Cover image for Murder carries a torch : a Southern sisters mystery
Murder carries a torch : a Southern sisters mystery
George, Anne.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, [2000]

Physical Description:
260 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Siblings couldn't be more opposite than Anne George's hilarious southern sisters. Flamboyant, much-married Mary Alice, with her empress-sized figure and matching libido, is always on the lookout for her next rich husband, while prim, proper, pint-sized former-schoolteacher Patricia Anne is perfectly happy with her one and only, good old Fred. Yet with the sisters' penchant for stumbling upon dead bodies and matching their wits against the killers, this pair has turned solving murders info an uproariously funny partnership.

Murder Carries A Torch

Just back from vacation -- where Patricia Ann spent quality time with her married daughter Holey and Mary Alice spent money on a pair of outrageously sexy hot purple boots -- the sisters are greeted by cousin Pukey Lukey who's in a terrible state. Pukey got his nickname from his childhood addiction to carsickness, but now poor Luke's problem is heartsickness. His wife of forty years, Virginia, has run off with a housepainter/preacher.

Cousin Luke is so miserable the sisters agree to drive to the top of Chandler Mountain in search of Virginia and her newfound man of God. But no sooner do the three start snooping around the deserted grounds when Luke goes into the rundown old church and doesn't come out. Mary Alice and Patricia Anne rush in to investigate, and there's Luke -- on the floor moaning and holding his injured head. Next to him is a pretty young redhead who isn't making a sound. She's dead.

Luke is taken to the hospital; Sheriff Virgil Stuckey is called to investigate; the sisters find out the faithful are into snakehandling -- and the sheriff falls instantly in love With Mary Alice and her purple boots. But all is not heavenly at the Church Of Jesus Is Our Life And Heaven Hereafter. A venomous struggle forsuccessor to the head holy man causes some to suspect the killing is the work of the legendary Chandler Mountain Booger, the region's own version of "Bigfoot." But Mary Alice and Patricia Anne suspect there's a real live murderer on the loose and they have plenty of questions to ask -- including who killed the redhead and bopped Luke, who committed murder-by-snake, how does Luke's still-missing wife fit info the picture -- and who tossed a live rattlesnake into the sisters' very own car?

