The best families of Zinnia, Miss., fear that a beautiful corpse will tie them to the Lincoln assassination.
No sooner has the puckishly named Olive Twist arrived at The Gardens B&B than she claims that her research will implicate the Lady in Red, a woman dead since the Civil War era, in President Abraham Lincoln’s shooting and demonstrate that she shares the same gene pool as either transgender society reporter Cece Falcon or wealthy Oscar Richmond, husband of Tinkie, Sarah Booth Delaney’s partner in her detective agency. The town’s old guard is so dismayed they ask the private eyes (Bonefire of the Vanities, 2012, etc.) to shush the historian. Sarah Booth and Tinkie have hardly gotten a word in when Olive’s room is firebombed; her overworked assistant, Jimmy Boswell, is poisoned; and Cece’s brother Jeremiah and Oscar’s cousin Buford begin urging the Heritage Pride Heroes, a bunch of redneck survivalists, to take up arms. Sarah Booth and her fiance, Graf, her dog Sweetie Pie and cat Pluto enter full detective mode, much to the chagrin of Sheriff Coleman, Sarah Booth's first love, who now seems so smitten with Olive that he never leaves her side. A rival historian staying at the B&B is thrilled with Olive’s woes. Graf goes missing. He is found. The Lady in Red’s corpse is abducted. Graf goes missing again. Jeremiah and Buford claim they have nothing to do with his disappearance. They don’t, but the B&B owner falls under suspicion. To find Graf and unravel the Lady in Red’s history, Sarah Booth must survive a car crash, get rescued by Pluto’s claws, trudge up to the Dahlia House attic to read old letters secreted in a trunk and accost a demented perp who’s loathed her for years.
Less chipper than most of Sarah Booth’s excursions—and it’s time to lay that silly ghost Jitty to rest.