A Fun Mystery

But Bubba Has Hamlet’s Flaws of Irresolution & Inaction

By Jeff Salter

My review of Bubba And the Dead Woman by C.L. Bevill

Blurb:

Bubba Snoddy is a good old country boy with a big problem. Although he’s personable, handsome, and lives in a historical Southern mansion in a small Texas town, he has just discovered the dead body of a woman to whom he was once engaged to marry. His ex-fiancée was responsible for Bubba being thrown out of the military which in turn caused his shameful return to the tiny town of Pegramville, where everyone is a consummate gossip and no one has any secrets. Sheriff John Headrick believes Bubba killed his ex-fiancée in a fit of vengeful rage. The townsfolk believe that Bubba killed his ex-fiancée in a fit of vengeful rage. Bubba’s own mother believes that Bubba killed his ex-fiancée in a fit of vengeful rage. To top it all off, there are some mighty strange goings-on at the Snoddy Mansion, where ghosts walk the halls rattling chains in the midnight hour, and Bubba’s own sainted mother, Miz Demetrice, runs an illegal gambling ring. Rumors run merrily rampant about Bubba, decadent Snoddy ancestors, missing Civil War gold, a to-die-for sheriff’s deputy with the greenest eyes Bubba’s ever seen, and a Basset Hound named Precious who likes to nip first and ask questions later. Bubba has to find out exactly who did murder his ex-fiancée and quickly before he goes to jail for the crime, or before someone murders him.
Book one in the Bubba series.

REVIEW

It’s no surprise that Bubba encounters a dead woman – we got that from the title – but we do learn (quickly) that the deceased is his ex- fiancée, whom he had not seen in three years. So what was she doing in this small East Texas town of Pegramville? And how come everything fell into place that Bubba is alone at his job (during the wee hours) and has no alibi for the time of death?

Along the way we’re introduced to Bubba’s momma — the feisty, unpredictable, eccentric Miz Demetrice… who organizes (among other activities) an illegal “floating” poker game. [It’s a poorly kept secret since everybody knows about it.]

We also meet the lovely waitress, Lurlene, who has certainly captured Bubba’s romantic interest since they’ve had three or four (presumably platonic) dates.

In Pegramville, everybody knows everybody else’s business… personal and otherwise. And since most of these local families go “way back”, everybody knows the histories (and sins) of those families’ ancestors. Everybody also knows the chronic misbehaviors of their fellow citizens… whether those are truly unlawful activities or merely immoral proclivities.

While incredibly lax about any other law enforcement – including that floating gambling bunch – the sheriff and deputy seem awfully intent on fixing Bubba into the frame for this murder. Bubba does precious little to advance his own version of events – refusing to offer any defense against old and new accusations – and likewise withholding info and theories which should be helpful to the sheriff’s investigation.

As is the case in nearly every other good murder mystery, one of the likely suspects turns up dead. Of course, Bubba is the obvious culprit for this second murder… and of course he has little or no alibi. And of course, he hardly protests his own innocence — he just lumbers back to jail.

And that’s my main beef with this story. The plot is clever enough, but the pacing is erratic. Every high-schooler who passed English class likely knows that Hamlet (the Danish Prince) suffered from the inability to DO anything to improve his own lot — well, except he did kill the new King. Anyway, likewise, Bubba does little but react – to intruders, new developments, new accusations, etc. – until the author is finally ready (in the final chapters) to turn him loose. Only then does Bubba to take any significant action on his own behalf.

During his several visits to the sheriff’s office, Bubba finally meets the new deputy – transferred from a larger city – Willodean Gray. And now his romantic attention is divided!

There are several amusing “turns of phrase” (from various characters) and colorful metaphoric descriptions. There’s also a funny running gag in which Miz Demetrice makes references to having murdered her wayward husband (though she DIDN’T). Each time she phrases it, the means of death changes… and it’s a hoot. Especially because of the non-reactions of the characters around her. You can tell that while her straying hubby was still alive, Demetrice most likely DID daydream about a hundred different ways to do him in… and from those larcenous daydreams, she blurts out the one that surfaces first. [If this were ever made into a movie, I could see aging actresses killing each other for the opportunity to play the role of Demetrice!]

There’s at least one sequel in the Bubba series, but I really didn’t become attached enough to Bubba – or the others – to care enough what happens later. I’m sure he will stumble / lumber through it…reacting, rather than acting. And presumably he’ll grow closer to the lovely deputy Willodean.

[JLS # 589]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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8 Responses to A Fun Mystery

  1. jbrayweber says:

    Every action must have motivation. Sounds like that’s what may be missing from Bubba. Still, sounds like a fun read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      yeah, I enjoyed the story. But it was simply too frustrating for Bubba to just follow the sheriff to the jailhouse without making any significant effort to state his defense. And then to discover new info, but withhold it from the authorities…
      OH well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This all sounds very amusing.
    I actually know a woman who certainly does not claim to have murdered her husband, but she has told my sister and me at least three versions as to how
    he died.I knew him, but we had been out of touch. I’d love to know the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    It sound amusing, but honestly it would irritate me if he did nothing to help himself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      It does me, too. But I’ve seen more and more of that approach to the alpha character: stoic and silent (in their own defense) when just a few words might possibly diffuse a bad situation.

      Like

  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I’ve been reading a lot of cozy mysteries, but if the main character isn’t particularly clever, I think maybe I’ll hold off on this one for a bit. Thanks for the description!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      LOL. Well, Bubba is not actually stupid… he’s just got such a laissez-faire attitude about mounting his own defense and reporting what he’s observed or perceived (that would help his case). Not sure what to call that, except “unconcerned” perhaps.

      Like

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