Mignon Ballard, author the delightful Augusta Goodnight series, sets off on a different tack with her new mystery series set in Georgia during WWII.
Told in 1940 charm, spies are everywhere and Elderberry’s grade school boys are on the case – or at least one in particular. Willie Elrod is convinced he saw his former first grade teacher, Miss Dimple Kilpatrick, kidnapped. Why won’t anyone believe him? Not even his pretty fourth grade teacher Miss Charlie Carr?
Charlie’s got enough trouble on her hands trying to explain the school janitor’s untimely death the day Miss Dimple, who taught school for forty years and never missed a day, disappears. Are the two events related? And why aren’t the police doing more to find the missing teacher? Charlie and her third grade teacher friend, Annie, decide to do all they can to help find Dimple. Underneath the intrigue of the missing teacher, Charlie and her widowed mother, Jo, are actively involved in the war effort, with Jo Carr helping on the homefront at the munitions plant. The women put on social events, send packages and visit bereaved families to try to make life a little easier for soldiers away and home on leave. At the town’s Thanksgiving dinner, Annie meets the soldier of her dreams. But what about Annie’s special friend, Will? When Charlie later meets Will, a pilot in training, Charlie feels guilty for having romantic feelings for him, especially since Charlie’s long-time friend has just left for the army and asked her to write to him. Charlie and Annie never dismiss Miss Dimple’s plight, however, and eventually become convinced that Dimple’s engineer brother is the key to her situation.
Miss Dimple is not a helpless captive. Her attempts to plant clues for her would-be rescuers are quaint, brilliant and tender. Her love of community is well-defined by her attempts to draw the attention of the people she knows so well.
Mignon Ballard has created a wonderful little slice of Americana during a terrible era. Never mincing sentiment, she showcases all the sorrows and joys of the time with true-to-era lifestyle and lingo. A sweet read.
Lisa Lickel, author of Meander Scar: a story of finding home