The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover
The Darling Dahlias #7
Susan Wittig Albert
Persevero Press, March 2018
ISBN 978-0-9969040-3-2

From the publisher—

It looks like the music has ended for Darling’s favorite barbershop quartet, the Lucky Four Clovers—just days before the Dixie 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.

Darling, Alabama, is home during the Great Depression to the Dahlias Garden Club, ladies who solve local crimes almost as much as they garden and socialize. The latest town problem is that the telephone system is suffering from equipment failures because half-owner Whitney Whitforth won’t pony up to fix it and then the Lucky Four Clovers barbershop quartet go into crisis mode when one of the members is killed before the Regional Barbershop Competition.

Was it an accident or murder? Sheriff Buddy Norris is determined to figure it out, with a little help from Ophelia Snow, Elizabeth Lacy and the other Dahlias, and they soon find a possible link to the local bootlegger, Bodeen Pyle. When Whitney goes missing, the plot thickens but the Dahlias are up for the challenge.

Added touches such as Liz Lacy’s Garden Gate newspaper column, town gossip and a look into how people managed when money was hard to get, along with a good puzzle help make this return to a charming series a welcome treat. A taste of class distinctions and the place women held in the Depression-era South make it even better and, best of all, a cast of garden club characters is included, and there are recipes. What more could any cozy mystery reader want?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2018.
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Quirky characters, mystery set in the 1930's, bootlegging, Barbershop Quartet and of course, murder are all included in this 7th book in the series. This is the first I've read in this series, however, I never felt lost.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
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What a joy to read. I was born in 1950 and parents in the late 1920s . Reading this book brought back so many memories, songs that mom used to sing in the house, Sears and Robucks and clothes that weren't expensive. The murder kept me guessing. I've told people my age about this book and they looked enthusiastic about it. All in all it was a swell boom and I'll be buying the rest of the series.
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Albert returns to the 1930s in her latest Darling Dahlias novel, who are investigating the disappearance of a member of the local barbershop quartet. This was a delightful installment, combining the mystery with the everyday lives of a small town during the depression.
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A quick pleasant read that is sure to distract. This one is delightful and easy to follow even when one has not read the previous books in the series. Well written but lots of characters and I am sure that it would be more enjoyable for those who have read the whole series. 
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book.
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The Darling Dahlias series takes place in Darling, Alabama during the Great Depression.  In this latest book it is 1937 and the country is counting on FDR’s plans to end the recession.  Meanwhile the Dahlias, who are members of the local garden club, provide help and support when and where it’s needed.  In The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover a tragedy has struck Darling.  A member of the barbershop quartet has disappeared.  When his car is found at the bottom of a drop-off everyone assumes it was a horrible accident.  
This series truly has an ensemble cast but the author does an exceptional job identifying and reminding the reader who the various characters are. They are colorful and resourceful and there are many to choose from.  One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed is the historical tidbits that are included, such as background on the inception and purpose of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) and the creation of the chocolate chip cookie recipe (originally called Chocolate Crunch Cookie).  

With that said, I have several concerns about this book.  There are many characters that come and go throughout the story.  It’s difficult for the reader to become very attached to any of them, since many only appear briefly.  While it does add color and dimension to the story, it also leaves several story lines without resolution.  I have read quite a few of Susan Wittig Albert’s books and this is the first time I’ve encountered this type of problem and to this extent.  And, for me, it is a problem.  While I enjoy mystery series in general, I do not enjoy a story that fails to resolve, at the very least, the main issue.  It really doesn’t seem quite fair to the reader.  Until that final chapter I was very pleased with the book, the writing and the progression of the story.  However, the rating I am giving this book reflects my disappointment in the final chapter.
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I have read many of Susan Wittig Albert's series but this is the first in the Darling Dahlias series for me.  It is set in the south during the 1930's and is reminisce of the typical small Alabama town. 4 ladies call themselves the Darling Dahlias and try to make sure everyone on town has plenty to eat and local projects get done. And of course they love to gossip.  The local barber shop quartet known as the Four Clovers are preparing for a regional competition and all of a sudden they are two men short. One sick and one dead.  A good detective story with unusual sleuths.  I received a copy of the ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I really enjoy this series; the characters are so very real and should you live in a small town [like I do], you can find variations of these characters all over. Therefore, when one of them does something COMPLETELY STUPID, it makes you just want to yell and harumph at them [which I may or may not have done when this happened in this book - no, I will not tell you, you will have to find out on your own]. Sigh. It was the only part of the book that felt...false? that the word I am looking for? I just am unsure that after all this character has been through, that they would behave this way. But perhaps I am wrong. 

