Monday, April 16, 2007

Sweet and Deadly by Charlaine Harris

I love re-prints. Seriously. It's how I found Christina Dodd's Prescott Sisters Trilogy, and many more I have never dished on. Re-prints are like getting a new book by your favorite author, Jenny Crusie's Manhunting and Anyone But You come to mind (I bought the HC releases and the new paperbacks just to feel like I was getting a new Crusie, even though I owned the older versions already). A re-print can hold our hand while we walk down memory lane, introduce us to a new/old author, or in this case, allow us to see how one of our favorite author's work has changed over the years. So without further ado...

Sweet and Deadly by Charlaine Harris

Catherine Linton has returned to her hometown of Lowfield, Mississippi, unconvinced that the death of her parents in a car crash six months earlier was an accident, And her suspicions are confirmed when she stumbles upon the dead and beaten body of her doctor-father's longtime nurse. There are secrets being kept in Lowfield, and the town where Catherine grew up may be the same place where she is sent to her grave...

To be totally lame - This BCC is sweet. Short and sweet that is. And you know how I loves me a short and sweet BCC. Truth be told, though, I didn't even read it until just now. You know, Harris is a must buy for me, and this was no exception. I will say, the front cover stating "THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK" was a thrill. I discovered Harris around her third Dead book, Club Dead, and immediately went in search of her other titles. I wasn't very fond of her Aurora Teagarden series (they were just OK), but I LOVE Lily Bard (and am quite sad there are no more planned right now), and Sookie of course is my fave (probably because she was my first) and Harper quickly found a place on my keeper shelf. So, a chance to read the book that started it all, was just too much excitement to pass up on!

The first thing I noticed was that this book was not written in First Person. Every book I have ever read by Harris has been First, but this one, her very first one, was written in Third Om. The voice was most definitely that of Harris, but the change of POV threw me for a few pages. It was odd, seeing the short sentences that seem so natural for a First character written in Om, and at times it felt rather choppy.

Six months ago, Catherine Linton's parents were killed in a car accident. Murdered, actually, as some one had tampered with the car. The killer is still out there, and Catherine has been living back in her hometown of Lowfield, working at the weekly paper, until the killer makes his next move. Her parents death changed Catherine in many ways, she's become withdrawn from all of her old friends, and she knows the townspeople think she's become an eccentric crazy person.

When Catherine goes target shooting on some of the land she rents out, one hot Saturday morning, Her mother had raised her to be a lady. Her father had taught her how to shoot. , she discovers a body in the rundown old shack on the property. Numb with disbelief, Catherine heads straight to town to tell the sheriff. But once the identity of the victim is discovered, Catherine finds herself on the suspect list.

Leona Gaites had been Catherine's doctor-fathers nurse for all of Catherine's memory. Not a particularly friendly woman, Leona had no family and just as many friends. But this now makes three people close to Catherine murdered, and Catherine is sure they have to be connected. But as the investigation wears on, it becomes clear that the old unfriendly nurse had quite the lucrative side business, and she was making quite a bit of money off secrets the townspeople of Lowfield would rather have kept silent.

With her co-worker at the paper (and tenant), Tom, digging to find the truth of the matter (like any reporter, and her boss Randall taking on a new role in her life (that of boyfriend), Catherine's life continues to become that not of her own, as the townspeople begin to start confessing their sins. Catherine knows she needs to find the killer, not only to clear her own name, but to find the truth of what happened to her parents. When she loses yet another person close to her, it becomes clear that she needs to know who is doing this and fast, before she becomes next on his list.

The cast of characters in Lowfield are amazing. Harris captures the essence of the small town south like no other author I've read. The racial tension of the times (the book was originally published in 1981), the way we know everyone in town and how we rarely notice the changes time has on them until forced to, "...,and for a moment the hand of time lay heavy on her shoulder....This pleasant , hearty, proud man was going, bit by bit."

And once again, this was classic Harris. The first line of the book is, She passed a dead dog on her way to the tenant shack. And we come full circle as the last says, ...a little boy cried over his supper because his dun-colored dog had been missing for four days.

It really was an interesting reading experience. I kept wondering, would I have chosen this for FAB? But I couldn't really think in those terms, I mean, I would have been maybe 5 at the time this was released, and though I was reading at the age of 3, I don't think my momma would have allowed me to read this.

They saw their barge....the answering sound of the horn drifted, melancholy and beautiful, over the dark morning river.

Take Care

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