Itinerant guardian angel Augusta Goodnight (Angel at Troublesome Creek, 1999) is now pouring her heavenly balm over grieving Prentice Dobson. In the space of barely two months Prentice has (1) lost her job when the Atlanta-based Martha's Journal folded; (2) lost her lover, who flew off to England; and (3) on retreating to rural Georgia and the family home cozily dubbed Smokerise, found her dear daddy had passed on and her younger sister Maggie, estranged from the rest of the family for the past three years, had perished in a car driven by her ex, volatile, drug-happy Sonny Gaines. How can the evanescent Augusta help Prentice cope? Mainly by baking yummies, running off curtains, and tidying up; it’s up to Prentice herself to deal with her family—specifically to figure out why her uncle Faris, dead and buried for 30 years, has been disinterred, and why his coffin now contains a lady in her underwear. Prentice must also find Maggie's infant son Joey, wrest him from the arms of a loving but slightly wacky Ola Cress, and hide him before the rootin’, tootin’ Gaines clan gets him. While Augusta bakes and cleans, Prentice dodges a mysterious man with a beard; reunites, then separates from her beau; and winds up solving a decades-old charade that involves her uncle, stolen money, an undertaker, and Jasper the bad ’un—in fact almost everyone in sight except for the cat Noodles.
Far too many eccentric kinfolk, even for the South, and almost as many plot-holes.