Showing posts with label Nora DeLoach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nora DeLoach. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

{What This Chile's Been Reading} Sisters in Crime Situation

Hel-looo-oooooooo.  What's up, y'all?  What is everyone over yonder reading?  Trust you're all doing well out there in this heat.

All right...
Books/Authors Mentioned (links are all Amazon affiliate)...

A bit of blog postie on my little reading "project" at Comic Towel 

Most of you guys are familiar with these ladies, but for those in the back...

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


Do you ever start a mystery series and it takes you years to complete it? Or, if the series is on-going, it takes you years to catch up with the latest release? Too many books, two little time? Or is it the other way around?

Either way...

I also find myself starting new (usually exciting) mystery series each year. I also find myself juggling too many series each year. Then I find myself losing sight of one or two series each year–in favor of a new love. And, hell, each year I’m spending more money on books instead of reading what I already got! (Or that's speculation and not fact–I'll have to check my wallet.) So with all that in the air, there comes a season of buckling down and finishing what one has started ages ago. And that season is now.

So with that all in mind... here's my latest focus...

I must finish the last two books in Barbara Neely’s Blanche White series. As well, I have to finish the final book in Nora DeLoach's Mama series. Both series written by black women mystery writers. Both carrying respective protagonists sharing her unique crime-stopping traversals through the genre. I began both series years ago, and have been collecting/reading entries in each series off and on for too long. Until now–this week.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

#ReadSoulLit FauxCast | Mama Stalks the Past by Nora DeLoach

Mama Stalks the Past by Nora DeLoach 
(Amazon affiliate link):

"When my mama receives an angry visit from Nat Mixon, she learns some startling news. Nat's mother and Mama's neighbor, spiteful recluse Hannah Mixon, has just died--and left a large parcel of land to Mama! Nat is convinced Mama stole his inheritance, and to save her reputation, Mama's determined to find out why Hannah named her in her will. And when it turns out Hannah was murdered, Mama needs to find more answers. With the help of three notorious local gossips--and me--Mama uncovers a long, bloody history of greed and family betrayal connected to the land Mama's inherited. And unless she discovers the truth about this plot of land, it may become her burial plot...." ~On Amazon

Monday, August 17, 2015

Into Mama's Cradle

Now for a mystery filled with characters closer to my own heart–and ones that make me want to take down a plate of bone-sticking soul food. Mama Rocks the Empty Cradle is book six in Nora DeLoach’s southern, black, murder-solving mother and daughter crime-fighting duo series. While I skipped the unowned book five (I halted over a year because of my slipping reading OCD), I decided to pick this short read up to reinvigorate the completionist in me.  Eventually, I'll go back and order book five before I proceed further.

Mama (real name Grace, often nicknamed Candi) and her daughter, Atlanta-based paralegal, Simone, are solving the murder of a young mother in Cradle. After having a bunion operation, Mama asks Simone to assist her in mundane endeavors; grocery shopping to illustrate one. It’s on one of these routine visits to the local Winn Dixie where Mama’s social services gears rocket to the sound of a screaming baby, a couple of aisles over. Together with Simone, Mama finds old Miss Birdie failing to coddle the wailing baby.  However, it's apparent who the baby actually belongs to, and why Miss Birdie has absolutely no business with this child.  With the baby’s mother hot on Miss Birdie’s trail, it appears Miss Birdie snatched the baby from the mother’s car as she went into the Shell station to pay for gas (basically leaving her baby alone to have been snatched–among other things). Known for having a anomalous reputation around town, Mama and Simone can only wonder if Miss Birdie is connected when the baby's mother is later found burgeoned to death.

And if that wasn’t enough, Mama’s dog keeps coming home with the bones of small children. Where is he digging up these bones? And whose deceased children does the bones belong to?

Told in the first-person, Simone (once again) leads us on the investigation.


This series has the appealing taste of an old, England-style cozy mystery with a Southern Black-American twist. I love this because it’s told in a voice/setting both amiable and familiar to my own–having been born and raised in Alabama (although the series take place a state over in Georgia). Now the books are certainly not the most thrilling or well-constructed mysteries. And they often feel a touch too runny and short. However, they are extraordinarily unique because they are mysteries containing people of color, further niched within the Southern; think fried chicken, sass, slang, flavored limericks, and small-town murders.  Her stories are filled with recognizable threads within black traditions, many expressed by characters in standard old wives fashion.  Furthermore, she does light Morrison-esque plunges into stories of generations gone array, to effect the present.  These stories usually resulting as the engine of the mystery.

And let's be clear, southerners are known for creating individual nicknames.  So you have characters like Cricket, Nightmare, and Eyelet to help usher in the soulful charm of the books.  And their amusing eccentricities doesn't fall into the ridiculousness of a minstrel show.  Thank God.

“Just about that time, Koot Rawlins, a large woman known for being full of gas, swung into the aisle and belched. Koot’s shopping cart was full of lima beans, rice, fatback bacon, and Pepsis. She nodded a greeting but kept walking.”

“When I got Mama back to the house, I gave her two Meprozine capsules and made her as comfortable as I could. Then I fixed lunch–chicken soup, grilled cheese, a diet coke, and a small bowl of ice cream. No sooner had she eaten, Mama fell asleep.”


But on to what’s special about Mama Rocks the Empty Cradle. Nora DeLoach always approaches subjects often judged, unfairly criticized, or unspoken of in the black community. In Mama Rocks the Empty Cradle, DeLoach uses both Mama and her daughter Simone to tackle the subject of black single-mothers, abortion, domestic abuse, and mental illness.  And she does so smoothly, and without the heavy preaching and "example" consequences provided by some of the characters' fates.

It virtually goes without saying how our community avoid psychotherapy as a solution to matters such as depression and stress. It also almost goes without saying that black single mothers gain a broader societal rap than any of their counterparts. The black church often comes to blame, almost asking our pardon from seeking the influence of professional help because of the attaching stigmas.  So what a relief as DeLoach approaches all of this with the patience, tenderness, and wisdom of her character Mama and Simone.  Additionally, she does so without the pounding of religious rhetoric.  The two characters are very sensible and pragmatic in this way; Mama much more than Simone, and with good reason when you consider their differing occupations.

Simone’s thoughts on her friend’s contemplating abortion:

“She was right. This was Yasmine’s decision, not mine. And I knew my friend had not made her decision carelessly, whether I agreed with it or not. I took a deep breath, trying to take the edge out of my voice. ‘I’m not your judge. But I am feeling that having an abortion ain’t the thing to do!’”

Mama’s perspective on the single-mother character and mental illness: 

“’You know, Simone, both her mother and father died in a car wreck when she was only two years old. Oh, she’s got plenty of family to look after her, but she was a very lonely young woman. The day after Morgan was born, I visited Cricket at the hospital again. She confided in me that she’d deliberately stopped taking her pills and gotten pregnant because she wanted somebody to share her life with. She felt that now that she had given birth to Morgan, she would never feel alone again. That’s why I know she was a good mother. I know she’d never deliberately mistreat her baby.’”

And here–despite the slight struggle in the mystery area–lies the diamonds.  Nora DeLoach's series is just too alluring to turn away from–for me at least.  I regret spending a year sitting on my butt instead of ordering book five so that I could continue on.  However, as this read, you can guarantee I'm going back on track.  I'm eager to hear more of what Mama has to say.

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