Berkley, July 2004, 6.50, 304 pp.
When Flip Baxter was eighteen years old, a drunk driver killed her parents leaving her alone since she had no living family left. Many of the women of Solace Glen “adopted” Flip and guided her into adulthood; she regards them as her “mothers”. Over twenty years later, Flip never left Maryland and runs her own cleaning service. One of her clients Leonora Bell suffers a heart attack; she asks Flip to deliver letters to her niece Lee before her brother Roland can get his hands on them.
At the reading of Lenora's will, Lee inherits everything except for the Bell family bible that she gave to Flip, a 1972 Cadillac that she left to her friend Pal and $2000 a month to her pal Wilma Fizzi. Roland is furious believing everything should have come to him including the letters, which are thought to be written by General J.E.B. Stuart to a secret lover. Soon after the reading, the Cadillac's brakes fail, Miz Fizzi is injured when she trips on a step that was deliberately tampered with and Lee and Flip's houses are broken into. Everyone believes Roland is behind these crimes but there is no proof. Flip is determined to find that proof.
Susan S. James brings to life a small town especially the quirky characters that live there. The protagonist is independent, outspoken and feels alone although she has many friends. She never married but would jump at the chance if she found somebody she could love who would reciprocate her feelings. There are many surprises in THE BELLES OF SOLACE GLEN, a novel that reminds readers of the genteel culture of the antebellum south.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner