Monday, March 5, 2018

The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover- HFVBT Book Review and Giveaway

The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover by Susan Wittig Albert

Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Presevero Press
Hardcover; ISBN-13: 978-0996904032
eBook; ISBN 978-0-9969040-5-6

Series: The Darling Dahlias, Book 7
Genre: Historical Mystery

Publisher's Summary 

NYT bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert returns to Depression-era Darling, Alabama…​where the ladies of the Dahliasthe local garden club, are happy to dig a little dirt!
In the seventh book of this popular series, it looks like the music has ended for Darling’s favorite barbershop uiquartet, the Lucky Four Clovers—just days before theDixie Regional Barbershop Competition. Another unlucky break: a serious foul-up in Darling’s telephone system—and not a penny for repairs. And while liquor is legal again, moonshine isn’t. Sheriff Buddy Norris needs a little luck when he goes into Briar Swamp to confront Cypress County’s most notorious bootlegger. What he finds upends his sense of justice.

Once again, Susan Wittig Albert has told a charming story filled with richly human characters who face the Great Depression with courage and grace. She reminds us that friends offer the best of themselves to each other, community is what holds us together, and luck is what you make it.
Bonus features: Liz Lacy’s Garden Gate column on “lucky” plants, plus the Dahlias’ collection of traditional Southern pie recipes and a dash of cookery history

Reading group questions, more recipes, and Depression-era info at

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound


I'm a sucker for anything written about the South...especially Mississippi and Alabama.  
Throw in a ladies' group, a mystery, some history, and a comforting series, and I'm all yours.
**marked in red above are the aspects of this story that made me say yes to reading it.

First Impressions

I was a little worried at first because The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover is the 7th book in the "Darling Dahlias" series.  I've read a lot of series in the past.  Sometimes I need to start from the beginning and sometimes not.  It just depends.
I did appreciate the Susan Wittig's "Club Roster" at the beginning of the book and letter to the reader to help me make a few necessary connections and most importantly, a quick place to look back to later in the story if I was confused about characters.  

Golden Lines

Yes, it was all very old fashioned and staid and decorous.  But it seemed to Lizzy to represent what people were seeking when they climbed the stairs: if not justice, then something close to it, something established, reliable, constant, and trustworthy.  (47)

Can't somebody have a talk with Mr. Whitworth?  He needs to know he's a stumbling block in the path of Darling's progress. (69)

Darling was behind the times, for nearby Monroeville had real post-office boxes with brass-plated doors and little glass windows and combination locks, so you didn't have to ask the postmaster for your mail.  Lizzy's mailman (a pleasant fellow named Tootie Blue) carried the mail in a big leather shoulder bag and delivered hers right to the door.  (112)

The woman seated in the chair on the other side of Lizzy's desk was wearing a plain cotton housedress and no gloves, and her going-to-town straw hat was trimmed with a wilted-looking red crepe paper rose. (174)

Once it was all in the blackpot, the mash was left to ferment, with an occasional stir.  Then a fire was lit under it and the mash was boiled, releasing the alcohol in the form of steam.  The steam was run through a coil of copper pipe (the worm) in a vat or box of cold water, cooling it into a liquid.  At its most potent, what came out of the worm was 150 proof - 75 percent alcohol, with a knife-edged, explosive jolt.  White lightning.  White dog.  Tiger spit. Hooch. (194)

My Perspective

As I mentioned before I have been a big series reader in the past, but lately have not been in the least bit interested in starting another. 
Y'all, I'm interested. 
While the gardening "stuff" and the clover theme of this particular story didn't necessarily grab me, the Darling community got me hook, line, and sinker. 
Oh those slow days.  
The days when everybody knew everybody from birth to death.
Days when the simplest aspects of life were celebrated...with pie :)

While the mystery was well-written...and the murderer out of the blue...never saw that coming...I felt compelled to wonder what's next.  The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover almost feels like just a there's more to this mystery that might be worked out further in the next installment.  I also may or may not have missed the conclusion of the $50 a month mystery?

I left the Dahlias story wanting to get to know them more and disappointed that when I curl up with a book tonight, I won't be getting caught up in Darling, Alabama.

Cast of Characters and Tidbits I Can't Wait to Read more about...
Whitney Whitworth
Ophelia - the female reporter
Charlie Dickens - editor The Dispatch
Mr. Mosely and Lizzy, his secretary, the aspiring writer
Grady - Lizzy's ex whose wife just died...their history and maybe future?
Beulah's beauty shop - reminded me of Steel Magnolias
Champaign's Darling Chapeaux - Charlie's wife's hat business (Fannie) - love a small town girl makes it big story.
Sheriff Buddy Norris
DessaRae, Sally-Lou, and Fremon
Regina Whitworth and her driving instructor
bootlegger Bodeen Pyle
ordering from Sears and Roebuck catalogue
"chipped chocolate cookies" - I love this kind of trivia when built into a story just right. 
Betty Crocker radio program - what the what?  
Deputy Wayne's cat - The Beast

The Google Factor (I'm a nerd)

bullet fingerprints
FDR social security
Black Monday, 1929
The CCC Camp
Huey P. Long
Babcock cylinder press
Miles proofing press
Kellogg Switchboard Company 
Alabama State Prison Farm - 
Woolworth's - Frank Woolworth
Five & Dime
FDR's right-hand-man, Harry Hopkins
the WPA - the Works Progress Administration
Publishing industry during The Depression
the switchboard

The Author

Susan Wittig Albert 
is the NYT bestselling author of over 100 books. Her work includes four mystery series: China Bayles, the Darling Dahliasthe Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the Robin Paige Victorian mysteries. She has published three award-winning historical novels, as well as YA fiction, memoirs, and nonfiction. Susan currently serves as an editor of StoryCircleBookReviews and helps to coordinate SCN’s online class program. She and her husband Bill live in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes, gardens, and raises a varying assortment of barnyard creatures.

For more information please visit Susan Wittig Albert’s website

You can also find Susan on FacebookTwitterGoodreadsGoogle+Instagram, and Pinterest.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, February 28

Thursday, March 1
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 2
Review at Trisha Jenn Reads

Saturday, March 3
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Monday, March 5
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.

Tuesday, March 6
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, March 7

Thursday, March 8
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, March 12

Tuesday, March 13
Review at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, March 14
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, March 15
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Friday, March 16
Interview at Donna’s Book Blog

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