South Of Sanity
by Suzann Ledbetter, contemporary (2001)
MIRA, $5.99, ISBN 1-55166-797-5

This book is a sequel - with the same main cast - to East Of Peculiar. It has old folks retreat Valhalla Springs resident manager Hannah Garvey sparking with resident local sheriff David Hendrickson as they solve mysteries. Sort of like Stephanie Plaum and Joe Morelli, only this time they make Granny Mazur jump up and down and screech like a senile biddy to milk the laughs.

I know, I'm old. But I tell you, the day I become as dotty as the old people populating this novel, please, somebody put me into a cell with padded walls so that no one will ever cast me into a story like this one ever. I'd rather endure the ever-present old-folks, older-songs karaoke competitions they hold in my housing block first.

In the last book, Hannah and David almost did it. In this book, David is accused of shooting an unarmed civilian and he will lose his job if Hannah and the Geriartic Dingbat Squad don't come to his rescue. As usual, old ladies squeal "Oooh!" as they scurry around like doormouse packs on drugs while do-bee-doing the theme song of Jeopardy, old men wiggle their scrawny behinds and come on to young women, and I want to die.

Hannah and David are decent characters with a toned-down Plum-Morelli chemistry (sorry, Ms Ledbetter, but heck, everyone I know is comparing you to Ms Evanovich, I may as well do it too), but the old people in this story! Yes, yes, I have no sense of humor - dotty old ladies winking at David, oohing over his muscles even as they fret over trivia, bingo, and Jeopardy are simply hilarious, I know - but really, after reading South Of Sanity, I feel depressed. I want to roll up, crawl into my bedroom, and die. The bottle of pills look tempting, too bad they contained paracetamol, not sleeping pills. I'm old. I will end up like these overexcited, jumping, bopping, squealing Estelle Getty clones with no dignity, no class, no purpose in life except to be silly so that people will laugh at me. Someone kill me. Now.

Then Edward Kerr appears on the TV screen and life is beautiful again.

Really, I'm too old for these self-pity episodes.

Rating: 54

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