Monday, August 3, 2009

What’s a Few Wrinkles and Slobber Among Friends?

My name is Doris and I am an addict.

I am addicted to Southern mysteries which feed my love for sweet tea, Paula Deen, and odd characters. I have spent large chunks of time living in other regions of the United States and in Europe, but it is the South that calls to me and is the place I feel at home. In reading some of the numerous Southern mysteries, I find comfort, laughter, a sense of the absurd and just plain old-fashioned enjoyment. For me, there’s nothing better than a comfortable chair on a screened-in-porch, a glass of lemonade, a cool breeze, and a Virginia Lanier book.

Like so many of her peers, Lanier carries on the tradition of the feisty Southern female who has an irresistible assortment of colorful friends and relatives surrounding her. Jo Beth Sidden has an ex-husband named Bubba who is determined to kill her, a streak of Southern stubbornness a mile wide, and a deep love for her unusual line of work. Jo Beth has something else very hard for me to resist—bloodhounds. Be forewarned: if you love dogs, you are going to want a bloodhound by the time you finish this book.

Jo Beth is a breeder and trainer of bloodhounds for search and rescue teams. She and her bloodhound partner cover a three county area of deep Georgia, right on the Okefenokee Swamp. Committed to helping the law enforcement agencies and individuals that contact her, Jo Beth often places herself in extreme conditions. Testing herself and her dog Bobby Lee in every search, Jo Beth is an interesting blend of stubbornness, pride and strength with a dash of quirkiness but she also has a vulnerability that shows up at times, especially when she has to face the reality that someone she once loved is planning to kill her.

Death in Bloodhound Red is the first book of Virginia Lanier’s bloodhound series. It won the 1996 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for both the 1995 Agatha Award and the 1996 McCavity Award for Best First Novel. Something of a late bloomer, Lanier was sixty-nine years old when she began writing. She once told an interviewer that it all started because she was reading a book she hated. She tossed the book across the room and told her husband Hoss she could write a better book anytime. He dared her to do so and five months later Death in Bloodhound Red was accepted for publication. It is a well-crafted blend of character development, fast action, introspection, and lore of the Okefenokee Swamp region. The plot in this one takes a couple of really interesting twists that will catch you off-guard, and you will absolutely fall in love with Bobby Lee. Lanier’s voice is true to the southern region she knew so well and to Jo Beth and her dogs. Unfortunately for those who have loved this skillful series of mysteries, Virginia Lanier died in 2003. Oh, how I wish she had written many more books!

Available at Main and Avoca: Death in Bloodhound Red, The House on Bloodhound Lane, A Brace of Bloodhounds, Blind Bloodhound Justice, Ten Little Bloodhounds, and A Bloodhound to Die For. Just look for F LAN.

Reviewed by Doris


  1. I will definitely check these out. But if you need another Southern author to feed your habit, do you know the Caroline Cousins books? Written by two cousins and set in the S. Caroline low country, they're great fun.

  2. We do know those books! We were thinking about doing a "Carolina on My Mind" Mysteries since there are so many nice series set there. Thanks for reminding us!

    Jeanne & Doris