The murder of a newcomer to the little Georgia town of Elderberry deeply disturbs longtime residents.
Beloved schoolteacher Dimple Kilpatrick (Miss Dimple Picks a Peck of Trouble, 2014, etc.) and her friends are doing their best to help the war effort in 1944. The strain of their fear for loved ones in the armed services and the deprivations of everyday life are redoubled when Odessa Kirby, the wonderful cook at the boardinghouse owned by Miss Dimple’s friend Phoebe Chadwick, leaves to care for a relative. But this latest problem is quickly resolved by the mysterious appearance of Augusta Goodnight (Hark! The Herald Angel Screamed, 2008, etc.), whose cooking, cleaning, and sympathetic manner quickly win over Miss Dimple and her friends who live at the boardinghouse. The arrival of Dora, a shy stranger with a paper bag of possessions who just wants to sit on the library porch, brings out the charitable impulses of the community members, who feed her and try to help her find a place to sleep. When she’s found dead in a local church, Miss Dimple is shocked and determined to find the truth. Her friends pitch in to hunt up clues, even making a trip to the town where Dora lived. Apparently Dora had left her husband and his horrible mother, who accuses her of theft but gives no details. Though Miss Dimple is reluctant to accompany another group of friends to a small town in Tennessee where more clues to Dora’s past may be found, Augusta convinces her to make the journey, which will change Miss Dimple’s life.
A heartwarming cozy, more notable for period details than mystery, pleasantly enriched by the meeting of Ballard’s two sleuthing heroines.