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Mississippi Murder Mysteries!
What is the Sarah Booth Delaney series about?
Coming from Carolyn Haines, mystery author and former journalist specializing in mysteries set in the Mississippi Delta, the Sarah Booth Delaney series is about an unconventional Southern belle turned private investigator.
Sarah Booth Delaney is unwed and over 30, but she’s also a very good Private Investigator who works in the (fictional) town of Zinnia, Mississippi—when she’s not working on her acting career!
Teaming up with her best friend and partner, Tinkie, Sarah Booth juggles mysteries and handsome men in this long-running cozy mystery series.
How to read Sarah Booth Delaney Series in Order?
Every book in the Sarah Booth Delaney series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Them Bones (1999)
- Buried Bones (2000)
- Splintered Bones (2002)
- Crossed Bones (2003)
- Hallowed Bones (2004)
- Bones to Pick (2006)
- Ham Bones (2007)
- Wishbones (2008)
- Greedy Bones (2009)
- Bone Appetit (2010)
- Bones of a Feather (2011)
- Bonefire of the Vanities (2012)
- Smarty Bones (2013)
- Shorty Bones (Novella, 2014)
- Booty Bones (2014)
- Bones on the Bayou (Novella, 2016)
- Bone to Be Wild (2015)
- Guru Bones (Novella, 2015)
- Rock-a-Bye Bones (2016)
- “Bones and Arrows” (Novella, 2017)
- Sticks and Bones (2017)
- Charmed Bones (2018)
- “Clacking Bones” (Novella, 2018)
- A Gift of Bones (2018)
- Game of Bones (2019)
- The Devil’s Bones (2020)
- Enchanted Bones (short story, 2020)
- A Garland of Bones (2020)
- Independent Bones (2021)
- Lady of Bones (2022)
- Bones of Holly (2022)
- Tell-Tale Bones (2023)
What is the plot of the Sarah Booth Delaney novels?
For more information about the books in the Sarah Booth Delaney series by Carolyn Haines, you’ll find below the official synopsis for all the books:
Them Bones – No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth Delaney’s situation. Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she’s flat broke and about to lose the family plantation. Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother’s nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state—or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend’s prize pooch to raise some cash. But soon Sarah Booth’s walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she’s hired to solve a murder.
Buried Bones – Ambrose, once a famous man of southern letters, is planning a comeback: a delicious tell-all with a bitchy ex-model as his “biographer.” As he taunts his dinner guests with the news that his book will blow the lid off Zinnia’s darkest secrets, it becomes plain that each and every guest has a secret—and wants Ambrose to keep it. When the morning-after mess includes a bloody corpse and the manuscript of the biography disappears, Sarah Booth Delaney goes digging for answers. But many who hold them are six feet under—or soon will be—and if she doesn’t tread carefully, she could join them any day now. . . .
Splintered Bones – She may be a Mississippi belle, but Sarah Booth Delaney is no pampered daddy’s girl. Unwed and over thirty, Sarah has her own set of problems–like coping with regular hauntings by her great-great-grandmother’s nanny, a busybody of a ghost who’s set on marrying her off to the first suitor who comes calling. But when an old friend is in trouble, Sarah Booth doesn’t hesitate to get involved.
Crossed Bones – Sarah Booth Delaney is no ordinary P.I. A born-and-bred Mississippi belle, she struggles to hold on to her family’s plantation and keeps up a running conversation with the ghost of her great-great-grandmother’s nanny, a busybody who decks herself out in a stunning new outfit every day–and schemes to save Sarah Booth from spinsterhood. Not one to wait around for a white knight, Sarah takes on the kind of cases no one else will touch. Like trying to exonerate a man accused of murdering Sunflower County’s most popular musician.
Hallowed Bones – The leaves of the calendar may be shedding faster than the sycamores on her family’s decaying Mississippi plantation, but thirty-something southern belle Sarah Booth Delaney isn’t ready to sing the blues. Not when she’s got a thriving detective agency and the outspoken, outrageously attired ghost of her great-great-grandmother’s nanny to keep her on her toes. But the matchmaking phantom may have the last word on motherhood when Sarah Booth takes on the controversial case of an accused baby killer.
Bones to Pick – Someone held twenty-three-year-old Quentin McGee’s face down in the rich Southern soil until she suffocated. The lawmen think Quentin’s lover killed her. When the suspect’s brother hires Sarah to prove his sibling innocent, Sarah quickly learns that the victim had plenty of wealthy, powerful enemies. Each had a bone to pick with Quentin for writing a scandalous exposé on her hometown. Adding spice to the gumbo is the news that Quentin was due to inherit the family fortune the day after she was killed . . . and that a second book was in the works. From illicit lovers and outraged families to slandered aristocrats, everyone is a suspect—and no one is safe . . .
