Bonefire of the Vanities by Caroline Haines is the 12th book in the “Sarah Booth Delaney” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur Books, June 2012

Despite the wishes of her overprotective fiancé, Sarah Booth Delaney can’t give up her detective work, no matter how dangerous it becomes. It’s too much a part of her. On this case, avoiding danger might be impossible—she’s on the trail of a porn-star-turned-psychic operating from a haunted estate on the edge of town. Medium Sherry Cameron promises to reunite grieving family members with their dearly departed, but it seems vaguely suspicious that Sherry will only accept emotionally vulnerable and tremendously wealthy clients. Aging billionaire Marjorie Littlefield fits the profile perfectly—her daughter died in a tragic accident as a young girl, she’s been estranged from her son for decades, and she’s planning to leave her considerable inheritance to her cat.

Convinced she’s uncovered a scheme to separate a lonely woman from her fortune, Sarah Booth talks her way onto the estate as a maid, where she finds Marjorie and several other wealthy eccentrics ready to commune with the dead. Between chores, Sarah Booth explores the estate, mingles with the other staff…and finds a few dead bodies. But which guest or staff member might be the killer? Even Jitty, Sarah Booth’s personal haint, won’t tell until Sarah Booth has uncovered all of Sherry’s well-kept secrets.

With spooks and charlatans around every corner, Sarah Booth is the only PI in the southlands who can put an end to this elaborate scam in Bonefire of the Vanities, the charming twelfth entry in Carolyn Haines’s sparkling series.

Every time Sarah Booth and Tinkie take on a case that is as easy as pie, it turns into something much bigger. They agree to go undercover as maid to help a woman who has mourned the death of her daughter oh so long ago. Con artists or the real thing…that is what they both hope to find in their investigation. When murder crosses their path, their case turns deadly.

I love this series. This book oozes southern charm on every page in the evenly paced and well-written mystery. The butler, the chef, the owners and the guests all played a role of hide and seek and I enjoyed the chase to the end in identifying the killer. Meeting Mrs. Littlefield and Pluto was an added bonus that rounded out the supporting appearances of Oscar and Graf who were most helpful in navigating the clues to bring resolution to this case. This was a great read and I look forward to the next book in this charismatic and enjoyable series.

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