Miss Dimple hunts a killer and teaches her town a lesson.
Amid the fear and deprivation of World War II, Miss Dimple Kilpatrick joins the search party in her small Georgia town to look for one of her students. She finds Peggy Ashcroft, who is very ill, only as darkness falls. A friendly dog guides her to the cabin of reclusive artist Mae Martha Hawthorne and her companion, Suzy, who’s been helping her recover from a leg injury. Their care helps the child survive until the phoneless home can get word to the doctor. But there’s no happy ending yet, for a few days later, a frantic call from Suzy brings Miss Dimple and her friends Charlie, Virginia and Annie rushing to the cabin, where they find Mae Martha dead from a blow to the head. The police suspect Suzy, who has disappeared, but Miss Dimple thinks the gentle, caring girl’s Japanese ancestry has sent her into hiding. When the desperate Suzy calls again, the ladies hide her in Virginia’s house while they search for the real killer. Mae Martha’s valuable painting may have provided a motive for murder, and although both her nephews seem to have loved her dearly, they must join her handyman and several neighbors as suspects. While some townsfolk denounce Suzy as a Japanese spy and a murderer, Miss Dimple and her friends continue the search for the truth. When the sleuths find Mae Martha’s handyman dead, they realize that they’d better solve the crimes quickly, as their own lives may be in danger.
Ballard complicates the generally heartwarming tone of her gently nostalgic mysteries (Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause, 2011, etc.) by dramatizing a shameful episode in the country’s history.