This series features budding forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson. She makes her debut in 1984’s Sick of Shadows, where she investigates a suspicious death at the wedding of her cousin Eileen. Throughout the series, Elizabeth continues to solve mysteries both foreign and domestic, as well as fall in love. We also get to meet Elizabeth’s lawyer brother, Bill and his radically feminist partner A.P. Hill. There are nine books in the series, ending with 2000’s PMS Outlaws.
Sissy: Sharyn McCrumb is one of my favorite authors. She has written other series that I also like but today we’ll focus on the very sharp-witted, interesting mystery series, led by the character of one Elizabeth MacPherson. When the author stopped writing this series to go onto other pursuits, I wanted to get in the car and drive to the South and beg her in person to continue writing. It was like having my favorite TV series cancelled. I went into mourning.
Bubby: It’s interesting to read these books back-to-back, which I have done, but not in a while. At the beginning of the series, Elizabeth is shy, has a fairly useless degree and no job prospects. The whole tone of the first few books is very light and fluffy but by the end of the series, McCrumb has really come into her own. She has developed a really nice sharp, dry sense of humor, which makes the last two books, If I Had Killed Him When I Met Him and PMS Outlaws, my very favorites. I also in love with the character A.P. Hill, a little tiny petite woman who thinks she’s Napoleon and wants to be appreciated for her brains, not her boobs. She takes feminism to a whole new level.
Sissy: I know how it is to be shorter than your average sixth grader and not be taken seriously.
Bubby: I don’t. Sorry.
Sissy: How can you feel empowered when you go up to the counter in some retail establishment and it hits you about nose level? I get A.P. Hill. I think I shall start calling myself S. I. Sy.
Bubby: S.I. Sy? Sounds like a new type of synthetic fabric! Really, at your age you should have achieved some sort of closure about your lack of stature. I shall have to get you a shirt that I saw someone wearing the other day. It said, “I’m not short, I’m fun-size!”
Sissy: I have one. I also have a shirt that has a picture of a grinning Cheshire Cat that says “We are all mad here.”
Bubby: I fail to see how that is relevant, except as an expression of your ongoing mental state . . .
Sissy: Speaking of which, the characters in these books are just crazy enough to be highly entertaining.
Bubby: I personally find Elizabeth’s obsession with Scottish culture to be a good example of the above, as demonstrated in Highland Laddie Gone. And then she takes her United Kingdom mania one step further in The Windsor Knot where she *gasp* gets a chance to attend a tea party with Her Royal Majesty.
Sissy: In the last few books the author shows a great understanding of the angst of middle-aged womanhood, which Bubby is in denial about.
Bubby: Not so! No denial here! As I am but a wee 29, middle age is far far far in my distant future, not just a memory as with Sissy.
Sissy: You’re delusional. And it’s just that sort of language usage that makes it impossible for me to have closure. Your words imply that there is something WRONG with being short, WRONG with being of a certain age. These things are actually positive! Do I have to start a rant? Do I have to stand on my soapbox? Do I need to start a grass-roots movement?
Bubby: I believe that the rant is already in progress.
Sissy: As scintillating as my rants are, I would like to get back on topic.
Sissy: I feel that I am giving our readers to this series we are giving them an early holiday gift. Nine good books. Happy Day! I give this series 4 1/2 bubbles.
Bubby: I agree. The series is well worth a read. My favorite line in all the books is when one of Bill’s clients informed him (while in jail for murdering her husband) “If I’d killed him when I met him, I’d be out by now”, hence the title of my favorite in the series. I give these books as a whole 4 bubbles. Happy Holidays!
