Murder Carries a Torch (Southern Sisters Series #7)

Murder Carries a Torch (Southern Sisters Series #7)

by Anne George

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Though unalike as snowflakes, sisters Patricia Anne and Mary Alice share a sympathetic heart for their distraught cousin Luke — known affectionately in his boyhood as "Pukey Lukey," because of his penchant for getting sick in moving vehicles. Luke is desperate to hunt down Virginia, his wife of forty years, who has run off with a housepainter/snake-handling preacher named "Monk." And the sisters have graciously agreed to accompany their stricken kinsman on his Luke's car, of course.

But, while practical "Mouse" and flamboyant "Sister" are unable to find their runaway cousin-in-law among the asp-loving faithful on Chandler Mountain, they do manage to stumble upon the corpse of a pretty young redhead who was prematurely sent to her eternal reward. And before you can say "anaconda," they are hot on the serpentine trail of a killer who'd like nothing better than to sink a pair of poisonous fangs into two meddling Southern sisters!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380809387
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/03/2001
Series: Southern Sisters Series , #7
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 212,619
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

Anne George (c.____ - 2001) was the Agatha Award-winning author of the Southern Sisters mystery series which culminate in Murder Boogies with Elvis, publishing in August 2001. Like Patricia Anne, she was a happily married former school teacher living in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. George was also a former Alabama State Poet and a regular contributor to literary publications. During her lifetime she was nominated for several awards, including the Pulitzer. Being a true lady of the Old South, her date of birth will forever be a mystery.

Read an Excerpt

Murder Carries a Torch
A Southern Sisters Mystery

Chapter One

"I'm telling you, Patricia Anne. Fred kissing the ground like he did was a little too much. Embarrassing."

"He slipped."

"Slipped, my foot. The man was on his hands and knees patting the concrete, saying, 'Thank God.' It's a wonder everybody didn't fall over him."

I glanced around at my sister, Mary Alice, who was standing at my utility room door watching me put clothes in the washing machine. She had on a gray pants suit with a cream-colored turtleneck sweater and had already informed me that she was on her way to a luncheon.

I was one of the ones who had nearly fallen over my husband Fred at the airport, but I still felt the need to defend him.

"He hates to fly."

"Well, I figured that out for myself about an hour out of Birmingham. Every time I spoke to him he growled. Did you hear those noises? Pure growls. And he didn't even chew the peanuts. He trashed them." Mary Alice chomped her teeth together. "Like that. Thank God I wasn't sitting next to him on the Concorde. You've earned your place in heaven living with that man for forty years." She paused. "Why are you spraying Windex around that shirt-sleeve cuff?"

"Because I haven't had a chance to go to the store. This works as good as Spray 'n Wash." I put the shirt into the machine, closed the lid, and turned on the warm cycle.

"How come you're not jet-lagged like I am?" I asked. "I feel like there's a weight on top of my head."

Mary Alice moved from the doorway and I followed her into the kitchen and collapsed onto a chair.

"I have more reserves than you do. Morestored-up energy. You want some coffee?"

I nodded that I did. She got two mugs, poured the coffee, and pushed the sugar toward me.

"You see," she explained seriously, "it's simple. I'm slightly larger than you, and that little extra fat gives me more energy. If you would eat normally, you wouldn't be so tired."

Little extra fat. Slightly larger. Ha. The woman is sixfeet tall and weighs two hundred fifty pounds. Admits to that. No telling what she really weighs. Especially after hitting every good restaurant in Warsaw, Poland, where we had been for the last two weeks spending Christmas with my newly married daughter Haley. And, believe me, there are some good restaurants there.

"You probably lost weight in Warsaw," she continued.

"I may have. All that walking."

"And not eating."

I poured milk into my coffee and watched it swirl around. No way I was going to get into this argument. Mary Alice has never believed that it's genetics that made me a foot shorter than she is and a size six petite. She swears it's lack of nutrition.

"I had an E-mail from Haley this morning," I said. "She's missing us."

