A game of bridge holds the clue to murder.
For years the Gin Girls, led by Liddie Langston Rose, have held sway over the social scene in Rosalie, Mississippi. Bethany Morrissey and Sicily Groves, Liddie’s partners in crime since they were young girls, were both kicked out of Ole Miss for gin-fueled pranks, leaving Liddie and Hanna Lewis to graduate and marry wealthy men. The bridge buddies get together at Liddie’s home to practice for a tournament after a few drinks and a delicious lunch prepared by Merleece Maxique, Liddie’s longtime cook and maid. Merleece is in the kitchen suffering the attentions of Arden Wilson, the young gardener with whom she’s never gotten along. After serving coffee, she returns to the kitchen, and that’s where she is when Liddie’s frantic bell-ringing brings the bickering pair back to discover all the ladies in the throes of convulsions, followed by death. Wendy Winchester, an ambitious journalist tired of writing the social column for the Rosalie Citizen, sees in the bizarre murders a chance to improve her position. Since her father’s the police chief and her boyfriend, Ross Rierson, the detective assigned to the case, she and her editor both hope she’ll pick up some inside information when she interviews the deceased ladies’ relatives for a story about their lives. Wendy gets help from Merleece, who’s known her for years. As the person who served what turned out to be cyanide in the sugar bowl, Merleece knows she’s the prime suspect even though she believes that Arden, who uses cyanide to kill butterflies, is the guilty party. When the smarmy district attorney, presumably inflamed by racial prejudice, arrests Merleece, Wendy, setting out to prove her innocent, unearths a host of secrets that put her in danger.
A compulsively readable series debut, dripping in Southern charm, for a clever sleuth whose bridge skills break the case.