Plume, Mar 2004, 13.00, 304 pp.
In 1980 in Swan's Knob, North Carolina, Miss Wilma Mabry teaches piano and plays the organ at special events like the wedding of Lily Mae Strong. Though living by herself since her spouse Harry died fifteen years ago and her daughter married and relocated to New Mexico several years ago, Wilma likes her life in the small town. Though she admits she could do without the nuisance of wealthy Roy Swan, who wants the widow as his ever since he tasted her sponge cake.
Molly's quite lifestyle ends when her daughter Sarah and her granddaughter Starling arrive at her home to stay for an undefined while. Not long afterward, Sarah's artist spouse Harper Chilton appears on the same night that someone murdered Police Officer Clem Baker. The police arrest New Mexico drifter Jonah Branch, who rode with Harper from the southwest. Both men want Sarah in their respective lives. However, currently murder is what Harper and Jonah must contend with, but so does Miss Wilma who is drawn into their fiasco.
THE PIANO PLAYER is an entertaining southern village cozy starring an interesting group of players led by the title character Miss Wilma. The story line moves at a leisurely pace so that the audience gets a taste of life in Swan's Knob. This enables the reader to understand how various people think especially the heroine, her wannabe beau, her daughter, and her daughter's two wannabe beaus. The police procedural elements take a back seat to a deep look at small town southern life on the brink of the Reagan Era.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner