Boll weevils and genetically altered cotton threaten a plantation in Zinnia, Miss.
Barely over their Costa Rican escapade (Wishbones, 2008), Sarah Booth Delaney and Tinkie Richmond, partners in Sunflower County’s Delaney Detective Agency, are bedeviled by disastrous events at the derelict Carlisle plantation. The old place is a source of constant friction between its feuding heirs, brother and sister Luther and Erin, who can’t agree whether to sell it off to developer Jimmy Janks. Four people who recently visited the property, including Tinkie’s husband Oscar, now hover near death. The doctors are puzzled. So are two scientists from the CDC and a pair from the Mississippi Agri-team. While the sheriff falls for the CDC bombshell, Tinkie wills her husband to live; Sarah Booth converses with Jitty (the ghost only she hears) and fights nausea; and their best pal Cece, a transgendered reporter, goes investigating and gets her nose bashed. Has a plague overtaken the county? Is someone fiddling with nature for nefarious reasons? Before Zinnia sinks back into its usual good manners and genteel deportment, casualties will mount; a whole cotton crop will be devastated; and Sarah Booth will once again blithely saunter into danger any reader could have warned her about several chapters earlier.
Yes, the villains are fairly easy to spot and Sarah Booth’s love life is a tad schmaltzy, but Haines has added a nice little bite to her conversational comebacks, and it’s fun to watch Jitty’s astral wardrobe changes.