I’d like to include in that pantheon of appreciation, a toast to Anne George. I fell in love with her Southern Sisters mysteries back in the 1990s. They feature Mary Alice Tate Sullivan Nachman Crane, “Aunt Sister,” six feet tall and admitting to 250 pounds, the wealthy three-time widowed older sister (although she decided to start counting her birthdays backward when she hit 66), and Patricia Anne Hollowell, “Mouse,” retired school teacher, five-feet one, 105 pounds, and still perfectly happy with her first husband, her real age of 61, and her naturally gray hair. If their parents hadn’t sworn that both girls had been born at home, Patricia Anne was convinced that one of them had been switched at birth.
There are eight books in the series, which ended prematurely with the author’s death in 2001. The warmth, humor (sometimes gentle, sometimes laugh-out-loud), and clever plots have been a soothing balm in choppy waters. Ms. George, who was also a Pulitzer-prize nominated poet, creates complex main characters that drive the action, but also a finely-honed supporting cast that has the reader anxious to learn more about them as well.
These wonderful stories allowed me to escape to a sweet, soft, albeit deadly community, with cornsticks and egg custard pie, and expressions like “common like pig tracks,” which, I’ve decided,is the perfect description of some of what I see on reality TV.
In an interview with mysterynet.com, Ms. George was asked:
Do you see humor as a means of coping with these sorts of problems?
She answered: I have been blessed with a family who uses humor as a means of dealing with problems. It’s a “might as well laugh” attitude and it works.
She’s right. Humor, even in the darkest of moments, can sometimes be the perfect medicine.
I also loved her description of her mysteries. “Let’s face it, these are definitely not hardcore mysteries. My son explains them as “nobody gets autopsied.”
And that’s okay too. All the CSI-gadgets in the world are no substitute for well-drawn characters, smart plotting, snappy dialogue, and a healthy sprinkle of humor.
If you’re looking for a delightful series, I recommend Anne George. She does the body good.
Murder Takes the Cake by Evelyn David
Murder Off the Books by Evelyn David