Review

Killer on a Hot Tin Roof: A Delilah Dickinson Literary Tour Mystery, Book 3

by Livia J. Washburn

Delilah Dickinson is a single woman of a certain age who runs
her own travel agency in Atlanta, Georgia. Her agency has cornered
a niche market, as she specializes in tours focusing on Southern
literary figures. Unfortunately, her recent trips --- featuring
landmark events from Mark Twain’s and Margaret
Mitchell’s works --- have been marred by scandalous
incidences of murder and mayhem. Although Delilah has discovered
that she has a particular talent for solving these crimes, she
knows that too much notoriety could mean the end of the small
travel agency she runs with her daughter and son-in-law. Who would
want to go on a literary tour with a reputation for murder?

When Delilah decides to lead a group of English professors to
New Orleans to attend the annual Tennessee Williams Literary
Festival, she expects the tour to be low-key and relaxing,
reasoning that English professors were unlikely to be too much
trouble. As an added bonus, her friend and love interest, Dr. Will
Burke, would be part of the tour, and they would stay at the
upscale St. Emilion Hotel in the city’s French Quarter. But
Delilah’s enthusiasm for leading the tour begins to wane as
she realizes that this noisy, cantankerous faculty group is not too
easily handled. They argue vociferously (about such esoteric
matters as the ethnological and gynocentric significance to
Tennessee Williams’s work); they drink to excess; they have
secret affairs that don’t remain secret for too long; they
guard family secrets that would ruin them if they were exposed; and
more than a couple of them appear to be at each other’s
throats. Far from appearing gentle and mild-mannered, some of the
tour members actually look like mafiosos to Delilah.

But things really heat up when one of the members of the tour,
Dr. Michael Frasier, shows up with an unexpected guest. His
companion, Howard Burleson, is a shuffling old man with an
outrageous claim --- that he and Tennessee (then known as Tom)
Williams had been lovers in his youth, and that he himself was the
author of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” one of the most
famous plays attributed to Williams. While the former of his claims
raises no eyebrows --- Williams was known to be gay and to have had
many liaisons during his life --- the latter creates an uproar in
the group. Among those most affected by the news is Frasier’s
ex-girlfriend and bitter rival, Dr. Tamara Paige, whose
life’s work has been the study of the play in question. If
the author of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” were proven to be
Burleson instead of Williams, it appears that Tamara’s career
could suddenly find itself in ruins. She and the other members of
the tour group are in a frenzy to corner Burleson and learn if
there is any truth to his claims.

Delilah can hardly imagine that the true authorship of one of
Williams’s plays could matter after all the time that has
passed since the play was first written. All she wants to do is go
out to a nice dinner with Will, enjoy some live music, and return
to their hotel to sink into her luxurious four-poster bed, ideally
with some friendly company. But when one of the tour group members
goes missing, Delilah reluctantly shelves her own, rather more
enjoyable plans to join the search. When a key figure turns up
dead, and Delilah is the one to have stumbled across the body, she
has to work fast to prove her own innocence to the police and to
find the killer before she herself turns into his next target.

Author Livia J. Washburn’s latest foray into literary
murder mysteries successfully marries entertainment with
literature, highlighting the works of playwright Tennessee Williams
in a fast-paced and enjoyable mystery novel. The prolific author
has a winner in series heroine Delilah Dickinson, a Southern belle
and feisty redhead (just don’t call her “Red”)
with a knack for solving crime. Washburn has just the right touch
with the literary theme, providing informative tidbits about
Tennessee Williams’s life and work, without bogging the novel
down with minutiae. A fun read!

Reviewed by Usha Rao on February 24, 2011

Killer on a Hot Tin Roof: A Delilah Dickinson Literary Tour Mystery, Book 3
by Livia J. Washburn

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • ISBN-10: 0758225709
  • ISBN-13: 9780758225702