Cover image for The PMS outlaws : an Elizabeth MacPherson novel
The PMS outlaws : an Elizabeth MacPherson novel
McCrumb, Sharyn, 1948-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
295 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Grand Island Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Kenmore Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Anna M. Reinstein Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Audubon Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb, internationally acclaimed for the "quiet fire"* of her Appalachian Ballad novels, clearly has a dark side--a wicked, sardonic wit that has prompted critics to compare her to Jane Austen and Jonathan Swift. Readers and reviewers alike also have lauded Ms. McCrumb for her inspired chronicles of forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson. In her newest tale in the MacPherson saga, McCrumb examines society's fascination with beauty--and the deceptiveness of outer appearances. Elizabeth herself, hospitalized for depression over her missing husband, learns that insanity liberates one from polite hypocrisy, enabling a "crazy lady" to remark: "Anorexia is not a disease; it's a career move." Out in the real world, Elizabeth's brother Bill has bought a stately old mansion to use as his law office, only to find that the house comes with a charming codger-in-residence who is far too old to be a dangerous outlaw. . . isn't he? Meanwhile, the steel magnolia who is Bill's law partner is trying to track down the PMS Outlaws--an escaped convict and her fugitive attorney--who are cruising pickup joints and wreaking a peculiar vengeance on lust-crazed men. Sharyn McCrumb's incisive wit and her genius for mirroring everyday life are once again on full display. The PMS Outlaws is an outrageous parable of modern mores, where beauty is the weapon, and nobody is safe. *The New York Times Book Review

Author Notes

Sharyn McCrumb was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on February 26, 1948. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received an M.A. in English from Virginia Tech. Her novels include the Elizabeth MacPherson series and the Ballad series. St. Dale won a 2006 Library of Virginia Award and the Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award. Ghost Riders won the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature and the Audie Award for Best Recorded Book. She has received numerous awards for her work including the Sherwood Anderson Short Story Award, the Perry F. Kendig Award for Achievement in Literary Arts, the Chaffin Award for Southern Literature, and the Plattner Award for Short Story. In 2014, she received the Mary Frances Hobson Prize for Southern Literature by North Carolina's Chowan University.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Elizabeth MacPherson, the forensic anthropologist and amateur sleuth who, in eight previous mysteries, has pieced together puzzles using her skills in analyzing bones and human nature, has been hospitalized for depression following the disappearance of her husband in the North Sea. How she is going to climb out of depression's depths forms the central mystery here. How her brother's feisty law partner, A. P. Hill, is going to stop the PMS Outlaws, two women who delight in tricking men out of their clothes and wallets, forms another mystery. The greatest mystery, however, is how McCrumb manages to inject humor and incisive social commentary throughout--not just in the PMS Outlaws' gender-rage rampage through Appalachia but also into the goings-on at the Cherry Hill Psychiatric Hospital. Along with the humor, she expertly weaves the theme of beauty as social currency through the stopped lives of the women and men at Cherry Hill and through the frenzied revenge of the PMS Outlaws. Her characters have breadth and believability, providing fresh and furious insights on this wacky road trip. The Edgar-winning McCrumb is in top form here. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

This mild-mannered mystery, number nine in the Elizabeth MacPherson series from versatile writer McCrumb (Bimboes of the Death Sun; If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him), is a humorous, fast-paced story. When we join MacPherson, she has just checked into the Cherry Hill Psychiatric Hospital to deal with depression brought on by the death of her husband. Meanwhile, struggling Virginia lawyer Bill MacPherson, Elizabeth's brother, has purchased an old mansion for his law firm's upscale office. The mansion comes with a catch: the elderly man who originally built the house (with apparently dubious funds) is still living on the sun porch. As Bill works out the real estate deal, his law partner, A.P. Powell, disappears to chase clues about the newly infamous PMS Outlaws, who have been stealing money from men and leaving them handcuffed in compromising positions. While the novel's many eccentric characters never fail to entertain, the mystery of the old man is little more than a distraction, both for the reader and for Elizabeth. As for the PMS Outlaws, they are completely transparent in their motivations: they want to get money and cut men down to size. What keeps the pages turning is the desire to see Elizabeth and Powell find their way out of their obsessions and back to their respective lives. McCrumb's gift is for making us care whether they do. Mystery Guild main selection; 6-city author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson (MacPherson's Lament, Missing Susan), who has voluntarily committed herself to a mental hospital following the disappearance of her husband at sea, returns in McCrumb's new mystery. Elizabeth discovers that one of her fellow mental patients has some criminal connection to the aged resident of the building that her lawyer brother has just bought. (First implausibility: would a lawyer buy an office building that had an elderly man living on the back porch?) The brother's uptight law partner is being stalked, for no apparent reason, by the title characters, an acquaintance from Elizabeth's law school days and the client she has sprung from prison. The two women casually cruise bars around the South while on their way to freedom in Canada, robbing men and leaving them hog-tied in embarrassing situations. (Second implausibility: why aren't they in a rush to get to Canada?) The outlaw plot line and the elderly criminals' plot line eventually come close to converging in an unfulfilling and anticlimactic ending in which the PMS Outlaws don't actually make an appearance. The none-too-exciting denouement is revealed only in conversation by the other characters. Recommended only for libraries with all-inclusive mystery collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/00.]DLisa Bier, Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Ctr., CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



