I became aware of Carolyn Haines through the Trouble Cat Mystery Series. Carolyn, along with authors, Susan Y. Tanner (Author, Editor), Miranda James (Author), Joanne Pence (Author), Caroline Fardig (Author), Connie Shelton (Author), Ritter Ames (Author), Larissa Reinhart (Author), Pamela Sue DuMond (Author), Jaden Terrell (Author), Susan Boles (Author), Ava Mallory (Author), Claire Matturro (Author), Rebecca Barrett (Author) have conspired to write these delightful books about Trouble, the sophisticated black cat detective with a British flair. He relates, particularly, to Benedict Cumberbatch’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes . I’ve read several in the series, and can’t wait to finish them all!
Carolyn, however, personifies the word, prolific! She has authored the Sarah Booth Mystery Series, Pluto’s Snitch Mystery Series, the Fear Familiar Series, a collection aptly named, Carolyn’s Dark Side, and numerous anthologies and short stories. My focus, today, is on her Sarah Booth Mystery Series. From the first, Dem Bones (2009) to Independent Bones (May, 2021), she has engaged readers with spunky detective, Sarah Booth.
Kirkus Reviews characterizes the series as “Stephanie Plum meets the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”
In Carolyn’s own words:
When Dr. Alala Diakos, a visiting professor of Greek literature, comes to teach at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, it doesn’t take long for controversy to follow. With her fervent feminist ideals and revolutionary leanings, she quickly earns the admiration of many—and the ire of others. During a speech in the park, in which Alala tries to organize the women of Zinnia to demand equal pay, the crowd gets unruly, with men heckling the professor. And when PI Sarah Booth Delaney finds a sniper rifle and scope in the bushes, she begins to worry that there are more than fighting words at stake.
Sarah Booth calls her boyfriend, Sheriff Coleman Peters, who offers the protection of the Zinnia police department, but Alala rejects him, saying she has no use for the law or men. And when a notorious domestic abuser is found dead the next day, suspicions turn to Alala herself, who was overheard bragging that she would take him down. Tensions deepen when connections are drawn between Alala and two similar, previous deaths.
But Sarah Booth doesn’t want to believe Alala is a murderer, and when the professor shows up at Sarah Booth’s doorstep, asking her to find the real criminal, Sarah Booth embarks on a case stretching across the Delta. Yet Alala remains at the center of it all, and Sarah Booth can’t help but wonder if the killer has been with her all along…
In Carolyn’s own words:
A lot of people ask me how I started writing about the Mississippi Delta. My hometown, Lucedale, is way down in the Southeast corner of the state. That section is called the pine barrens, and it lives up to its name. Pine trees are a cash crop, and thousands of acres were once owned by the big paper companies. It’s a world very different from the Mississippi Delta.
My first visit to the Delta was as a photojournalist. I went to Parchman State Prison to do a newspaper story. Parchman was notorious at that time, and I can still remember the terrible desolation I felt when I looked out and saw mile after mile of heat and cotton. But the Delta also has fabulous wealth. And it has the blues. I knew then, at the age of 21, that I would one day write about that land of stark contrasts and strange beauty.
Sarah Booth and Jitty came to me in tandem, arguing just as they do in the books. When such fully developed characters visit a writer, it’s truly a gift. I didn’t know Sarah Booth was a private investigator–in fact she didn’t either–until I’d started writing the book (Them Bones). Now, it’s become my challenge to give her interesting cases to solve.