Thursday, September 8, 2016

Book Review: Digging Up the Dirt by Miranda James (Southern Ladies Mysteries #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, page turning mystery
Cons: Climax should have been stronger
The Bottom Line:
What grows in garden?
Secrets and mystery that
Entertain, delight

Here’s the Dirt on the Third Southern Ladies Mystery

I’ve been enjoying catching up on the Cat in the Stacks series this year, but it was a pleasure to return to the Southern Ladies Mysteries with Digging up the Dirt.  It’s interesting to get a look at life in Athena from a different point of view, which is just what happened in the third volume in this spin off series.

Both of these series from Miranda James (pen name for Dean James) are set in Athena, Mississippi and prominently feature pets.  This one, however, focuses on An’gel and Dickce Ducote, elderly spinster sisters living in the family estate just outside of town.  They have been pillars of the community for years and are involved in many different clubs and societies.

For example, An’gel and Dickce are both on the board of the garden club, and the entire board is abuzz about the return of Hadley Partridge to Athena.  H was something of a lady’s man when he lived in town forty years ago, and he hasn’t lost his flirtatious ways, much to the delight of most of the women on the board.

However, Hadley’s return has stirred up more than fluttering hearts among the older set.  It also brings to light a long buried secret from forty years ago.  Someone wants that secret to stay buried.  Soon, a skeleton has been unearth and someone else is dead.  What happened forty years ago?  How is it affecting life today?  Can An’gel and Dickce find the answers?

As always with the books from this author, I was pulled in right away.  The conflict starts quickly, and I must confess I was surprised at how early the body dropped.  The pace is perfect, with the next twist or clue popping up all the time.  I had a very hard time putting the book down and devoured it in just a couple of days.  I did feel the climax, while resolving everything, was much weaker than it could have been, but that’s my only complaint with this book.

An’gel and Dickce are a hoot as our main characters.  They are 80-something and have that relationship that comes from living with someone your entire life.  In fact, their sisterly relationship is perfectly captured, and I love watching them interact with each other as much as the rest of the cast.  The book is told from one or the other’s third person point of view, and that narration also adds to the fun.  Of course, their ward Benji is present again as well, and I love how he is growing as a character.  Naturally, we meet some interesting and well developed suspects along the way.

And I can’t leave out the pets.  An’gel and Dickce have adopted a dog, Peanut, and a cat, Endora.  While not in every scene, we get plenty of their antics, and they steal many a scene along the way.

When I read the first two books in the series last year, I hadn’t spent much time reading the Cat in the Stacks mysteries.  I bring that up because if the characters and settings from that series appeared in those earlier books, I missed it because I didn’t know them.  (Well, there were a couple obvious ones that I did catch in book one.)  However, I caught plenty of them this time around.  Many characters from the mother series have cameos here.  No, you don’t need to have read the other series or be up to date on it to enjoy this book, but if you are a fan of both series, the cameos are a fun bonus.

Miranda James continues to bring a small southern town to life with rich characters, page turning mysteries, and adorable animals.  Digging up the Dirt was over all too soon.  Pick it up today and enjoy.

Enjoy more Southern life and murder with the rest of the Southern Ladies Mysteries.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you if you win.  I will pick the winner next Thursday, September 15th, so please leave your comment before 12:01AM Pacific Time on 9/15.  You will have until midnight on 9/20 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 9/21.


  1. I would love to win this! Those southern sisters sound so fun!

  2. I can't wait to read this one Love the Cat in the Stacks series
    afarage (at)

  3. This is the first time I've heard of this series. It sounds delightful! Thanks!

  4. Love this series & can't wait to read this newest entry. Thanks for another great review!

  5. Thanks for the review and the giveaway.
    I have the entire Cat in the Stacks series and books one and two of the Southern Ladies series. I haven't read them yet.

  6. I have the first book as an audiobook. I need to start listening to it! This one sounds wonderful. I adore this cover.

    brookeb811 at

  7. Great series. Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. Love this series.

  9. I love this series and the series with Deisel. I can't wait to read this one.

  10. I love this series and would love to win. Thanks for the giveaway.

  11. I really enjoy this series. Looking forword to this new one gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

  12. I read another book from this author but have yet to read more. This one sounds like a good read and I love a book about long buried secrets! Katherine(dot)e(dot)pitts(at)gmail(dot)com

  13. Wow! Sounds awesome.

  14. Would love to read .
    Sandra Beck

  15. I haven't read this series yet, and I would really enjoy reading "Digging Up the Dirt".


  16. Great review, great series, great giveaway!

  17. I haven't read in this series but it sounds wonderful. Thank you for the chance.

  18. I am behind on this series. It is so much fun. I asked the library to order the newest book. Thanks for the chance at winning it, and for the great review.
    frybbe (@) gmail (dot) com

  19. Love the Cat in the Stacks series! Would love to win this book! Thanks for the review and chance to win!

  20. Love the Cat in the Stacks series! Would love to win this book! Thanks for the review and chance to win!