The battle to win World War II is fought on many fronts, including Elderberry, Ga.
Librarian Virginia Balliew is nervous about chairing the big War Bond Rally scheduled for September 1943. Although bossy Emmaline Brumlow has foisted her nephew Buddy Oglesby on Virginia as a helper, Virginia’s more comfortable with the help of her old friend Miss Dimple Kilpatrick, a beloved first-grade teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Elderberry. The peaceful town is rocked when some children helping to pick cotton discover a skeleton, later identified as Cynthia Murphy, whose long-suffering husband had ignored her romantic dalliances. Her murder is not the only problem Miss Dimple has on her plate. She’s long lived in a rooming house run by her friend Phoebe Chadwick, who’s obviously in great distress over something she refuses to talk about; a backstage helper is shot and wounded at the Bond Rally; and someone has taken off with half the money—possibly Buddy, who’s also a suspect in the murder. Nor can Miss Dimple count on the young protégées who’ve helped her before (Miss Dimple Disappears, 2010, etc.), since both are immersed in wartime romances. Even so, she’ll have lots of assistance, sought and unsought, in her efforts to solve all the puzzles plaguing her beloved town.
Ballard’s nostalgic look at small-time life during the war provides plenty of down-home coziness along with a credible mystery.