To Live and Die in Dixie

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

TO LIVE AND DIE IN DIXIE is Kathy Hogan Trocheck’s second mystery featuring the intrepid Callahan Garrity, whom she introduced in EVERY CROOKED NANNY (1992). A former cop, a licensed private investigator, and the owner of the best housecleaning service in Atlanta, Callahan knows a lot about her city. Nevertheless, when her cleaning staff finds the body of a young girl named Bridget in the mansion of antique dealer Elliot Littlefield, Callahan has no intention of getting involved in the search for a killer, at least, not until Littlefield offers her money. For a sizable fee, Callahan agrees to look for the newly discovered diary of a Civil War madam and for other valuable memorabilia, which disappeared at the time of the murder.

The more people she talks to, the more possible suspects Callahan finds. In addition to unscrupulous private collectors and their agents, who are desperate to obtain the diary, there are several neighbors who hate Elliot Littlefield and would like to see him in prison, particularly since he had evaded punishment for a murder twenty years before. Callahan also wonders about Bridget’s married soccer coach, with whom the teenager was having a clandestine affair. When vandalism and death threats escalate to actual attempts on her life, Callahan knows that she must be getting close to the truth, and in a dramatic climax, all is revealed.

TO LIVE AND DIE IN DIXIE is a delight to read. The characters are lively, often funny, and the suspense is unrelenting. Moreover, the author’s perceptive comments on her urban South have relevance to every traditional society which finds itself rapidly approaching a new century and a new way of life.