Them Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #1)

Them Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #1)

by Carolyn Haines

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Meet Sarah Booth Delaney, an unconventional Southern belle whose knack for uncovering the truth is about to make her the hottest detective in Zinnia, Mississippi . . . if it doesn't make her the deadest.

No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth’s situation. Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she’s flat broke and about to lose the family plantation. Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother’s nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state—or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend’s prize pooch to raise some cash.

But soon Sarah Booth’s walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she’s hired to solve a murder. Did gorgeous, landed Hamilton Garrett V really kill his mother twenty years ago? And if so, what is Sarah Booth doing falling for this possible murderer? When she asks one too many questions and a new corpse turns up, she is suddenly a suspect herself . . . and Sarah Booth finds that digging up the bones of the past could leave her rolling over in her grave.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307491794
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/21/2009
Series: Sarah Booth Delaney Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 53,967
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mysteries, including Greedy Bones, Bone Appetit, and Bones of a Feather. She is the recipient of both the Harper Lee Distinguished Writing Award and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. Before writing fiction, she worked for several years as a journalist, and first visited the Delta, the setting for her mysteries, to do a newspaper story on Parchman State Prison. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives in Alabama on a farm with more dogs, cats, and horses than she can possibly keep track of.

Read an Excerpt

Women in my family have a penchant for madness and mysterious "womb" disorders. It's never been clear to me whether one is the result of the other, or if both maladies are a curse upon the Delaney women for acts of desperation, usually associated with a man more deeply involved with either a bottle or a gun than a female.

But it was melancholy, not madness, that was on my mind as I stared at the empty driveway through the rain-pelted kitchen windows of Dahlia House. A misty veil had settled over the old plantation, shrouding the bare trunks of the leafless sycamore trees. This will be my last Thanksgiving on the fine, old estate. The tradition of Dahlia House is drawing to a close--I am the last of the Delaneys, a thirty-three-year-old, unwed, unemployed failure.

"Sarah Booth Delaney, get your skinny white ass away from that window, moonin' around like your great-aunt Elizabeth--and you know what happened to her."

Perhaps it is madness, because since my return to Zinnia, Mississippi, the voice of my great-great-grandmother's nanny, Jitty, has become clear as a bell. I turned to confront her and blinked at the bell-bottoms and shiny polyester blouse that are part of her latest fashion trend--retro seventies. Though Jitty died in 1904 at a ripe old age, she has evoked some ghostly privilege and returned in her prime. In other words, hip-huggers look better on her than they would on me. It is only one of the things about her that annoy me.

"Leave me alone," I warned her as I went back to the stout oak table that had been in the Delaney family since Dahlia House was built in 1860. It, along with all of the other furnishings, will go on the auction block the week after Thanksgiving.

"You better quit this mopin' and find us a plan," Jitty said, taking a seat at the table, staring disapprovingly at the mess I had made. "In here in this cold kitchen making fruitcakes when the wolf is at the door. Where we supposed to go when they put us out of here? We're gone be living under the bridge, goin' through the trash of all your society friends for a bite to eat. You don't get busy, we're gone be in real trouble."

The cutting board glimmered with the jewels of chopped red and green cherries. I eyeballed the bottle of Jack Daniel's sitting on the table beside them. With sticky fingers I tipped the bottle into the fruitcake batter, and then lifted it to my lips.

"Don't tell me you taking after your great-uncle Lyle Crabtree." She glared at me through another fashion affectation, rose-tinted granny glasses. "Whiskey won't cure what ails you."

There was no point arguing with Jitty. I'd tried that, and I'd tried ignoring her. Nothing worked. I picked up the cutting board and dumped the bright cherries into the batter. "We always bake fruitcakes the week of Thanksgiving," I reminded her. "My life has been sacrificed on the altar of tradition, and I see no reason to quit now."

"In a week's time, we'll be homeless." Jitty pushed back her chair and stood, hands flat on the table for emphasis. "It's the responsibility of the Delaney family to provide for me. When you snatched my mama from the soil of Africa, you took on an obligation that can't never be shirked. You belong to me."

"I didn't snatch anyone from anywhere." This was old ground, and Jitty loved it. I was thoroughly sick of it.

"The sins of the father," she mumbled darkly.

My hands covered in the cherry-bejeweled batter, I picked up a knife and contemplated its sharp edge.

Jitty snorted. "No matter how I devil you, you can't hurt me with a knife. I'm already dead."

It was a well-taken point, but I wasn't defeated. I turned the blade to my chest. "What would happen to you if something happened to me?" I asked.

Her black currant eyes flickered. I finally had her. I was the last of the Delaneys. If I died, she'd have no one left to haunt.

