Gothic trappings hang as heavy over Biggie Weatherford’s latest outing as the Spanish moss Butch the florist uses for funeral arrangements. The grande dame of Job’s Crossing, her 12-year-old grandson J.R., her household mainstays Rosebud and Willie Mae, and the Job’s Crossing Historical Society set out for the town of Quincy to take a local history seminar conducted by the Quincy Historical Society. Biggie (Biggie and the Meddlesome Mailman, 1999, etc.) promises a reluctant J.R. that a “genu-wine” ghost haunts the hotel. Ghost or not, a corpse soon appears: Annabeth Baugh, a beautiful hotel employee from a poor “swamp” family, found floating in a fountain with a knife in her chest. Then appendicitis lays up Sheriff Dugger, who, already lumbered with a deputy several notches below Barney Fife, asks Biggie to help. She starts by investigating Annabeth’s beau, Brian Quincy, and his relatives in the town’s founding family. Brian’s mother Mary Ann, a hotel manager, is being ardently pursued by traveling coffin-salesman Lew Masters. Young Emily Faye LaRue, the Quincy Historical Society secretary who pines after Brian, has a reputation worse than her handwriting. But Quincy’s present romances are dominated by Quincy’s past, as J.R. reveals when he discovers an ancient clue in spry old Lawyer Fitzgerald’s museum. Biggie mulls it all over while the more active J.R. chases ghosts through the hotel and gets thrown to the alligators.
A little social work, a little shopping, and a little shaking of Quincy family trees, all wound up with Biggie’s folksy charm. Those without a taste for Gothic Lite, however, may want to pass.