Love, death and sisterhood along the Suwannee River.
When a late-running appointment keeps Brad Pope from a diving lesson in Suwannee Springs, he arrives after someone has cut the support line and left diving instructor Jake Nunn dead. Even though Big Jake made All-American with the Florida Gators, he wasn’t a hero to everyone in the northern Florida town of Whitecross, particularly not to his widow, Gladys. As her psychologist, Brad Pope knows why: Big Jake abused her and stirred Brad to anger because of his equally abusive father. Now, Brad’s left his city practice to hang a shingle in Whitecross, confront his past and be company for his feisty grandmother Gigi Pope, founder of the Women’s Preservation Club. The club’s “sisterfriends” have made an enemy of mortuary cosmetologist Myrtle Badger, who spreads rumors that the WPC is an evil cult, offering in evidence Gigi’s friendship with midwife Voodoo Sally. The more Brad learns about the sisterfriends, the more afraid he is to find out what their role might have been in Big Jake’s murder. But he has his secrets, too, in a tale so cozy that it includes some appended sisterfriends recipes.
In his fictional debut, psychologist Robinson (The Smart Guide to Managing Stress, 2012, etc.) can’t quite integrate crime and small-town Southern life, especially those comic residents who slide into caricature. Even the likable, voice-of-reason protagonist has his cornball moments, best swallowed quickly or skipped altogether.