When I first heard about Murder runs in the family by Anne George, I could well imagine the background: somewhere in the South, a couple of Miss Marples investigate a little crime. While the story is indeed set in the South, nothing else was as I expected - in a good way.
The story unfolds in Alabama, a place that tends to be misunderstood (speaking from a European perspective). Still, I can easily relate to it being Mediterranean: people are often thought of being slow, laid-back, lazy, but also family-oriented (this last being true).
This is the third instalment in the Southern Sisters Mystery series, which follows the lives and adventures of "Mouse" and "Sister", a pair of sisters that have nothing, but absolutely nothing, in common (reminds me of myself with my sister... one more reason to like this book!)
While there is this Agatha Christie-like element in the story, in this case a suicide and a murder, what I really liked was the life-goes-on element as well. The opening describes a wedding taking place: there are family members, professional acquaintances and then plain old strangers all mixed in there, and each and every one plays a tiny but significant role that will lead to the solution of the crime.
Did I know immediately whodunit? No, but then again, neither did the protagonists, as they stumbled upon it by pure chance. This is not a sample of dark and exciting detective story-telling. This is a beautiful description of the real South ("So much for stereotypes. Alabamians read"), where people have beauty around them, where they still dare to eat fast food, drink Coke and enjoy themselves even past their 60s... Now, if a little crime here and there happens, well, this is just to keep the excitement going... with an added bonus: an insight into genealogy, a truly remarkable and interesting domain that George looked into way before it became fashionable in our TVs...
I found this to be a very good book while enjoying the sun - the rhythm is never boring, the balance between serious crime and life enjoyment as it should be, and the end slightly uncomplicated, perfect for a mellow summer ending... To be recommended!
One more reason to absolute love this book: it contains several Southern dishes that highlight the protagonists' way of enjoying life and food, and which I'll try to recreate - post to follow...