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  • Buried Bones
  • Written by Carolyn Haines
  • Format: Paperback | ISBN: 9780553581720
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  • Buried Bones
  • Written by Carolyn Haines
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307482594
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Buried Bones

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Written by Carolyn HainesAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Carolyn Haines

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On Sale: December 24, 2008
Pages: 368 | ISBN: 978-0-307-48259-4
Published by : Bantam Bantam Dell
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Private investigation isn't on the list of a southern belle's most desirable accomplishments--but it's saved Sarah Booth Delaney's Delta homestead. Now all she has to cope with is its bossy antebellum ghost who is determined to save Sarah--from spinsterhood. Then comes the perfect social occasion: Lawrence Ambrose's dinner party...

Buried Bones

Ambrose, once a famous man of southern letters, is planning a comeback: a delicious tell-all with a bitchy ex-model as his "biographer." As he taunts his dinner guests with the news that his book will blow the lid off Zinnia's darkest secrets, it becomes plain that each and every guest has a secret--and wants Ambrose to keep it. When the morning-after mess includes a bloody corpse and the manuscript of the biography disappears, Sarah Booth goes digging for answers. But many who hold them are six feet under--or soon will be--and if she doesn't tread carefully, she could join them any day now...

Excerpt

Chasing the blues away is a talent Delaney women are still trying to  acquire. Perhaps our melancholy is a sign, as Jitty insists, of  some obscure womb disorder. Regrettus Wombus, a medical term for  the regretful womb, resulting in the deep-dark, down-and-ugly blues.

Historically, Delaney women have been known to wallow in that  place where loss takes up more space than any other organ. I fear I'm  no exception to the family tradition.

There wasn't a radio station in the small Mississippi town of Zinnia that  wasn't playing "I'll Be Home for Christmas." It is my belief that any song  mentioning chestnuts, toasty fires, or sleigh rides for two should be banned

from the airwaves. It's a fact, documented in my psychology journals, that  suicide rates increase during the holidays. Due, no doubt, to the sadistic  disc jockeys playing these songs.

With the conclusion of my first case, I'd received payment in full from  Tinkie for my investigative services. Dahlia House had been saved, for the  moment, from my creditors. I should have been on top of the world. Instead, I  was in the front parlor, knotted in a tangle of tinsel, and with a Christmas

tree that looked as if residents of Bedlam had put up the lights.

Turning off the radio, I tossed the tinsel in the fire and was  rewarded with a multihued flame. I picked up all the magnolia leaves,  holly, and cedar that I'd cut and brought in to use as decorations.  With a mighty heave, I burned them, too.

As the last of the Delaneys, I'd inherited my mother's incredible  collection of great albums, and I sat down on the carpet and began to go  through them. I couldn't control the radio stations, but I could find my own

music.

As my fingers closed over Denise LaSalle, I felt a surge of renewed  spirit. The album was a little scratched, but there was no denying the feminist  power of the Delta-born blueswoman. It was perfect--fight the blues with the

blues. And Denise was putting it on her no-good man. She had her Crown Royal,  her car, and a juke-joint band to dance to. She'd also given me a new  motto--"If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."

There were plenty of fish in the ocean. All I had to do was  find me a pole and throw in my line.

With my energy renewed, I crawled behind Aunt LouLane's horsehair sofa,  found the electrical outlet, and jammed the prongs of the extension plug into  the holes. Maybe I wasn't the best with traditional Christmas decorating, but  I'd found something even better. Something that spoke to me. And I'd  gotten it at a bargain-basement price.

Peering over the back of the sofa at the mantel, I smiled with  satisfaction at what I had wrought. The neon tubing slid to hot green  with liquid light, creating the perfect outline of a Christmas  wreath. Mingled in the green curlicues that made the body of the  wreath were red ornaments that blinked on and off. It was a  masterpiece, a real find in Rudy's Junk Shop.

I picked up the second extension cord and poked it home. The reds,  greens, blues, and yellows of old-fashioned Christmas lights flickered to  life, creating a series of fascinating shadows on the high ceilings of  the front parlor. Neon meets tradition! A successful Delaney  moment.