Jitty sniffed. "Could be that I go wherever you go, for eternity." She jangled her annoying silver bangles. "Best thing for you to do is marry that banker man, have some kids, and pass me on to the next generation. It's tradition." She gave me a dark look. "Never been a Delaney woman couldn't catch her a man if she put her mind to it." Her bony finger pointed me up and down. "Look at yourself. You could be a knockout with that Delaney bone structure and your mama's figure, but you a mess, girl. Wearing your dead aunt's muumuu, no makeup and no foundation garments. And after all that time LouLane spent after your mama died, tryin' to teach you how to dress and behave. Wasted. Just wasted. No man wants a woman acts like a bag lady. You act like you've given up on yourself, like you can't tighten the rope on Harold Erkwell." She leaned closer. "Like maybe you're afraid to try."

Anger prevented a reply. The idea that Jitty would so willingly sacrifice me for financial security was infuriating. Especially to Harold Erkwell! But then, according to Jitty, sacrifice of the female was as much a Delaney tradition as tortured female organs.

"You're really pushing me. I--"

The solemn tones of the front doorbell caught me in mid-threat.

"It's one of your friends, one of the rich ones," Jitty said, fading slowly into the drab afternoon light. "What we need is a butler." Her voice echoed eerily in the kitchen. "Your grandma knew the value of a butler. That woman had class, which went a long way toward offsetting her female troubles. If she'd had more children than just your father, me and Dahlia House wouldn't be in this condition." She was gone.

Wiping my hands on a cloth, I went to the front door. I had no intention of opening it, but I was curious.

I heard my visitor beating against the old oak. She had tiny little fists, I deduced by the rat-a-tat sound.

"Sarah Booth Delaney, open up right this minute. I know you're in there." Staccato yipping punctuated the demand.

I closed my eyes. Tinkie Bellcase Richmond, one of Zinnia's most prominent "ladies," was at my door. She was accompanied by her six-ounce, pain-in-the-ass dog, Chablis. The mutt was so delicate that "if she fell off the sofa, she might break her legs." In Tinkie's book, that was a good quality. Tinkie's own moment of crowning glory was when the local doctor found her anemic and gave her prescription vitamins, an indicator that she was the type of woman who required high maintenance and special attention. I leaned against the door and hoped she'd go away.

"Sarah Booth, you can't hide from me." She pounded harder while the dust mop yapped at her feet.

I had no choice but to open the door. Avery Bellcase, Tinkie's father, was on the board of directors of the Bank of Zinnia. He might, at that very moment, be reviewing my last, desperate loan application. I didn't need Tinkie running home to tell him I'd been rude to her. At my level of society, being poverty-stricken was far more desirable than being rude.

I opened the door a crack. "Hi, Tinkie." The sun caught the salon highlights of Tinkie's perfect hairdo. "Hi, Chablis," I said to the dog, who was also glitzed.

"Are you going to ask us in?" Tinkie asked, disapproval on her perfectly made-up face.

"I've had the flu. I don't think you should expose yourself to my germs. I've been terribly sick." It was the only excuse that would explain my muumuu and bedraggled appearance, and appeal to Tinkie's view that illness was a sign of femininity.

Tinkie waved aside my concerns. "Madame Tomeeka just told me that a dark man from the past is coming back to Zinnia." She pushed through the door. "What am I going to do?"

Her face was bright with excitement. Obviously this dark man from the past was more exciting than her husband Oscar. A mummy would be more interesting than Oscar. But Oscar had wealth and power, two things in short supply at Dahlia House.

