It’s A Beautiful Day

A Bad Day for Mercy: A Crime Novel by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 272 pages)

A Bad Day for Scandal: A Crime Novel by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur Books – Reprint Edition, $14.99, 304 pages)

Stella Hardesty rides again!   Author Sophie Littlefield certainly has a talent for creating fresh and amusing mystery novels.   There’s a bit of down home in her main character, Stella Hardesty.   Her would-be boyfriend, Sheriff “Goat” Jones, makes a mighty fine love interest for followers of this series.   Stella’s friends and neighbors, mostly the ladies, come to her when husbands or boyfriends need a bit of attitude adjustment.

Usually, this reviewer would not read two books back-to-back that were written by the same author.   Well, breaking rules can be a whole bunch of fun.   Scandal and Mercy are the latest in the series.   They were preceded by Sorry and Pretty.   Each book can stand on its own merits; however, there’s much to be gained by starting with the first book for readers who are new to Ms. Littlefield’s writing.

“This here’s the hospital,” Chip said, as they arrived in front of an imposing clot of buildings featuring a big square limestone main structure and any number of added-on bits in a variety of architectural styles, making the whole thing look like a LEGO set designed by a drunk and hostile modernist.”

The presenting challenge might be rescuing her sister’s stepson from creditors who are seeking repayment for gambling debts, or a snotty former classmate of Stella’s who needs assistance with disposing of a dead body.   Stella does not shrink from a formidable opponent or smelly situation.   These characters are not the ones you’ll find in a British mystery – proper and polished; however, the lessons learned as the mystery is solved are every bit as meaningful and undoubtedly more poignant.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

Review copies were provided by the publisher.

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