 You once again get to see Buddy in action and much more of his deputy Wayne. There IS a murder in this one....or is there? The ending leaves it very open for another book and in a way, that annoys me. I am not a big fan of the "cliffhanger" and while this isn't exactly that per say, it does leave it very opened ended. 

This story was very close to my heart because my family has long been involved and in love with the Barbershop Quartet. My Grandfather and his brother sang, my Dad sang, a close family friend sang with my Dad and on and on. There used to be a big show every year near us and I used to wait in pins and needles waiting for that night. I wish there had been more about that in the book, but was glad that they used that format at all. It is a dying art form. 

Those who have read the previous books will be happy with this story - it was very very good and I look forward to the next installment.
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I love this historical mystery placed in early 1930's in a fictional small town in Southern Alabama.  The Dahlias are a group of friends committed to their community, their friends and families.  This is a fun trip back to a simpler time in life .  The Southern culture and recipes here are wonderful. 
It's 1934 in the small town of Darling, Alabama and The Darling Dahlias Garden Club members have a strong sense of community  and work hard for their town.  But some things have gone wrong that may not be easy for the Dahlias to solve.
 The town is recovering from the great depression and as things are looking up many problems arise in the town that take the Dahlias attention from their gardening.  Then a murder occurs which shocks the community to its core and the Dahlias are on the case. They prove once again to be able sleuths and soon have a plethora of suspects and clues. 
The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover is the seventh book in the Darling Dahlias series, This can be read as a stand alone. I highly recommend this series. 
Thank you for the advance reading copy which did not influence my review.
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Another winner. I love this author and her books never disappoint me.
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I'm sorry. Just could not finish this book. Bored me. I just could not get interested and involved.
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The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover is an enjoyable cozy, historical mystery with a strong sense of place (the American South during the Great Depression), but I found there was less focus on the Dahlias and a lot of loose ends compared to previous books. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.
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After reading a couple of other books by Susan Wittig Albert (A Wilder Rose, Loving Eleanor and The General's Women) was I curious about her works. So, I was thrilled when I the chance to read The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover, book seven in The Darling Dahlias series.

As a new reader to this series can I conclude that I besotted in this series. Yes, utterly charmed and in need of the previous books. From the very first page was I intrigued by the story and engrossed in the mystery of one the missing man, a member of the Lucky Four Clover quartet. To be honest, I would have read this book without the mystery, I was so charmed by all the characters, their lives in the little town during the depression with bootleggers and a struggling telephone system. And then we have The Darling Dahlias, the garden club, the heart of this book and their digging into the mystery of the missing man and what happened to him.

I found that Susan Wittig Albert has really captured the 30s. The book is atmospheric and the characters are, despite being new to me, easy to remember and I found myself quite enjoying their everyday plight with money and relationship problems. The 30s is such a fascinating period and it's interesting to read about ordinary people's lives in a little town during the depression. Of course, with the addition of some mysterious events.
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This story shares great history with a light mystery.

Liz Lacy, one of the Dahlia Darlings, is the part time secretary to a lawyer. They have gotten a call from a local woman whose husband has gone missing. A day later the wrecked car and body are found. The deputy and sheriff realize quickly that what may look like an accident was something more sinister. Now they have to figure out why and who considering the deceased had several people in town unhappy with his business dealings.

While Liz talks to town folk trying to unravel the mystery from the view of her office, the author shares a wealth of details regarding the lifestyle in 1934. There are descriptions of cars, clothing, switchboard telephone system with party lines, old time newspaper with Linotype, and lots of pies including shoofly pie which is one of my favorites. There is also discussion of political issues such as the new deal, repeal of prohibition, Works Programs Administration (WPA) and more.

This is a good cozy mystery with wonderful history. The history made this as much fun to listen to as the mystery. There are also gardening details for garden buffs and yummy pies play a part of the story. After the conclusion there are several pie recipes shared from sources as early as 1837. The writing style flows well for an easy, enjoyable read. I recommend this to cozy mystery fans who would enjoy the nostalgia and history of the 1930s.

I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.
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It's 1934 in the small town of Darling, Alabama and economically things are starting to look a bit better.  The Darling Dahlias Garden Club members have a strong sense of community and support for each other and work hard for their town.  But some things have gone wrong that may not be easy to fix:  the Lucky Four Clovers may have to drop out of the Dixie Regional Barbershop Competition, the telephone system and some businesses in Darling are in dire need of repairs and the limited partner who refuses to chip in any money is missing.

