A California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal:
Community - Entertainment - Human Interest

Weekly issues every Saturday morning and other special articles throughout the week — there's something for everyone. Check out our sister site KRL News & Reviews for even more articles every week.

Previous post:

Next post:

A Pair of Darling Dahlias Mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert

IN THE September 12 ISSUE

FROM THE 2015 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andSandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

This week we have reviews & giveaways of a pair of Darling Dahlia mysteries from Susan Wittig Albert–The Darling Dahlias and the Silver Dollar Bush, just out in paperback, and the brand new hardback The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O’Clock Lady. Details on how to win copies of both at the end of this post, along with links to purchase them where a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy.

The Darling Dahlias and the Silver Dollar Bush by Susan Wittig Albert
Review by Sandra Murphy

The Dahlias, a women’s group in Darling, Alabama, are worried. The bank is closed, not just for Mr. Roosevelt’s bank holiday, but for longer since the state auditors visited. No one knows when or if it will reopen. Accounts are frozen so no one can get any money—shopkeepers can’t pay for new goods, customers can’t pay for what they need. The rest of the country is in the same shape after the Great Depression. book

Still, there are things to look forward to, like canning rhubarb with the rest of the garden club, a Clark Gable
movie (same price as a wash-and-set at the Beauty Bower), or a good thirty-five cent meal (a pork chop, mashed potatoes, green beans and coffee, pie a bit more) at the diner. And for the men, there’s Mickey’s moonshine.
Liz works in the lawyer’s office and is dating Grady. People expect them to marry, but Liz isn’t ready just yet. She bought a little house for herself and relishes the privacy she never had while living with her mother. One of the things that worry the Dahlias is the new man at the bank. No one knows just who he is—he just showed up and announced he was the new president—so is he legit? His plan to save the town with something called Darling Dollars sounds like a scam. On the other hand, what have they got left to lose?

Verna, the county treasurer, has ways to find out if the new bank man is a friend or foe. The former bank president is blamed for everything that’s gone wrong, whether justified or not. Tempers run high as money runs low.

As always, there are elements of mystery throughout—who gave away the location of the still, who stole the scrip before it could be distributed, is the new bank president a help or hindrance, will Fannie from the hat shop get back together with Charlie Dickens the newspaper publisher, what happened between Grady and Liz, and will Liz’s mother ever recover from it? Still, the story is mainly character-driven. Each book is a chance to catch up with old friends who happen to live in the 1930s.

This is book five in the series, the paperback version of last year’s hardcover. Number six, The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O’Clock Lady is just out—review follows. Plan on reading all six—you won’t want to miss a thing.

You can use this link to purchase this book where a portion goes to help support KRL & Mysterious Galaxy:

The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O’Clock Lady by Susan Wittig Albert
Review by Sandra Murphy

An “eleven o’clock lady” is a flower that doesn’t bloom until the sun shines fully on it. It’s also appropriate to call Rona Jean Hancock an eleven o’clock lady, since her shift as a telephone operator ends at 11 p.m. Rona’s a friendly girl—some say too friendly, since she has boyfriends that sometimes overlap.

Business in Darling, Alabama is finally picking up so that people have a bit of extra money to spend. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) brought jobs to town as part of FDR’s plan to circulate money after the Great Depression. Clear-cutting of pine trees without the thought that more should be planted left soil open to erosion. The CCC will plant trees, drain the swamp to get rid of mosquitos (and other wildlife), and maybe build a dam that will create a lake as a tourist attraction. A number of the Darling Dahlias, the local garden club, work at the camp. book

Myra May and Violet own the diner and half of the telephone exchange. While picking green beans, Violet notices the garage doors are ajar and finds Rona’s body in the front seat of their car. It appears Rona was strangled with her own silk stocking.

Gossip spreads faster than melted butter in Darling, so it’s no time at all before everyone knows Rona was pregnant. It’s more than embarrassing for newly elected Sheriff Buddy Norris, who dated Rona a few times. She was pretty aggressive with her affections and he wisely backed away. Still, a few of the snoopier old ladies feel he should be more a suspect than investigator.