Ham Bones – Displaced from its New Orleans venue, a red-hot touring production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is opening right in the heart of Zinnia, and featuring hunky star Graf Mileau! Sarah Booth, who had her own brief stint with Mileau himself, is less than thrilled. Graf is now linked with his costar, Renata Troviola, a dyed-in-the-wool diva who plans to ride Graf’s coattails all the way to Hollywood. But Renata’s trip to the top comes to a screeching halt on the play’s second night when someone laces her lipstick with cyanide.
Wishbones – Southern gal Sarah Booth Delaney packs up her hound dog and her P.I. business and sets off for Hollywood to take a shot at stardom. No stranger to acting, she aces the screen test for a racy remake of the movie Body Heat alongside leading man Graf Miliau. The chemistry between them is undeniable, and why not? Graf has already starred in one of Sarah’s previous affairs and is well on his way to landing a big part in the sequel.
Greedy Bones – Sarah Booth Delaney is no stranger to drama. A talented actress and a P.I., she’s chosen to pursue a career in Hollywood when she hears that her best friend’s husband is suddenly on his deathbed back home in Mississippi—and he’s not the only one. The vicious illness begins with burning fevers and delirium, quickly plunging its victims into a coma. The Centers for Disease Control is on the scene, but they can’t find a cure for it or the boll weevils that are decimating Sunflower County’s cotton crop. With patients in quarantine and the whole town in crisis, Sarah drops everything to stop the outbreak and save the only place she’s ever been able to call home.
Bone Appetit – Depressed after losing her unborn child, PI Sarah Booth Delaney distracts herself by checking out a beauty pageant with her friend and partner, Tinkie. This works fine—until the pageant’s top contender is poisoned. The prime murder suspect asks Sarah and Tinkie to investigate, and they agree—but their decision has grave consequences.
Bones of a Feather – When PI Sarah Booth Delaney and her partner and best friend, Tinkie, take on Monica and Eleanor Levert as clients, they don’t have much hope of solving the case. The wealthy heiresses of Briarcliff in Natchez, Mississippi, claim that a family necklace worth four million dollars has been stolen, and they think that they can hurry the insurance payout if a reputable PI investigates. Sarah Booth has her doubts, and not just about the payout. All of the evidence suggests that the sisters might be committing fraud.
Bonefire of the Vanities – Sarah Booth Delaney is on the trail of a porn-star-turned-psychic operating from a haunted estate on the edge of town. Medium Sherry Cameron promises to reunite grieving family members with their dearly departed, but it seems vaguely suspicious that Sherry will only accept emotionally vulnerable and tremendously wealthy clients. Convinced she’s uncovered a scheme to separate a lonely woman from her fortune, Sarah Booth talks her way onto the estate as a maid. Between chores, Sarah Booth mingles with the other staff…and finds a few dead bodies.
Smarty Bones – Professor Olive Twist has come to Zinnia, Mississippi, to study a mysterious grave wherein lies the Lady in Red, a perfectly preserved and stunningly beautiful but unnamed and unclaimed body. Olive claims she can not only identify the corpse, she can also prove the woman’s scandalous role in the nation’s history. Olive takes it a step too far, though, when she starts connecting elite Zinnia families with the same scandal. Dander up, Zinnia’s society ladies know only one way to handle Olive: They call on the private investigative services of Sarah Booth Delaney.
“Shorty Bones” (Novella) – Sarah Booth just wants to help her fiancé recover from a leg wound in peace…until, that is, an ex-porn star declares that she’s being stalked, and Sarah Booth suddenly finds herself in the midst of a wild case with no idea what to believe or whom to trust.
Booty Bones – Sarah Booth Delaney’s fiancé, Graf Milieu, has become depressed while recovering from a severe leg injury, but Sarah Booth knows just how to help him heal. She’s arranged a romantic getaway for the two of them at a lovely beach cottage on Dauphin Island off the Gulf Coast. On the first day of their island adventure, they take a historical tour led by Angela Trotter, a young woman well-versed in local lore, including rumors of pirate treasure hidden somewhere on the island. In fact, Angela confides to Sarah Booth and Graf that her father, a sailor and treasure hunter, was murdered just when he thought he was closing in on the treasure.
“Bones on the Bayou” (Novella) – To honor a group of international investors, Shaw, Mississippi, resurrects the old custom of drifting miniature, lighted Christmas floats down Silver Bayou. Among the investors is notorious womanizer, Enzo Aceto, who meets his match in Tinkie Bellcase Richmond. She, too, is an accomplished flirt, and a partner in Delaney Detective Agency. Enzo disappears. Rumors of murder are buzzing. Suspicion falls on Tinkie’s husband, Oscar, whose jealousy created a scene at a social event.
Bone to Be Wild – Sarah Booth Delaney goes to the Black and Orange Halloween ball her best friends are throwing in New Orleans. Sarah Booth plans to dance the night away to the swinging tunes of her old flame Scott Hampton’s blues band. But just as the party gets going, Scott receives a mysterious message that threatens his life and the lives of his bandmates. Sarah Booth is ready to help Scott investigate. And then the message turns from threat to reality when the bartender from Scott’s club is gunned down in a drive-by. Enlisting Sheriff Coleman Peters and the rest of her friends from Zinnia, Mississippi, Sarah Booth is caught in a race against the clock as she tries to stop a killer from striking again.
“Guru Bones” (Novella) – Sarah Booth Delaney is unenthusiastic at best when her friends rope her into attending a health food and lifestyle seminar. Priya Karsan, an internationally known activist, is in Zinnia for a lecture. But the lecture takes a turn for the deadly when there’s a body discovered in the venue’s kitchen.
“Jingle Bones” (Novella) – Sarah Booth just wants the perfect Christmas holiday. Even with the dissolution of her engagement, she refuses to lose her Christmas spirit. But when Theodora Prince–an ex classmate and current Pastor’s wife–comes calling with a year-old case and cash upfront, Sarah Booth must find the truth about the boys who ruined last year’s Christmas pageant in time to stop them from doing it again.
Rock-a-Bye Bones – Sarah Booth Delaney knows the perfect way to begin recovering from the recent attack on Scott Hampton’s blues club. She’s going to host a Thanksgiving feast for all of her friends at her ancestral home in Zinnia, Mississippi. But one bitterly cold night with the holiday just around the corner, Sarah Booth awakens to the insistent ring of her doorbell. She opens the door to find a newborn baby in a basket sitting on her front porch…and a pool of blood slowly seeping out from the basket. Before she can respond, an engine guns and a dark vehicle takes off.
“Bones and Arrows” (Novella) – The costume Valentine’s party is the hot ticket in the Mississippi Delta. But Tinkie’s title of Queen Bee of Delta Society becomes jeopardized when her Valentine’s guests are all robbed. There’s nothing for it but that Tinkie and Sarah Booth Delaney find out what happened to the very handsome Cupid (who failed to appear at the party) and where the short, hairy, Pan-like Cupid (who crashed the party) came from. Certainly not Central Casting.
Sticks and Bones – Frangelica “Sister” McFee’s latest book is a memoir about the death of her mother and brother many years ago. Now, a film about the book is in the works, and a film crew has descended upon Zinnia, Mississippi, to tell the complete tale. The film crew soon realizes there may be more to the story than meets the eye—or is told in Sister’s memoir—and they hire Sarah Booth to discover the absolute truth about those deaths so many years ago.
Charmed Bones – When young Corey Fontana goes missing, Delaney Detective Agency is hired to find the youth—who’s well known as a local hooligan. His mother, Kitten Fontana, who is married to the kind of land development, believes the witches have abducted her son and makes no bones about it. She’s willing to pay hard cash to find her son, especially if she can implicate the witches in his disappearance.
“Clacking Bones” (Novella) – Cliburn Plantation is a ruin. Cursed by a voodoo priestess because of the cruelty of Ezekiel Cliburn, it’s home to the ghosts of Haitian mourners, slaves, river pirates, and tragedy. When Jitty, the resident ghost of Dahlia House and Sarah Booth Delaney’s nemesis and friend, asks for help, Sarah Booth takes on the nether world in this creepy Halloween tale.
A Gift of Bones – Christmas is just around the corner and Sarah Booth and Tinkie are preparing for a festive holiday season. After a turbulent season of solving cases, they’re ready for some holiday cheer. Then her friend Cece Dee Falcon shows up needing Sarah Booth’s help—right now. She shows Sarah Booth a box that was delivered by courier and left at Cece’s front porch. It contains a lock of hair, a photograph of a pretty young woman, very pregnant, and a note demanding ransom for the return of the teen.
