SMALL TOWN/SOFT-BOILED MYSTERY
DEADLY SINS DEADLY SECRETS, the second installment of Sylvia Dickey Smith’s Sidra Smart series, is a tale of how small town secrets and small-minded attitudes seldom mix with pleasant results.
Sid is desperately trying to keep the private investigation business she inherited from her brother open while living in a ghost active house with her overly-involved aunt and her overly-indulged feline, as well as a dog Sid saved from going to the pound when his owner died. Sid’s love life and her professional life seem to be at odds with one another and with her past as the wife of a Baptist minister. To add another helping onto her already full plate, Sid is hired by a “tobacco-spitting, chair-rocking old codger more interested in the shine on his shoes than the dust on his furniture” to clear his dead son’s name after he was accused of a double murder. After all, just because he happened to have been spotted at the scene around the time of the crime and just because his fingerprints were on the murder weapon does not automatically mean he was guilty of the crime. But try convincing the local sheriff of that—especially when the prime suspect is no longer able to mount a defense to the charges.
Sid must trudge deep into the swamp and even deeper into the past in order to solve this case. As if that isn’t bad enough, her preacher ex-husband shows up in the middle of her date with a new man and the ghost who haunts her aunt’s house refuses to allow Sid a good night’s rest. This ghost is a long dead relative of her new client and former owner of that same house. Scrappy Kate, as she was known in life, has vital information for Sid about the present, her new case and the people involved in it.
Sylvia Dickey Smith is a master storyteller who weaves a tale tighter than a hangman’s noose. Her characters resonate with a down-home true feeling found in small towns all across America. They come alive on the page. This is a book I could not put down and highly recommend.
In her first novel, DANCE ON HIS GRAVE, Sylvia Dickey Smith introduced Sidra Smart, a woman brave enough to step out of an inhibitive marriage and begin a new life. When she divorced her possessive, controlling Baptist minister husband, Sid had no idea what she was stepping into. First, she inherited a private investigation agency from her late brother along with a leftover case involving an old murder. Next, she discovered within herself a person she did not know existed, a person unable to ignore injustice or turn away people desperately needing help, even if it meant placing her own life in danger.
In DEADLY SINS – DEADLY SECRETS, Sid continues her journey toward personal self-discovery, supported once again by her somewhat eccentric and lovable Aunt Annie and a crusty veteran PI willing to teach her the tricks of the trade, but who also enjoys her stumbling attempts to learn the hard way. In this, her second case as a PI, Sid is drawn into a situation wherein shrouded secrets of the past must be revealed to solve grisly murders of the present. Her digging for the truth extends as far back as Civil War days in the small East Texas town where the story is set when she discovers the diary of a fascinating and feisty woman who seems to be nudging Sid in the right direction.
Sid’s resolve to prove a man innocent of murder in spite of staggering evidence against him leads her through attempts on her life, butting heads with powerful people equally determined to keep old secrets hidden, and a romantic involvement she tried hard to avoid.
Sylvia Dickey Smith is a talented author who, in this second novel as successfully as in her first, seamlessly weaves the story of a woman determined to become the person she left behind years ago with an engrossing tale of murder, deceit and suspense.
Earl Staggs, DorothyL