Before I could stand up to see the fruits of my labors, I heard  the harrumph that warned me Jitty was in the room.

"You've got this place lookin' like a Chinese whorehouse,"  Jitty said. "And you not much better. I didn't know they made such a  thing as a flannel muumuu. Girl, it's late afternoon. You been  wearin' that getup all day? And look at those socks. Just 'cause they  red and it's Christmas don't mean you should wear 'em."

Bracing against the sofa, I rose to my knees and traced her voice to the  brocade wingback. She was sitting there, dark eyes reflecting the multihued  Christmas lights that she disdained. Behind her, the neon wreath pulsed and  throbbed, seeming to pick up the singer's declaration of freedom and at the  same time give Jitty a hellish halo.

"Merry Christmas, Jitty," I said, brushing the dust off my  knees as I stood. "I've been decorating."

"Honey, you need some serious help," she replied. "This  ain't decoratin', this is vandalism."

I walked across the wide, polished oak planks of the parlor and viewed my  handiwork from her vantage point. The thirteen-foot fir tree, trimmed with  about a million lights, at least five hundred ornaments, some red-velvet  bows, a few wooden toys and trinkets, and five packages of the real old-timey  silver icicles looked pretty good to me. Not to mention the stockings hung by  the fireplace with care, or the thorn branch that I'd laboriously studded with  rainbow gumdrops. I turned back to Jitty. "I think it looks great."

"Don't get that hurt look on your face, Sarah Booth," she  said coldly. "Some women got the touch when it comes to decoratin',  some don't. You could improve yourself a little bit, though, if you'd  take a few hints from--"

"Stop!" I would not allow the name of the decorating maven from hell to  be spoken in my home. My home. The phrase gave me a moment of pleasure. I,  Sarah Booth Delaney, had single-handedly redeemed Dahlia House. I still  had debts aplenty, but I no longer had to peek from behind closed curtains  whenever a car drove up to make sure it wasn't the sheriff and a repo crew.

"What you lookin' so self-satisfied for?" Jitty asked with tiny  little snake rattles in her voice.

I looked at her. Really looked at her, for the first time today. Gone  were the glitz and gaudiness of the seventies. Jitty had reinvented herself yet  again.

"Where in the hell did you get those clothes?" I asked, pointing at her  and moving my finger up and down to indicate the entire package. From the tight  curls bound back by a turban-style scarf to the waist-cinched blue  gingham dress and high-heeled pumps, Jitty looked like a negative image of  Jane Wyatt on a rerun of Father Knows Best. My horrified gaze roved  back up to her waist. My Lord, it had to be under twenty-three inches.

"Somebody around here's got to put a halt to moral decay. No more of  this "free love, if it feels good do it' bull. What we need are some family  values." Jitty looked like a rod had been rammed up her spine. "Once we get  us some family values, maybe a family will follow."

Her smug tone should have been a warning.
Carolyn Haines

About Carolyn Haines

Carolyn Haines - Buried Bones
Mississippi native Carolyn Haines, a former photojournalist, has written numerous books and was recently honored with an Alabama State Council on the Arts literary fellowship. She now lives in southern Alabama with her horses, dogs, and cats, including the real-life Sweetie Pie, where she is hard at work on the next Sarah Booth Delaney mystery, Hallowed Bones. Crossed Bones is her fourth mystery for Bantam Dell.
Praise

Praise

"A feistier southern belle you couldn't hope to find. Pull up a chair on the porch of Dahlia House and pour yourself a mint julep. You're going to want to set a spell."
-- Rick Riordan, Edgar Award-winning author of The Widower's Two-Step

"A writer of exceptional talent."
-- The Milwaukee Journal


Don't miss Sarah Booth Delaney's debut As The Mississippi Delta's First Southern Belle P.I.

Them Bones
A Mystery Guild
Alternate Selection

"Wonderful!"
-- Nancy Pickard, author of The Whole Truth

"A page-turning, laugh-out-loud read--I couldn't put it down."
-- Deborah Crombie, author of Kissed a Sad Goodbye

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