I’ll admit when I sat as a child at that small green-painted table in Miss Dimple Kilpatrick’s first grade classroom, I never in a million years would’ve thought the two of us would end up teaching together at Elderberry, Georgia, Grammar School! Why, the fact that she even went to the bathroom like an ordinary human kind of took me by surprise. It was obvious, however, that she cared about her students, although we knew from day one her word was law. Nosiree, you didn’t mess with Miss Dimple Kilpatrick!
Known for her early morning walks through the streets of town, Miss Dimple collects unsightly litter with the point of the large umbrella she routinely carries, and can be easily be identified by her purple ensemble. Winter or summer her wardrobe never varies from that color. Rumor has it that a sweetheart who died in the Spanish American war favored her in purple, although she never mentions his name.
Now World War II is well into its second year, and my college roommate Annie Gardner and I are midway into our second year of teaching with Miss Dimple. And let me tell you, she is not your typical mild, retiring stereotype of a spinster. In fact, we sometimes find it difficult keeping up with her. Last year she had the whole town in an uproar when she was kidnapped in a scheme to aid the enemy and disappeared for several weeks. Naturally, the villains who held her prisoner had no idea who they were dealing with! With her own clever maneuvers and a little help on the side, she managed to protect her country and herself and see that justice was done.
It seems she barely managed to catch her breath when Miss Dimple found herself doing battle with foul play again when a mysterious skeleton turns up in a cotton field; a friend is shot during a War Bond Rally, and someone absconds with the proceeds. Well… the rest of us were ready for a break after helping Miss Dimple solve that one. Surely she’d be ready to put her feet up and relax – for a short time, at least.
Just when I thought we might be able to enjoy a peaceful Christmas season – at least as peaceful as one can expect on the home front during war times – Miss Dimple Kilpatrick again involves us in the most frightening adventure of all. It all started when one of her students, six-year-old Peggy Ashcroft, goes missing on one of the coldest nights of the year, and Miss Dimple, determined to find her, discovers herself alone on a dark wooded hillside, led only by the distant sound of a barking dog. Luckily, she stumbles upon the remote cabin of a reclusive artist and her Asian companion, and it would be comfy-cozy if things end happily right there.
Well, they don’t, of course. A murder follows, and guess who becomes involved in a cover-up conspiracy that makes me cringe to think of it? Not just Miss Dimple and me, Charlie Carr, but Annie, and Miss Dimple’s librarian friend, Virginia, as well. Christmas is supposed to be a time of cheer, not fear, but none of us stopped to think of that when we were swept along with her plan to expose a killer and do the right thing.
As I’ve said, you just don’t challenge Miss Dimple Kilpatrick, but I draw the line at eating her unappetizing Victory Muffins, which she claims make you healthy, patriotic, and regular. I’m sure they would qualify as fortification in bunkers in event of an air attack, but I’m not brave enough to suggest it.
You can read more about Charlie in MISS DIMPLE SUSPECTS, the third book in the “Miss Dimples” mystery series. The first book in the series is Miss Dimple Disappears.
Meet the author
A native of Calhoun, Georgia, Mignon Ballard earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia, and is the author of seven Augusta Goodnight mysteries and nine previous novels, as well as the script and lyrics of Bandstand Tales, a musical history of Fort Mill, SC, where she lives with her husband, Gene.
The first in her new mystery series, MISS DIMPLE DISAPPEARS, set during WWII and featuring Miss Dimple Kilpatrick, long time first grade teacher at Elderberry, GA, Grammar School, was published by St. Martin’s Minotaur in November 2010 and released in trade paper in September 2011. The second in the series, MISS DIMPLE RALLIES TO THE CAUSE, was published last Dec. and the third, MISS DIMPLE SUSPECTS, is due for publication in January. She has also published THE CHRISTMAS COTTAGE, an inspirational fantasy for “grownups who still believe in magic.”Many of her books are on Kindle and you can find her web site at www.mignonballard.com or on Facebook
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.