Game of Bones – When a ritually murdered corpse is discovered at the new-found Native-American temple site smack in the middle of Sunflower County, Mississippi, the archaeology crew on the dig is immediately under suspicion — with particular focus on its handsome, flirtatious leader, Dr. Frank Hafner. So when Sheriff Coleman Peters closes in on him, Hafner does the only logical thing: he hires the Delaney Detective Agency to clear his name.
“Enchanted Bones” (short story) – A lost little girl is just about the last thing Private Investigator Sarah Booth Delaney expects to see while horseback riding one evening in the woods, and her concern deepens when she reads the note pinned to the girl’s outfit: it says she is cursed, and has consequently been abandoned. Filled with concern for the child, Sarah Booth gets to work tracing her origins.
The Devil’s Bones – When the newly-pregnant Tinkie invites her and Cece on a girls’ trip to Lucedale, Mississippi to celebrate that spring has officially sprung, Sarah Booth can’t resist. Plans include facials, food, and a trip to the incredible Garden of Bones—a miniature Holy Land with recreations of all parts of the Middle East—for their Sunrise Easter Services led by biblical scholar, gardener, and creator of the Gardens Daniel Reynolds. Unfortunately for Sarah Booth and the gang, someone doesn’t seem to appreciate this season of new life. Easter morning has just dawned when the trio find themselves at the Mount of Olives—with a dead body at their feet.
A Garland of Bones – Sarah Booth has traded in hosting this Christmas season for a road trip with her besties. Each little Delta town has a special Christmas activity, and Sarah Booth’s bff and detective partner, Tinkie, has arranged to rent a limo for the gang and drive to Columbus, MS, to stay in a B&B. Visions of Christmas shopping, parade floats, and romantic rendezvous are already dancing in their heads. But Christmas cheer soon turns to Christmas fear when, at one event after another, people keep getting hurt…
Independent Bones – When Dr. Alala Diakos, a visiting professor of Greek literature, comes to teach at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, it doesn’t take long for controversy to follow. With her fervent feminist ideals and revolutionary leanings, she quickly earns the admiration of many—and the ire of others. During a speech in the park, in which Alala tries to organize the women of Zinnia to demand equal pay, the crowd gets unruly, with men heckling the professor. And when PI Sarah Booth Delaney finds a sniper rifle and scope in the bushes, she begins to worry that there are more than fighting words at stake.
Lady of Bones – It’s Halloween season in Mississippi as Sarah Booth and the gang gather to decorate and gush over Tinkie’s new baby, Maylin. Sarah Booth is just about to refresh the cocktails when she hears a knock on the door and opens it to find a woman named Frankie, distraught at the disappearance of her daughter Christa, a young journalist. Christa had been investigating the disappearance of young women in New Orleans over a five-year period—one every year around Halloween. Now Christa herself is missing, and Frankie fears it may be connected to a cult based in the Garden District, called People of Eternity.
Bones of Holly – Sarah Booth and Tinkie, along with baby Maylin, are in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, for Christmas this year, as judges for the annual library tree decorating contest. The other two judges are writers Sandra O’Day and Janet Malone. They’re bestselling Mississippi authors, but bitter competitors. In fact, the feud between them is the stuff of legends. Sarah Booth and Tinkie are shopping with little Maylin when they see Sandra and Janet outside a bookstore, fur flying, and when Sandra vanishes from her own gala later that night, suspicion turns to Janet. Janet accuses Sandra of attempting to manipulate the media by a fake disappearance, but is it a stunt, or is something more sinister at play?
Tell-Tale Bones – Elisa Redd wants the investigation of her missing daughter to be reopened. Lydia Redd Maxell, the heiress to a large fortune, disappeared along with her friend Bethany 10 years ago, while the two of them were working as human rights organizers. Now Lydia’s husband, Tope, is set to inherit the fortune, and Elisa suspects he’s behind the disappearance. Armed with a pile of mysterious notes mailed to Elisa over the years, Sarah Booth Delaney and her partner Tinkie follow an increasingly twisty trail all over Sunflower County, leading them to a tree and an empty grave in the county cemetery. A grave that’s said to be haunted…
What should you read if you like the Sarah Booth Delaney novels?
If you like reading Carolyn Haines’ Sarah Booth Delaney, you may be interested in Hannah Swensen, Laura Childs’ Tea Shop Mysteries, Carolyn G. Hart’s Bailey Ruth Raeburn, The Coffeehouse Mysteries.