Click HERE to buy Sick of Shadows by Sharyn McCrumb at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him by Sharyn McCrumb at Amazon.com
Click HERE to buy If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him by Sharyn McCrumb at BookDepository.com
© Bubble Bath Books 2012
Harlow Jane Cassidy thinks she is happy as a fashion designer in New York City. But when her great-grandmother passes away, she leaves her turn-of-the-century farmhouse to Harlow. Harlow decides to move back to Bliss, Texas and open up a dressmaking boutique called “Buttons and Bows” in her grandmother’s house. Her first customer is her old friend Josie who orders a custom wedding gown and bridesmaids dresses for her upcoming wedding. Everyone is thrilled until Josie’s boss and maid-of-honor turns up dead in Harlow’s flowerbed. To complicate matters, Harlow’s family has always secretly had a touch of “magic” and people are starting to ask questions. Add to this an intriguing handyman and the fact that Great-Grandma’s spirit may not have actually left the building and you get one enchanting book.
Sissy: First of all, I wish my name was Harlow Jane Cassidy and that I had a magical gift.
Bubby: You DO have a magical gift! You sing like a choir of angels!
Sissy: I knew there was a reason I kept you around, Bubby. I also love Texan accents, beautiful clothing and goats. Maybe not so much on the goats. But this is a good new series, a good new heroine, and they don’t say curse words or have tempestuous sexual encounters.
Bubby: Note to self – in the future, blogging must occur BEFORE 7 p.m. or else Sissy’s brain has already gone to sleep. “I love goats?” Really? Let me explain: all the women in the Cassidy family have a magical gift. There is a family legend about how these gifts were acquired, but I’ll let the reader find that out. Harlow’s grandma’s gift is, well, for lack of a better term, goat whispering. Yep. Bet you wish you were a goat whisperer too, right Sissy?
Sissy: Actually I would be completely devastated if that were my gift. Goat meat. Have you ever tasted goat? It’s nasty. Same with goat cheese.
Bubby: I don’t know, a little chevre on a rye cracker with a touch of-
Sissy: I wasn’t finished. (Chevre? When Bubby says this word she pronounces it “Shev-ruh gut rumble”. She should just call it what it is – goat schmutz.) Anyway, all the women in this book are quirky, funny and strong, even if the woman if a ghost. I am a huge proponent of books with strong female characters.
Bubby: I think you may have mentioned that before, but I do agree. Strong women rule! This story had all my favorite elements. It had fashion, (not that I personally have any fashion sense but I like to pretend) diamonds, romance, magic and mystery. Fabulous. Just right for a Halloween read.
Sissy: Yes, perhaps I am repeating myself, but at this time of night I am half-blind and a quarter deaf.
Bubby: Oh, so many opportunities in that statement, Sissy. I will refrain from asking how that is any different than usual and just mention to our readers that it is all of 8:39 p.m. Wow. Bring out the curfew police!
Sissy: You have no respect for my advanced age and frailty. I appreciated how Ms. Bourbon wrote characters who connected so well with one another and how she gives us a glimpse of Harlow’s evolution from city girl back to country girl.
Bubby: I agree. I think my favorite character was Great-Grandma, even though she never says a word and is dead before the book starts. She communicates with Harlow through the house – a banging pipe here, a falling shelf there and is just as feisty in death as we are told she was when alive. I also enjoyed the storyline about the Cassidy’s lineage – I hope that more is revealed in future books.
Sissy: Yes. The author hints at family mysteries and treasure to be revealed at some future date. My favorite character was Grandma Coleta because she is old and crusty and I liked the goat named Thelma Louise.
Bubby: I can sense it! You DO want to be a goat whisperer! Just because your cat abandoned you for a pampered indoor life with the neighbors doesn’t mean you should turn to a life of goat herding. I was initially concerned that there was no romance in this story but it starts creeping in about half-way through and I really enjoyed the interplay between Harlow and “the man”. Don’t want to reveal too much, now. I think this is a great read. I rate Pleating for Mercy a solid 4 bubbles.
Sissy: This has nothing to do with Lucy the traitor cat. At least I don’t spend my days trying to make snooty foods like shev-ruh-(guhguh) – whatever. I will be reading the next books in this series for sure. (Book two is A Fitting End and #3 is Deadly Patterns.) The rating from me is 3.5 bubbles.
© Bubble Bath Books 2012