"Well, of course she is. Nobody speaks English in Warsaw. Nobody. And there's not even so much as a Wal-Mart. just all those museums, old as the hills, and you have to ride those rickety streetcars to get anywhere, for heaven's sake."

"I thought it was a beautiful city."

"Well, you see, that's the difference in you and me, Mouse. I like things to move a little faster."

"You mean like interstates?"

"And better TV. Their Wheel of Fortune was pitiful."

I sighed and let Mary Alice ramble on. Haley was very happy, and she and her new husband, Dr. Philip Nachman, considered it the opportunity of a lifetime to be spending the first few months of their married life in richly cultured Warsaw.

"I'll say this, though." Mary Alice took a sip of her coffee. "Nephew seems to be making Haley happy."

The "nephew" bit is going to take a little clarification. Mary Alice's second husband was also Philip Nachman. Haley's new husband is his nephew, named for his uncle. So Haley and Philip are Mary Alice's niece and nephew (Philip by marriage). The "nephew" is to keep from confusing him with the original Philip Nachman, dead and buried at Elmwood Cemetery beside Sister's other husbands long ago, but still alive (so she says) in her heart. Certainly in her bank account. Each of her three husbands left her richer than the preceding one.

She leaned forward. "Don't you think so?"

"What? That Haley's happy? Sure."

"It's the Nachman genes." She stirred her coffee. "I almost asked Haley, but I decided not to."

"Asked her what?"

"Well, my Philip, when we were making love, just before he'd," Sister paused. "Well, he had this unusual thing he'd do."


"He'd stop for a second and say, 'Lord, the saints are marching in.'" She smiled.

I thought about this disclosure for a moment. "Somehow I don't think that's genetic, Sister."

"Probably not. He did go to Tulane. But every time I hear that song I get misty-eyed. I wanted to have a New Orleans band play it at his funeral, strutting down the path at Elmwood with their umbrellas, but I wasn't sure it was kosher."

"I wouldn't think so."

Mary Alice looked into her coffee cup thoughtfully. "He was a lovely man, Mouse. Very much in touch with his inner child. No big alpha male hang-up like Fred has."

"Alpha males don't kiss the ground when they get home..."