Customer Reviews

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Them Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
wendy313 More than 1 year ago
Carolyn Haines is a fun writer who brings humor and excitement to her mysteries and I couldn't put "Them Bones" down. I really enjoyed it. The Nook version, however, makes it necessary to pause every couple of pages and figure out the word that was meant to there; for instance "his ringers" was meant to be "his fingers", "she rilled a plate" was meant to be "she filled a plate" and so on. I found it rather annoying because I really enjoy the author's southern references and terms, and at several typos I had to figure out if it was a southern term or a typo. It's certainly no reason not to read the book, but it pops up enough to make you wonder if anyone copy edits the e-version of books before offering them for download. Many Nookbooks have this same annoying snag. At this writing, Barnes & Noble has yet to offer member discounts for Nookbooks (as they do with books from the brick and mortar stores) so when you pay full price for a book, you shouldn't have to mentally copy edit while you read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THEM BONES was full of non-stop laughter. I gave it to my girlfriend when I was done and she had it read in a day! Anyone looking for romance and a pick-me-up should read this book.
Basta4love More than 1 year ago
This book takes you to a place where most of us have never been; doing anything to keep the old family home alive and having a family ghost by your side. Great characters, fun read and simply delightful.
jenn34 More than 1 year ago
I was recommended this series to read. I loved this book and the characters in it. I really enjoyed the suspense in this book and could not put it down. It was a very enjoyable book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Had I not had to work, swim or do anything else, I would have finished this book straight from when I picked it up. A treasure. I can relate to the protagonist as a single 33 year old, but also to almost every other character and the suspense nearly killed me. She weaves a great tale and I just put her other five books into my shopping cart. I've found a new great author!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I haven't been able to put this book down since I started it. I have already purchased the second in the series and can hardly wait to start reading it. Hope the series continues.
Mike_C48 More than 1 year ago
Set in a fictional Mississippi-Delta town, the Sarah Booth Delaney series is a delightful and engaging detective drama. This is the first book in the series, explaining how Sarah Booth Delaney got her start as a private detective. This book resparked my interest in reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very light easy read. I enjoyed it and plan to read more of the series. Had a great twist at the end. Funny references to southern women and their attitudes and traditions ( really funny if you grew up in the south as I did, I know these people) LOL
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book series but the first book has 'incorrect' text in it. There were things similar to '#$*&@'. I also found lower case 'l' instead of upper case 'I'...probably because this was converted with an 'optical character reader' (OCR) and the OCR didn't know what to do with some of the words. Obviously no one proofed the book! That said, it was worth figuring out the words...
Anonymous 6 months ago
bmoruz More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was a little silly with the main character talking to a ghost throughout. It was also long winded in parts. Didn't need so many characters. I was rushing through to the end to figure out who did it.
BarbsReviews on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a great first book in the series. Sarah Booth is just wonderful and so funny. I was wanting to know what was going to happen next and how she was going to get herself out of the mess she was in.
ethel55 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sarah Booth Delaney, much like Scarlett O'Hara, is desperate to save her family home, Dahlia House. The bank is knocking at the door everyday, so she and the resident ghost, Jitty, cook up a plan involving dog-napping. She's so successful, she's hired by Tinkie Bellcase Richmond to delve into the Garrett family secrets to unearth what happened almost two decades ago. The return of the mysterious Hamilton Garrett the fifth has many women in Zinnia very curious. This was a fun southern mystery, where everyone has three names or a number attached to them and 'Daddy's Girls' learn how to be real southern women. Sarah Booth is definitely a little more Scarlett than Stephanie, but it was a promising beginning to a new to me series.
MaddieBloom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though one of the main characters is the ghost of a long dead nanny who still haunts the family plantation. Sarah Booth Delaney is the heroine, bravely striving to hold off the bank's foreclosure of her home, falls into a surprisingly profitable new career as a PI. Great in one sitting, June 1, 2011.
TheLibraryhag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sarah Booth Delaney needs to save the farm. With no source of ready cash, she and her resident ghost hatch a plan to kidnap her friend Tinkie's treasured Yorkie. After "solving" that mystery, Tinkie hires her again to solve an old murder. This is a funny and entertaining story. Think Stephanie Plum in the sticks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series ! I am going to read them all. Great ideas.
Talkingt77 More than 1 year ago
Sarah Booth Delaney is the just the Daddy's Girl you need if you have a problem. The problem is she has problems of her own. This story will have you laughing out loud and wondering what will happen next. Everyone in town seems to know things that shouldn't be known. When Sarah starts asking questions about things from the past, people are beginning to get very nervous. You will enjoy every minute of this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A funny and wonderful story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You won't be disappointed. Sara and accompanying characters are very enjoyable. Something new is always around the corner and humor to boot.
SirCap More than 1 year ago
This is a great first book in a cozy mystery series. I never read a cozy mystery before, but I have thoroughly enjoyed Sherlock Holmes, The Three Investigators, and the Hardy Boys. This is definitely a change of pace. It is unique because it is a "Southern" cozy mystery. If you're outside of the south, you will find a few things in here that you may not be familiar with. (I moved into the south, so I've only learned them since living down here.) It is a great start to a character desperate to try anything to come up with the money to save her family's house. She decides to become an investigator, a P.I., for a case that she committed, desperate to get money from a friend she knows is rich. By doing so, she gets caught up in a real mystery, a mystery that she is dying to know the answer to about her small town. She is new at investigating, but this feels like it could be a character that develops even more so as the series progresses. One odd aspect, is the family ghost in her house, but it does add a bit of colorful humor to it, and someone to bounce dialog off of since the main character lives alone. Overall, a great start to the series. great book, and done beautifully on audio. 5/5 Stars.
justmeRL More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed enough to get the second in the series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Sarah Booth is a hoot! She and I could be friends.....Kept my attention, good mystery and I loved the characters and history. I've started the second already!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago