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Octogenarians An'gel and Dickcee Ducote return with their 19-year-old ward Benjy in another adventure in Fixing to Die by Miranda James. The trio, along with their dog, Peanut, and cat, Endora, travel to Natchez, Mississippi to help Mary Turner Catlin, the granddaughter of the sisters' old friend. Mary Turner has inherited Cliffwood, her family's antebellum mansion, that her parents turned into a bed and breakfast in the 1970s. Now Mary Turner and her husband Henry Howard run ther B&B, but recently she they have had problems with strange occurrences that could indicate that the house is haunted. Thus, she has turned to the two women she can trust to get to the bottom of this problem. As they enjoy their lunch after arriving, a stranger named Primrose Pace comes in and announces she is a psychic medium who will get rid of their ghost problems. So Cliffwood gets another guest.
Soon after the group arrives, the sisters are greeted by strange occurrences themselves, such as a shadow that suddenly disappears and the moving of An'gel's clothing in her bedroom. Then, the first afternoon, An'gel opens the door to a belligerent young woman who insists on being let into the house. Her lawyer, Mr. Truss Wilbanks, explains that Serenity Foster (whose name most definitely doesn't fit her character!) is a cousin (as in fifth cousin) and needs to talk to her brother, Nathan Gambol. However, since Nathan refuses to see her, Serenity has come to Mary Turner's house, knowing that Nathan intends to visit his cousin that day. Nathan is obsessed with the French Room, which was decorated with items from France for his ancestor and which he believes is his rightful inheritance. Nathan controls Serenity's trust fund, and she needs him to release money so she can afford to get custody of her young sons. Nathan's arrival causes a fight between the siblings and leads to both brother and sister, along with the lawyer, who obviously is in a relationship with his client, insisting on staying at the house. An'gel even gives up the French Room to Nathan to keep the peace.
The next morning, An'gel, Dickcee, and the others come down to breakfast before 8:00, but Nathan doesn't come down. So Henry Howard goes up to the French Room to check on him and finds him dead. They immediately call the police, but as soon as Serenity hears about the passing of her brother, she accuses Mary Turner in front of the police. The rest of the book involves all sorts of searches for the one behind the hauntings and the murder.
The plot of Fixing to Die gives an interesting trip through the investigations of the Ducote sisters and Benjy. The storyline is creative, and though I miss the people of Athena, I enjoyed the events and people in Natchez.
While the plot of Fixing to Die is creative and fun, the characters in this book bring it to life in an especially delightful way. You can't help but love the Ducote sisters, who don't act as if they are in their 80s and who have sharp, clever minds that do a great job of getting to the bottom of their mysteries. I must admit to getting a kick out of the way the 80-year-old women text secret messages to each other. How many other octogenarians even know how to text, let alone feel comfortable doing it like these two do? The books in this Southern Ladies Mystery series are a spin-off of James's Cat in the Stacks series, where we first met An'gel and Dickcee. In general I like the other, longer- running series better, but this book was especially good. Benjy and the animals add fun to the book, as do the lesser characters.
I appreciated the narration of Jorjeana Marie in the audiobook. She has a voice well-suited to performing both female and male parts. This book also has some sections in which An'gel ponders the possibilities, and those sections have potential to become tedious if not read by a capable performer. Jorjeana Marie takes these sections with expression and creates interest. I'm impressed with her performance in this book.
I really had a good time listening to Fixing to Die. I was really excited to see that this book had finally been released on audiobook, since at the book's initial paperback and Kindle publication, there were no plans to record the book. So when I came upon this at the Audible site, I was excited. This book didn't disappoint me for a single second. I give it five stars.