If he stayed chained naked to this post much longer, there just wouldn't be any afterward to the foreplay. Randy Templeton shivered in the soft darkness, wondering whether the girls would think him ungrateful if he called out to hurry them along. It was damp and nearly dark in the basement of the Lonesome Rose Bar, but mostly it was cold. People could say what they wanted to about extra body fat; the spare tire around his middle wasn't doing a thing to keep him warm. He hated to think what shape he'd be in without it. Whoever had air-conditioned the roadhouse had made a pitiful job of it, too. The barroom itself was hotter than a hubcap in August, while down here beneath, it felt like penguin heaven. If it weren't so dark, he could probably see his breath. He wondered if the girls would mind the cold. He could suggest someplace more comfortable, but he didn't want to ruin the spontaneity of the occasion. Besides, he wasn't sure that motels in his price range took postdated checks. Randy hoped there weren't any rats around. He had seen a horror movie once where a guy was chained in a dungeon someplace, and rats had come out and started gnawing on his toes. Just thinking about it made him shiver even more than he already had been. He'd never hear rats over the thump of the jukebox from above. At least he had kept his boots on. He wriggled his wrists in the handcuffs, thinking they must be trick cuffs from a store that specialized in magic items and practical jokes, but the steel bands remained firmly shut, yielding no hidden catch. His fingers were beginning to feel numb. Real handcuffs . . . his mind shied away from any more speculation on this point. What with the cold and all, he was having a hard enough time maintaining the mood without going into philosophical suppositions about sexy and gorgeous chicks who carried regulation handcuffs. Where were those two girls, anyhow? They said they'd gone off to slip into something leather and scanty, but he didn't hear any giggles around the corner. The jukebox again, probably. Its base notes were rolling across the floor above him in a tidal wave of noise. What were those girls' names again? He couldn't quite remember. Maybe he should just stick to calling them "Honey" and "Darlin' "--women were so touchy about things like proper names. He didn't want to spoil the evening, which was the most exciting thing that had happened to him since he'd got one of the lucky bottle caps in the drink machine at the plant and won a hundred bucks just in time to make a car payment. He couldn't believe his luck this time. He'd stopped in at the roadhouse after work for a quick one (by which he meant a drink), and before he could say "Colorado Kool-Aid" (by which he meant Coors), two good-looking women in jean shorts and halter tops had come up to him, one on each side, smiling up at him, until he began to wonder who they had mistaken him for. People did say he looked a little like Randy Travis in the right light--if he sucked in his gut and combed his hair forward over his bald spot. He thought the game would be up when he told them his name. He said, "I'm Randy . . ." and for a few seconds he thought about saying, ". . . Travis," but nervousness impaired his fluency in lying, and he had blurted out "Templeton," the only word in his otherwise empty brain. They just kept smiling, as if they weren't disappointed at all. Then they started making small talk, only instead of yelling loud enough to be heard over the music, they had whispered up close in his ear, until their tongues almost touched his earlobes. It warmed him up just thinking about it. He had made a few gallant remarks about how the two of them were prettier than-- . . . something or other. . . . He couldn't quite remember what he had said, but it must have been good, because they had smiled knowingly at him and edged in even closer. But there were two of them. One part of his mind kept waiting for them to ask him if he had a friend, while his remaining brain cells tried to choose which one he wanted and then decide how to get her away from her companion. One of them was a wiry-looking blonde who looked like she played softball or rode horses--a real tomboy; the other one was a top-heavy Miss America type, just shy of being plump, but with the few extra pounds distributed in some wonderful places. What were their names? They were pretty all right, but they weren't the usual sort of girl that you saw in the Lonesome Rose. They talked like schoolteachers, now that he thought about it: all carefully pronounced words, with proper English as far as he could tell, and not much drawl in their voices. Maybe they were schoolteachers. Maybe those X-rated skin flicks he checked out from the Video Mart & Tanning Parlor, with titles like Lessons in Lust and Sex Ed at Honey High , were documentaries. At that point in the conversation, Randy had been thinking that he could star in a skin flick called Horny Zombie in Deep Shock , when those two gorgeous creatures made it clear that he didn't have to choose between them. He could have them both. They worked as a team, they said. Well, hot damn. Excerpted from The PMS Outlaws by Sharyn McCrumb 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.

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