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A BAD DAY FOR SORRY by Sophie Littlefield: Book Review

A Bad Day for Sorry is a very good day for mystery lovers.

A middle aged woman who killed her abusive husband with a wrench while he was fixing their kitchen sink, Stella Hardesty knows about good women and bad men.  Now she’s making it her (part-time) business to right a few wrongs in rural Missouri.

Despite having come from a loving home, Stella sure picked a loser when she married Ollie.  He was an abusive husband, both physically and emotionally, and a neglectful father.  Stella put up with him for more years than she now believes she should have.  She was strong enough to get rid of him, albeit in a non-legal way, but she knows that most women in her situation don’t have her courage and continue to wear long sleeves, make up excuses for bruises, and pray that a bolt of lightning will hit their errant spouses and make them see the error of their ways.  They come to realize that Stella Hardesty is that bolt of lightning.  She doesn’t really deserve the tough, take-no prisoner reputation she has, but she’s not about to set the record straight.  She wants the wife-beaters of her area to be afraid of her, very, very, afraid.

When young and not-too-bright Chrissy Shaw returns to ask Stella for help again, Stella is a bit surprised.  She didn’t think that Chrissy’s ex, Roy, had the courage to go up against her one more time.  But it’s not physical abuse that has brought Chrissy back.  “I think this time I might a brung you a problem you ain’t had before,” she tells Stella.  She believes that Roy abducted her two-year-old son, Tucker, although for what reason she can’t imagine.

Looking for Roy brings Stella into contact with a number of unsavory characters in the region.  Could what Roy’s brother Arthur Junior says be true?  That’s there’s a mob connection in their small town, coming all the way from Kansas City and bringing drugs with them? Stella finds it hard to believe, but there seems no other reason for Roy to have so thoroughly disappeared, apparently taking the boy with him.  Life in small-town America doesn’t seem all that different from life in the big city these days.

This is Sophie Littlefield’s first novel, and it’s a gem.  It was nominated for an Edgar this year but lost to In the Shadow of Gotham, which I haven’t read yet.  But Shadow has to be some book to be better than A Bad Day for Sorry. Writing a mystery on a subject as difficult as domestic abuse and yet somehow keeping it humorous requires real talent.  In Stella, to coin a pun, Sophie Littlefield has created a star.

She has also created a bit of romance, and Sophie has a crush on the sheriff and he apparently has one on her.  When the author writes the next novel in the series, and I’m crossing my fingers that she will, perhaps we’ll get to see the beginning of a relationship between these two; I certainly hope so.  And I hope it’s not too long before I see Stella Hardesty in action again.

You can read more about Sophie Littlefield at her web site.

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