When Buddy finds the huge sum of $140 in Rona’s room, he has to wonder: was she blackmailing the father of the baby?
There’s more than one mystery going on. Charlie Dickens, publisher of the local newspaper, gets anonymous phone calls and notes telling of kickbacks at the CCC camp when dealing with local vendors.

Across the country and in Darling, times are changing. Women work outside the home, wear slacks in public, and even smoke. Alcohol is legal but true Southerners prefer their moonshine.

Liz still works for Mr. Mosely, although she did see him socially a few times when she spent a few months working for his friend Mr. Jackman. The Beauty Bower is back to busy days, making “an ordinary woman pretty and the pretty woman beautiful.”

One of the more shocking surprises comes from Liz’s mother, a bossy woman, prone to interfering in Liz’s life and not above hysterics when she doesn’t get her way. She lives just across the street from Liz.

Albert ties all the mysteries together for a satisfying ending as well as a look into the lives of survivors of the Depression. Of course, with so many changes going on in Darling, readers will be anxious for the next installment to catch up on the latest gossip. If only we could drop by the Beauty Bower…

This is the sixth book in the series. Albert also writes the China Bayles herb shop mysteries (25), the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter mysteries (8), three nonfiction books (more coming soon) and a dozen books co-authored with her husband, Bill Albert, where she writes as Robin Paige.

To enter to win a copies of both Darling Dahlia books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Dahlia,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 19, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

You can use this link to purchase this book where a portion goes to help support KRL & Mysterious Galaxy:

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra’s short stories on UnTreed Reads including her new one Bananas Foster. Sandy’s latest short story “The Tater Tot Caper” is one of eleven stories in The Killer Wore Cranberry: Fourths of Mayhem. The annual Thanksgiving anthology has eleven stories and this year, includes recipes. And it’s on sale! Available in all e-versions and in print.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura F.
Twitter: @fryebbe
September 12, 2015 at 8:45am

I love this series. The characters are interesting and the setting is perfect. Thanks for the reviews.


2 DOWARD WILSON September 12, 2015 at 5:01pm

A great review. This made me move the series up on my TBR list. Thanks for the chance to win.


3 Valerie Hoynacki September 13, 2015 at 7:28am

Haven’t read this series but I lave books with settings in a different time era. Sign me up!!


4 Annette Naish September 13, 2015 at 10:58am

I have never read a bad book by Ms Albert. And the Dahlia Series is terrific. Would love to win.


5 Taffy Hill September 14, 2015 at 5:36am

Have always loved Ms Albert’s writing.
Great characters and settings.
thank you!!


6 Amy Donovan September 14, 2015 at 5:57am

I LOVE Susan Wittig Albert books!


7 Radhika September 14, 2015 at 6:25am

I simply adore this series. Hope I win


8 Olivia September 14, 2015 at 6:32am

The Dahlias are great!


9 JUDITH BARNES September 14, 2015 at 6:47am

I’m a China Bayles fan. Now I’m interested in this series.


10 Teresa Young September 14, 2015 at 6:49am

This series is wonderful. I have just finishing The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star, and am looking forward to reading the next two.


11 Rudi Lee September 14, 2015 at 7:03am

I love this series! Susan Wittig Albert is one of my favorite authors; I’ve read all of the China Bayle books and the first 3 of the Darling Dahlias. I would love to win these books!


12 Pamela Kisor September 14, 2015 at 8:13am

So excited about the upcoming Dahlia book! Love the Beatrix Potter books, too, and getting acquainted with Chyna Bayles! Thanks for being so talented!

Pamela Kisor
PO 493
Chauncey, Ohio 45719


13 Kirsten Meacham September 14, 2015 at 8:21am

A wonderful series! I love the Dahlia ladies and their adventures. I’ve also learned more about that time in our history. I wish there were many more books in this series!


14 Jean McNeil September 14, 2015 at 8:21am

I love this series. The author is very careful with her research. So, her readers get a great story and a true glimpse into the way of life in a small southern town during the depression.


