The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies
Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley, Jul 5 2011, $25.95
In 1930, the country remains in a deep depression that hammers even small towns like Darling, Alabama; destitution is around every corner. One of the women who lost everything to the stock market collapse is the mother of Lizzy, the president of the Darling Dahlias club. Lizzy’s biggest problem is to keep mom from moving into her house.
This becomes a secondary concern when Miss Nona Jean Jamison and her friend Miss Lake come to town from Chicago to take care of her invalid aunt Miss Hamer. The Darling Dahlias’ treasurer Verna Tidewell recognizes Miss Jamison as Lorelei La Mate who performed nearly naked in the burlesque show the Ziegfeld Frolic. Her companion Miss Lake stars in her own show and is never seen without a veil covering her face. Mr. Gold arrives in Darling looking for the two women. Miss Jamison learns of the male outsider but denies she is the one he seeks to Lizzy. Mademoiselle President decides to learn who the two Chicago females are really up to and why they came to her sweet home Alabama when each is a city gal. By doing so this Darling Dahlia finds she is also trying to prevent a hired gun from killing the visitors.
This Depression Era regional thriller is a fun amusing satirical tale as the Chicago culture of gangsters and strippers invade a small town. As always in any Susan Wittig Albert’s series including this one (see The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree), the reader feels transplanted in time and place as the meticulous interwoven tidbits bring to life late 1930. Dizzy Lizzy and her eccentric Darlings want to insure that the Day Chicago Dies in not in Sweet Home Alabama