The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover is the seventh book in the Darling Dahlias series, but the first one I have read.  Having read any or all of those books prior to this one would have given me some insight into and backstory on some of the main characters but this story is complete as a stand-alone. The characters and the setting are described in sufficient detail that you don't feel you have missed any significant plot points.  The Dahlias are strong women with multiple roles in their lives.  There are detailed descriptions of the time and the setting and the food and life in general, from telephones to shopping to dating to making moonshine.  It's a trip down memory lane, a glimpse into a world much different - maybe simpler, maybe not - than today's world of fast cars and fast food and social media all around us.

For those that have read previous books in the series I imagine this story moved the lives of the main characters along, and the ending left things open to anticipate the next book.  Thanks for NetGalley for providing an ARC of The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover.
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Everything is going along swimmingly in the small town of Darling, Al.  Though they are still in the throes of the depression, the townsfolk in 1934 Darling have kept their spirit and are making do with what they have, grateful for everything they do have. The town garden ladies, the Darling Dahlias, who make up the bulk of the book’s characters are keeping things moving, planning and preparing for the Dixie Regional Barbershop Competition, involving their own favorite barbershop quartet, the Lucky Four Clovers. Then, a well-known local is found dead. The original conclusion is that there was a horrible accident, resulting in the death, but Sheriff Buddy Norris and his deputy begin to have suspicions that all is not what it seems. The duo, along with a plucky member of the Darling Dahlias, set out to figure out what really went down the night Mr. Whitney Whitworth died.

This book is a nice read that is not too long.  However, I was disappointed with the ending, and the way the author worked a cliff hanger into it at the very end.  I detest cliff hangers and usually subtract one star from my rating, which I am going to do this time. As the book stands, the ending was totally flat. There is very little build-up throughout and no mystery with its built-in discovery of clues, but what there is, right now is a big bunch of red herrings and pictures of depression era daily life. The story is nice, but lacks the oomph that keeps a reader going, wondering where things are going next. I have read the other books by this author in this series as well as in other series, and this one will never be my favorite. In fact, I am finding that many of her books just seem to lack that certain something they once had. The descriptions throughout the book are true to the setting and time and do present a good picture of daily life in the depression era, complete with all its hardships, depravations, hopes and dreams and stark reality, which I found interesting. I just wish it had had more mystery and a better ending. I received this from NetGalley to read and review.
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I had not read anything by this author, so I was pleased that NetGallery offered me the chance to start with this one.  Note that I read an ARC so the published product may vary from what I read.  Thanks to NetGallery, the publisher and author for allowing me to read this in exchange for my honest opinion.

This book is the 7th in the series of Darling Dahlias, but it reads mostly like a stand-alone.  There is a “letter to the users” prologue, followed by a descriptive list of characters, both of which helped ease me into the story without feeling I had to go back to previous books to figure out what is going on.  

The story takes place in the 1930’s, which is an era I don’t often encounter.   The period details and the ambiance of the town feel authentic and welcoming.  I liked the writing style except for a few times when there seemed to be too much needless detail.  For instance, “to fish in the bayous for largemouth or spotted bass, catfish, crappie, pickerel, and sunfish”.   It sort of reads like a catalog from Wiki of what kinds of fish are native to the area instead of adding to the story.  There was an even longer litany in the description of the Five and Ten Cent store contents.  Maybe I’m overly picky.  

Overall, I enjoyed the main mystery, but a second one was introduced late in the storyline and left unresolved at the end.   Presumably, this will be addressed in the next Darling Dahlias book.  I don’t know if I am invested enough in the series to pursue it.  “Teasers” like this at the end of a book usually annoy me and I can’t decide if I am annoyed or let down by this.

On balance, I think I’d probably read more from the author, perhaps even more of this series.
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Alright book, really slow until the investigation picked up. Investigation didn't quite end the book, and feels like we should have clarification on why it happened. Recipes at the end of the book was pretty awesome though.
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I've read another series by this author which I enjoy immensely but this was my first foray into this one and I was very pleased with it.  I love period mysteries and this one didn't disappoint.  Set in the 1930's during the great depression you are introduced to a group of ladies in a gardening club who make the most of life no matter the times.  Follow along as they deal with one piece of bad news after another.  Even though times are hard they always find a way.  This was a truly fun read, it was great to see how a mystery could be solved in a time without cellphones, and the internet.  I loved the southern setting and the sayings, being from the south I always get excited when hearing another person perspective of it.  I look forward to going back to the beginning and catching up on everyone before the author comes out with another book.  The characters were a treat to get to know.
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Lots of interesting facts about this period of time. Enjoyed the song lyrics. The pie recipes are great. The mystery's conclusion was unsatisfactory. It may be addressed in the next book, but doubt that I read it. This is the only one in this series that I have read. I really enjoyed Susan Wittig Albert's mystery series several years ago. Thought I would give this series a try when it was offered on NetGalley.
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