15 Kirsten Meacham September 14, 2015 at 8:23am

A wonderful series! I wish there were many more books in this series.


16 PJ Tonkin September 14, 2015 at 9:04am

I love the Darling Dahlias. I would love to win a copy of the Eleven O.Clock Lady.
I also enjoy the China Bayles series.


17 Susan Salzman September 14, 2015 at 11:14am

I found Susan Wittig Albert’s writing with the China Bayles series and have enjoyed the Darling Dahlia’s as well. She can paint such a picture of a small town.


18 Karen Durban September 14, 2015 at 1:45pm

I haven’t tried this series yet but would love to!


19 c sager September 14, 2015 at 1:57pm

love the Dahlia’s and the Cottage Tales {historical fiction} and the Robin Paige historical fiction!


20 Carol
Twitter: @blacklabmom
September 14, 2015 at 2:21pm

Love the darling Dahlias; each personality is distinct and not quite spelled out so you can use your imagination to fill in the blanks. I always feel let down after I finish a book, knowing it will be a year before the next book is out.


21 Morgen Pittman
Twitter: @ddpuss
September 14, 2015 at 2:29pm

Susan Wittig Albert is my favorite author, but I’m behind on my Dahlias, so this would be perfect for me. Thanks for the opportunity.


22 Becky September 14, 2015 at 2:50pm

LOVE all things Susan Wittig Albert!!


23 Ann September 14, 2015 at 5:33pm

Love this series. Love the historical context, the clues for the mystery are clever but fair, and the characters are old friends. Thanks for the opportunity to visit with them.


24 Deb damhorst September 14, 2015 at 11:34pm

this year Our Herb Guild read the first book in the China Bayles series and I am hooked!!! Love the characters and herbal info, but especially how each book ends and the next book takes you off on a new and exciting adventure. Susan, you are simply, Marvelous!!!


25 Marie DeGennaro September 15, 2015 at 6:27am

Wonderful Book Series!


26 Susan Cobler September 15, 2015 at 7:44am

I have read all the China Bayles series, but none of the others. I LOVE Susan Wittig Albert. This would be an opportunity to be exposed to another of her series. Thank you.


27 Kimberly Hartsfield September 15, 2015 at 9:56am

I absolutely love Susan and her new series with the Darling Dahlias. I feel like I enter a new world and have a group of new friends. I relish each new book!!!


28 Sherri September 15, 2015 at 10:01am

I absolutely love Susan Albert Wittig’s books.


29 Donna B. Russell September 15, 2015 at 1:30pm

I love all of Susan Wittig Albert’s books, and have read all but these two in tge Darling Dahlias series. It would be great to win these so I could catch up. Great reviews, by the way!


30 Carolyn Collins September 15, 2015 at 3:43pm

Love the Darling Dahalias!!!!!


31 Megan S September 15, 2015 at 5:31pm

This is my favorite of her series! Would love to have them!!


32 JUDITH BARNES September 15, 2015 at 6:55pm

I’m a fan.


33 Janet M.
Twitter: @harbingerdc
September 16, 2015 at 4:11am

A great review for a great series!


34 Becky Prazak September 16, 2015 at 8:40am

Love this series.


35 Stacie Amelotte September 18, 2015 at 10:08pm

Need to bump this series up on my list. Thanks for the giveaway!
scouts579 (at) aol (dot) com


36 Todd Leister September 18, 2015 at 10:10pm

Sounds like a good series!
taleister86 (at) aol (dot) com


37 Todd Leister September 18, 2015 at 10:13pm

Oops! Typed my email wrong.
taleister86 (at) yahoo (dot) com


38 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
September 28, 2015 at 1:29pm

We have a winner
Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher


Leave a Comment

Twitter ID
(ID only; No links or "@" symbols)

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Arts & Entertainment

  • Books & Tales

  • Community

  • Education

  • Food Fun

  • Helping Hands

  • Hometown History

  • Pets

  • Teens

  • Terrific Tales