When Will the Dead Lady Sing? Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of When Will the Dead Lady Sing?

Signet, June 2004, 5.99, 272 pp.
ISBN 045121223

In the town of Hopemore, Georgia, MacLaren's day gets off to an unusual start when she sees a buffalo munching on the grass in the yard of her new house. By the time she finds the courage to go outside and get the animal away from her rose bushes, she has the second shock of the morning. Her college boyfriend Burlin Bullock, the one her husband Joe Ridley doesn't know about, is explaining to her that the buffalo is a symbol of his son's run for governor.
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MacLaren would like to leave Hopemore for the week that the Bullocks are in town but business prevents her from doing so. She gets to see Burlin more than she would like. A homeless person who is following the Bullocks on the campaign trail is found murdered and circumstantial evidence points to a person that MacLaren knows is innocent and plans to prove it. The real killer, who fears that MacLaren will figure out the truth, decides to kill her.

This down home regional mystery gives readers a sprinkle of small town deep south living, customs and mannerisms. The protagonist is a judge who does more to solve crimes than to render judgments on them. Patricia Sprinkle knows how to write a charming and quaint mystery without resorting to blood, gore or on stage violence of any kind. WHEN WILL THE DEAD LADY SING? is a great installment in a winning series.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of When Will the Dead Lady Sing?

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 10% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   2000+ (Present) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   70% Kind of investigator    -   skilled citizen investigator Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   life in small town Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Deep South

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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