Doing It at the Dixie Dew by Ruth Moose is a cozy murder mystery that follows Beth, a woman whose new North Carolina bed-and-breakfast opens with a murder (available May 6, 2014).
The humorous cozy mystery Doing It at the Dixie Dew written by Ruth Moose won the 2013 Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Competition for Best First Traditional Mystery Novel. The protagonist, Beth McKenzie Henry, is southern born and bred although she has been living for a number of years in “that godforsaken Yankee land” as her grandmother often referred to Rhode Island. After her grandmother’s death, Beth inherits the house she was raised in, and decides to turn it into a cozy bed-and-breakfast. Beth has no money to speak of and the house is in desperate need of repair. Still as an innkeeper Beth is off to an auspicious start. On the first day as an official B and B, the Dixie Dew is packed with guests, two couples and two singles. But then, well, here’s Beth opening the story for us:
People don’t go to a bed-and-breakfast to die, do they? I’d never heard of it before, but let me tell you about Miss Lavinia Lovingood. She came to my bed-and-breakfast, the Dixie Dew, in Littleboro, North Carolina, checked in and “checked out.” She died. Went to bed in my Azalea Room, fresh with deep pink paint and wallpaper still damp from the hanging, and never got up.
As it turns out, Miss Lovingood was also born and bred in Littleboro, North Carolina, so everyone’s first thought is that at her advanced aged, she probably just came home to die and, unfortunately, it happened sooner rather than later. After the initial shock, Beth decides to clear her head by taking a walk all around town. She remembers places from her childhood and she also notices that the town eccentric, Reba Satterfield, known as Crazy Reba, is back living in a tree just down the road from the Dixie Dew. When Beth gets home her assistant, Ida Plum, has big news.
Ida Plum met me in the kitchen. She waved the wand to the vacuum cleaner like a dark warning ﬂag. “Don’t go up-stairs,” she said. “They’ve dusted for prints. Miss Lavinia was murdered.”
With renovations still in full swing, Beth thought fixing up the Dixie Dew would be her most pressing problem. It never occurred to her that it would be superseded by having to deal with the consequences of a murder, especially one that happened on the very first night the Dixie Dew is open. It could put her out of business and fast. Shortly after Miss Lavinia’s death there is a second killing. This murder doesn’t happen in the Dixie Dew but Beth discovers the body. The victim just happens to be a priest that Miss Lavinia visited the minute she came to town, although he was not her clergyman. Chief of Police Ossie DelGardo thinks that Beth must have something to do with the murders because, well, I’ll let you hear him say it.
“You’re the only thing these two have in common,” Ossie said. “You were on the scene. You don’t look like the type, but who does? Anybody who would poison little old ladies and strangle a priest while he was praying is not your average, run-of-the-mill, day-to-day murderess.”
While Chief Ossie is quick to point a finger, he doesn’t seem to be the type of lawman who puts any real effort into solving crime. That quickly becomes Beth’s job and in a town full of characters that range from quirky to downright weird (I did mention that Reba lives in a tree, right?) there seem to be a wide pool of suspects.
Doing It at the Dixie Dew is very well written and highly entertaining. Now and again I laughed out loud while following the antics of the residents of Littleboro. I guarantee you’ll have fun with this book and when you read it keep an eye on the rabbit.
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Twice short-listed for Best American Mystery Stories, Terrie Farley Moran’s cozy mystery novel, Well Read, Then Dead will be released by Berkley Prime Crime in August, 2014. She blogs amid the grand banter of the Women of Mystery.