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The "southern sisters" of Birmingham, Alabama, grow in depth and delight in their latest adventure. Mary Alice, called Sister, is a large figure of a woman: she keeps revising her age downward and now is not much older than Patricia Anne, or Mouse, who is small, feisty, and sixtyish. Sister and Mouse have just returned from Warsaw, where Mouse's newly married daughter is living. Their lugubrious cousin Luke turns up to say his wife of a zillion years has run off with the house painter, and soon the sisters are embroiled in the search for the errant Virginia. The trail leads to a church famed for its snake handlers--the house painter was also a preacher there--and the murder of both the painter-preacher and his lovely daughter-in-law. Sister and Mouse tackle all of this with generous helpings of sororal sniping, loving e-mails from Warsaw, large plates of food, and a keen eye for family foibles. They make great company. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sixtyish sisters Patricia Anne and Mary Alice return for more wacky fun and adventure in their seventh mystery in this popular series from Agatha-winner George. Soon after returning home to Birmingham, Ala., from Christmas in Poland, Patricia Anne and Mary Alice agree to help their cousin Luke track down his wife of 40 years, Virginia, who's run off with a house painter-cum-preacher with the Salinger-esque name of Holden Crawford. They start their search at Crawford's Jesus is Our Life and Heaven Hereafter Church, where someone hits Luke over the head and the two sisters find the neatly laid out body of an unknown woman in a pew. While Luke is in the hospital, the renegade preacher turns up in Virginia's car, dead of a snakebite. Patricia Anne and Mary Alice, aided by the local sheriff, unearth plenty of signs of jealousy, blackmail and adultery as they strive to clear Virginia's name and get to the bottom of her disappearance. Hilarious dialogue and small details (pimento cheese sandwiches?!) enrich a plot that's spread thin over past events and secondary players. Some questions are left unresolved, while othersÄless important to the storyÄare addressed by a person who appears only in the final chapters. Despite a weak ending, the eccentric characters and southern flavor should endear the book to cozy readers. George has written another genuinely funny mystery, and fans will be glad to see many familiar faces from earlier escapades. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Petite Patricia Anne and hefty Mary Alice, series sister-sleuths in their sixties, hasten to the aid of their cousin Luke, whose wife has apparently run off with a painter. They search for the woman and discover a dead body in a "snake-handling" church; much-married Mary Alice meets and flirts with the investigating sheriff; police find the painter dead; and someone "hides" a rattlesnake in Mary Alice's car. Loads of excitement, then, accompanied by sisterly repartee, mostly humorous family complications and narrow escapes; light reading for most collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Murder Carries a Torch Chapter One "I'm telling you, Patricia Anne. Fred kissing the ground like he did was a little too much. Embarrassing." "He slipped." "Slipped, my foot. The man was on his hands and knees patting the concrete, saying, 'Thank God.' It's a wonder everybody didn't fall over him." I glanced around at my sister, Mary Alice, who was standing at my utility room door watching me put clothes in the washing machine. She had on a gray pants suit with a cream-colored turtleneck sweater and had already informed me that she was on her way to a luncheon. I was one of the ones who had nearly fallen over my husband Fred at the airport, but I still felt the need to defend him. "He hates to fly." "Well, I figured that out for myself about an hour out of Birmingham. Every time I spoke to him he growled. Did you hear those noises? Pure growls. And he didn't even chew the peanuts. He trashed them." Mary Alice chomped her teeth together. "Like that. Thank God I wasn't sitting next to him on the Concorde. You've earned your place in heaven living with that man for forty years." She paused. "Why are you spraying Windex around that shirt-sleeve cuff?" "Because I haven't had a chance to go to the store. This works as good as Spray 'n Wash." I put the shirt into the machine, closed the lid, and turned on the warm cycle. "How come you're not jet-lagged like I am?" I asked. "I feel like there's a weight on top of my head." Mary Alice moved from the doorway and I followed her into the kitchen and collapsed onto a chair. "I have more reserves than you do. More stored-up energy. You want some coffee?" I nodded that I did. She got two mugs, poured the coffee, and pushed the sugar toward me. "You see," she explained seriously, "it's simple. I'm slightly larger than you, and that little extra fat gives me more energy. If you would eat normally, you wouldn't be so tired." Little extra fat. Slightly larger. Ha. The woman is sixfeet tall and weighs two hundred fifty pounds. Admits to that. No telling what she really weighs. Especially after hitting every good restaurant in Warsaw, Poland, where we had been for the last two weeks spending Christmas with my newly married daughter Haley. And, believe me, there are some good restaurants there. "You probably lost weight in Warsaw," she continued. "I may have. All that walking." "And not eating." I poured milk into my coffee and watched it swirl around. No way I was going to get into this argument. Mary Alice has never believed that it's genetics that made me a foot shorter than she is and a size six petite. She swears it's lack of nutrition. "I had an E-mail from Haley this morning," I said. "She's missing us." "Well, of course she is. Nobody speaks English in Warsaw. Nobody. And there's not even so much as a Wal-Mart. just all those museums, old as the hills, and you have to ride those rickety streetcars to get anywhere, for heaven's sake." "I thought it was a beautiful city." "Well, you see, that's the difference in you and me, Mouse. I like things to move a little faster." "You mean like interstates?" "And better TV. Their Wheel of Fortune was pitiful." I sighed and let Mary Alice ramble on. Haley was very happy, and she and her new husband, Dr. Philip Nachman, considered it the opportunity of a lifetime to be spending the first few months of their married life in richly cultured Warsaw. "I'll say this, though." Mary Alice took a sip of her coffee. "Nephew seems to be making Haley happy." The "nephew" bit is going to take a little clarification. Mary Alice's second husband was also Philip Nachman. Haley's new husband is his nephew, named for his uncle. So Haley and Philip are Mary Alice's niece and nephew (Philip by marriage). The "nephew" is to keep from confusing him with the original Philip Nachman, dead and buried at Elmwood Cemetery beside Sister's other husbands long ago, but still alive (so she says) in her heart. Certainly in her bank account. Each of her three husbands left her richer than the preceding one. She leaned forward. "Don't you think so?" "What? That Haley's happy? Sure." "It's the Nachman genes." She stirred her coffee. "I almost asked Haley, but I decided not to." "Asked her what?" "Well, my Philip, when we were making love, just before he'd," Sister paused. "Well, he had this unusual thing he'd do." "What?" "He'd stop for a second and say, 'Lord, the saints are marching in.'" She smiled. I thought about this disclosure for a moment. "Somehow I don't think that's genetic, Sister." "Probably not. He did go to Tulane. But every time I hear that song I get misty-eyed. I wanted to have a New Orleans band play it at his funeral, strutting down the path at Elmwood with their umbrellas, but I wasn't sure it was kosher." "I wouldn't think so." Mary Alice looked into her coffee cup thoughtfully. "He was a lovely man, Mouse. Very much in touch with his inner child. No big alpha male hang-up like Fred has." "Alpha males don't kiss the ground when they get home..." Murder Carries a Torch . Copyright © by Anne George. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Murder Carries a Torch by Anne George All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.