Wishbones by Carolyn Haines: A review

Needing some light reading as a palate cleanser, I turned to Carolyn Haines. It doesn't come any lighter and fluffier than her Southern belle private eye series featuring Sarah Booth Delaney (hereafter referred to as SB). It turned out this one didn't so much cleanse my reading palate as poison it, or at least curdle it. Let me not mince words: This is not a good book.

In this entry, we have SB heading to Hollywood, on the basis of one turn as a star in a production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in Zinnia, Mississippi, to star in a remake of Body Heat, with her in the Kathleen Turner role and her lover, Graf Milieu (that name - really???), in the William Hurt role. So, we have two complete unknowns starring in the millions of dollars remake of this major motion picture.

Oh, yes, and Ashton Kutcher is in a supporting role.

In Hollywood, SB and Graf seem to spend most of their time making sweet, sweet love and very little time working. They roll onto the movie set around midday, after spending the morning in bed, and play hot, hot scenes, getting it all done in one take.

But soon, even stranger things start happening to people involved in the movie. One woman falls to her death. A man falls from a balcony and is seriously injured. Rumors start circulating that the movie is cursed.

Before the police investigation of the death and injury are complete, the whole mob is allowed to decamp to Costa Rica where most of the movie will be shot at a home that is owned by the director. And when we get to that house, weird things REALLY start happening.

The house seems to be haunted by the mournful spirit of the director's long dead wife who apparently died of anorexia nervosa. She starved herself to death thinking she was not thin or beautiful enough. It also seems to be haunted by the very much alive daughter of the dead woman and the director, who blames the director for the death of her mother.

Of course, SB is very much at home with "haints" since she has her own personal family ghost, Jitty, back in Zinnia, Mississippi. In fact, Jitty actually turns up in Costa Rica when SB calls on her for help. Moreover, all of SB's Mississippi gang of friends drop everything and travel to Costa Rica to support their friend and SB and her PI partner Tinkie get busy trying to solve the mystery of what's going on with this movie set.

Oh, did I mention that people were getting pushed down stairs, tied up on rocks by the ocean and left for the tide to drown them, conked on the head with various instruments, there are mysterious moans and whimpers coming from somewhere in the walls of the house, and a woman in red keeps materializing for SB, although nobody else seems to have seen her? Yeah.

This plot is a mess. It just flails around and it seems that the writer is just throwing everything up against the wall in the hopes that something will stick. Nothing does.

Perhaps the silliest thing about the book is all the name-dropping. We have Robert Redford and Brad Pitt dropping by the set - just because they have nothing better to do, I guess. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (because you can't have one without the other of course!) turn up at a party. Charlize Theron gives SB and Tinkie a plane ride back to Hollywood from Costa Rica.

No, I take it back. The silliest thing about the book is that SB and Graf are continually referred to - and refer to themselves - as movie stars, even though neither of them has ever been in a movie before. And everyone is continually gobsmacked by the prodigious talent of SB. She's "brilliant!" The director is "brilliant." Graf is brilliant and off-the-charts sexy and his only desire in life is to settle down with SB and raise a family.

The early entries in this series were entertaining and had a certain charm. The last two that I've read just seemed like the writer had lost interest and was phoning it in. This was the last one of the series that I had in my reading queue. I can't imagine a circumstance where I will be adding any more.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars   


  1. Ooops. Sounds like your palate still needs cleansing.

  2. Wow, Dorothy, this was one funny review! :-) Sorry this book didn't live up to the standard the rest of the books in the series have set.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the review. I really don't like to write negative reviews, but sometimes they just write themselves.


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