Murder Carries a Torch
A Southern Sisters Mystery
. Copyright © by Anne George. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Murder Carries a Torch 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
madamejeanie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sister and Mouse, the Southern Sisters from Birmingham, are at it again, finding dead bodies where they least expect it. This time, they are looking for their cousin, Pukey Lukey's (so named from an unfortunate case of car sickness when they were all kids) wife of forty one years, Virginia, who has apparently left him for a preacher they hired to paint their house. Their search leads them to a small mountain church where an odd group of snake-handlers meet. Of course, they find a body, this time a beautiful woman with a broken neck, laid out nicely on the front pew, but no Virginia. The mismatched sisters (Mouse -- or Patricia Anne -- is a sensible petite retired English teacher and Sister -- Mary Alice -- is the six feet tall, flamboyant and impulsive three-time widow with dyed hair) are off and running to find Virginia and get the other side of this strange story. When Virginia's car is found in Tennessee with the dead body of the itinerate preacher draped across the front seat, a victim of multiple snake bites, the plot thickens and it becomes obvious that they have to find Virginia while she's still alive. What in the world was she thinking to fall in with a bunch of kooks like these snake-handlers?These two sisters are what my mother always called "as common as cornbread" (which means home folks) and I quickly felt that I'd known these ladies for years. The book is written with humor and not a whole lot of suspense, but it makes for a nice little cozy read and I enjoyed it. I'll give it a 4, since I figured out whodunit before they did. LOL
TheLibraryhag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mouse and her husband, oh and Sister, have barely gotten back from Poland, when cousin Pukey Lukey enlists their help in finding his wife who has run off with a snake handling, house painting minister. Fighting jet lag, the sisters search for the missing wife turns up a couple of dead bodies and (cring) snakes. I hope you will try this series. It is less about the mystery and more about the wonderfully fun and a bit crazy family. Enjoy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome!! Great characters! Great series! Very entertaining, well written. Laugh out loud funny!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love a good mystery and these are some of the neatest I have read lately. Especially with the Southern Sisterly banter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anne George is hilariously funny with this Sister Series! I find myself laughing out loud at Mary Alice's antics and Patricia's frustrations. You can just picture the whole scene each time. It's too bad Anne passed away before putting out many more additions to this series. She is an Author I sorely miss.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Anne George has done it again with Murder Carries a Torch, one of her newest southern style novels. She's created a warmly funny mystery involving two sisters, two murders, and a snake handling preacher/ housepainter. Anne George takes you through the adventures of a pair of nosy sisters that have a knack for getting in trouble. The journey begins in Birmingham, Alabama. Patricia Anne and Mary Alice, affectionately called Mouse and Sister, try to help their cousin, 'Pukey Lukey,' find his runaway wife. As the three search Chandler Mountain, two victims of vicious murders are revealed, and Luke is attacked in a local church that has the reputation of housing deadly snakes. Before they know it, Patricia Anne and Mary Alice are swept into and tangled in the mystery. The duo digs themselves into the hunt as well as hidden trouble. Anne George puts Patricia Anne's smarts and Mary Alice's lack of reality to good use. Murder Carries a Torch is unpredictable throughout with an unexpected twist at the end. Although George breezes through the introduction of characters, she makes up for it in her development of characters. The personalities of the book are a sort of satire for southern traditions, using Texas-size accents. There is an air of humor and mystery lingering throughout the novel with plenty of side stories to perk your curiosity. The sisters' amateur ways and meddling personalities will have you smiling. Anne George's Murder Carries a Torch is a light summer read with an amusing southern tone. Patricia Anne's wits and Mary Alice's flamboyant personality will keep the pages of your book turning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read all of the Southern Sisters series and loved most of them. In Murder Carries a Torch, Patricia Anne and Mary Alice are back in their glory. Anne George intertwines great characters, her wonderful sense of humor, and a good murder mystery in this cute tale about snake handling ministers. The slightly surprising rescue at the end really illuminates George's sense of humor. The only disappointment in this book came from the Author's note, where I learned Anne George had passed away. The Southern Sisters series is a must read for cozy fans everywhere!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am not usually a fan of cozies, but this series is an exception. I have read all of the Southern Sisters mysteries and love them all. I really hate to come to the end of these books. It is like leaving old friends until the next one is published.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Again the two sisters have struck gold. I love their eccentric characters, good humored banter combined with a sense of family devotion. In this book, Sister and Patricia Anne get caught up in a murder involving snake handlers! I can't wait for the next book. Thanks for a relaxing, entertaining read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Birmingham, Alabama's Southern Sisters are tired after just returning home from spending two weeks in Warsaw, Poland celebrating the wedding of Patricia Anne's daughter. However, their idyllic breather ends even before it begins when cousin Luke 'Puke' Nelson asks for their help. Apparently, Virginia, Luke's wife of forty years, left him for a house painter, Holden 'Monk' Crawford. Reluctantly Patricia Anne agrees to accompany her more enthusiast sibling Mary Alice in finding the runaway.

Mouse and Sister as Patricia Anne and Mary Alice are more commonly known trace Virginia and Monk to a remote church on Mount Chandler. However, instead of finding the runaways, the Southern Sisters find two murdered corpses, neither being Monk or Virginia. As they continue their inquiries, Sister and the local Sheriff seem stuck on one another. Ultimately, they locate a dead Monk, but they still have not found the missing Virginia.

Fans of the series will fully enjoy the seventh cozy in the Southern Sisters series. MURDER CARRIES A TORCH centers more on Mouse's humorous asides with the reader about the excessive behavior of Sister than on detective work. Still, that should not surprise fans of the series, as that is the essence of all the novels.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He stays the same speen but begins to go harder.