and a spot a few feet away. Was he trying to lead her somewhere? Miss Dimple shifted her small burden; the little girl’s cheek felt scorching next to her own and she could hear a distinctive rattle in her chest. She thought again of the long-ago neighbor who had helped to save her little brother. Minerva, where are you when I need you?
Again, the German shepherd demanded her attention, urging her farther up the hill. Miss Dimple sighed. “Maybe you know something I don’t know,” she said, stumbling along behind him. Using her flashlight, she walked cautiously, the pale beam probing the way a few feet at a time. She didn’t know anything about this dog except that it was protective of Peggy, but from her own early experiences with Bear, Dimple was aware that sometimes animals had keener instincts than humans, and several minutes later she realized she had made the right decision. At the top of the next hill, a welcoming yellow light beckoned to them from the window of a cottage only a few yards away.
And it is here the real mystery begins. The cottage belongs to a renowned artist, Mae Martha Hawthorne, who resides with her nurse/companion, a lovely young Asian woman named Suzy. They shelter Miss Dimple and little Peggy Ashcroft for the night and Suzy’s medical skill brings the sick child’s raging fever under control. The next morning Suzy walks through the woods to a neighboring house and, at Miss Dimple’s direction, calls the telephone operator, Florence, to let everyone know that Miss Dimple has found the child and they are both well.
After this rescue Dimple and her friends Charlie and Annie make a thank-you visit to the artist and her companion, and try to befriend them. Suzy is extremely reticent and doesn’t want to join the ladies for any activities in town. Dimple assumes that over time Suzy will overcome her shyness and telephone to set up a get-together.
But when Suzy called a few days later, it wasn’t at all what she expected. “Miss Dimple, can you come? Something terrible has happened, and I don’t know what to do! Hurry, please! I need your help, and don’t—”
And then the line went dead.
What I love about this novel is that mysteries are woven together and finally unraveled and all the while the people of Elderberry get on with their daily lives, consistently adjusting to the challenges of wartime America. The books in this series keep me absorbed in the customs and civility of Miss Dimple and her friends as they determine to resolve the troubles in their small town, even as the war continues to loom large, the gravest danger well beyond their control.
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Terrie Farley Moran’s recent collection of short stories, THE AWARENESS and other deadly tales, is currently available in e-format for the Nook and for the Kindle. Terrie blogs at Women of Mystery. www.womenofmystery.net. She is currently writing a cozy mystery set in a beach community in southwest Florida.