Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Book Reviews: Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything, The Abundance

Nancy Martin's latest comic whodunit is a worthwhile summer vacation read.




 

If there is one thing we can all agree on in this contentious political season, it’s that summer vacation will help us endure the long lead-up to the general election. It’s awesome!

But before we can indulge in all that fun in the sun, first we must pack. And packing for vacation is fraught with many potential pitfalls. Just as you don’t want to find yourself knee-deep in the Hawaiian surf adorned in a chinchilla fur coat or striding around Burning Man in mukluks, you surely don’t want to have inadvertently packed the wrong book with which to laze away your languorous downtime. So here are suggestions that will help avert a total vacation disaster.

Highland Park’s grand dame of mystery Nancy Martin strikes black gold, that’s Texas tea, with her latest comic whodunit Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything. Sunny McKillip is the victim of academic downsizing. After arriving in Mule Stop, Texas, she loses her college gig only to land the position of personal assistant to Honeybelle Hensley, a bigger-than-life oil dynasty matriarch.

Most of Sunny’s duties entail looking after Honeybelle’s prized pooch, Miss Ruffles. That’s easier said than done, when the dog in question, “a Texas cattle cur — a small but powerful dog with the speed and temperament for driving cows over a cliff, if need be,” is as troublesome and rabble-rousing as Miss Ruffles.

When Honeybelle dies under mysterious circumstances, rather than provide an inheritance to her family, she leaves her fortune to her preferred pup — and she leaves the wealthy canine in Sunny’s care. Is there a killer on the loose? Is Miss Ruffles the next target? Did Honeybelle’s waspish daughter-in-law have a hand in her death? Will Sunny find true love with the roguish cowboy attorney? Will Miss Ruffles ever be house broken? Sunny will have to turn sleuth and learn the truth about her former employer’s demise all the while protecting her unruly charge.
 


 

Martin’s waggish tale of maybe-murder and mutt mayhem deep in the heart of Texas is an antic good time. A breezy read that will perfectly complement beachside margaritas.
Perhaps you’re of a more serious nature, though, and you’d like a book that will get your imagination humming and your brain flexing a few of those flabbier neurons. Look no further than Annie Dillard’s The Abundance, a selection of the East End native’s personal essays.

Dillard won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” a luminous meditation on life, nature and solitude. In 2015, she was awarded the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities. The present collection is an excellent entry point for the uninitiated and a handy compendium of some of her finest prose. Only the finest vacation companion observes, as Dillard does, “the world through the window, is an illuminated manuscript whose leaves the wind takes, one by one, whose painted illuminations and halting words draw me, one by one, and I am dazzled in day and lost.”
 


photo: shutterstock
 

Speak Up
July 12/ Judy Blume’s novels “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing,” “Blubber” and “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” among many others, have been rites of passage for several generations. Blume’s stories about adolescent insecurity, puberty and angst have provided comfort to many boys and girls who felt terminally misunderstood. Her latest novel, “In the Unlikely Event” is written for adults and brings her to town for a rare appearance. (Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-8866, pittsburghlectures.org)

July 5, 12, 19, 26/ Hemingway’s Summer Poetry Series wraps up its season this month with a monster line-up of local greats including Jason Mendez, Ann Curran, Celeste Gainey, Timons Esaias, Kelly Andrews, Jennifer Jackson Berry, Lori Jakiela, Bob Pajich and many more. Readings are in the back room and are followed by an open mic. (Hemingway’s Cafe, 3911 Forbes Ave., Oakland; littsburgh.com) —KC
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Your Ultimate Holiday Guide to Family Fun in Pittsburgh

We found the must-do events you should put on your holiday bucket list this year.

A Chess Phenom at 4, Pittsburgh Teen is King of Queen's Gambit

Ashley Lynn Priore is teaching young Pittsburghers chess so that they can empower themselves and their communities.

A 9-year-old's Nonprofit is Still Giving Back 12 Years Later

Started by college student Conner Hagins when he was 9 years old, Cuddles for Kids strives to brighten up the lives of hospital patients with toys, treats and special events.

PM on KD: Our December "Faith" Issue

Pittsburgh Magazine editor Brian Hyslop appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss our December cover story on what local faith leaders say is how best to move forward in the wake of the Tree of Life tragedy.

Meet Pitt's Soft-Spoken Professor Who Writes Crime Novels

Writer Kathleen George’s sinister mysteries have created a dark, alternate Pittsburgh. In her latest, however, the heyday of the Hill District is brought to life.

Yes, Virginia, Christmas is Preserved and Restored in Oakmont

The volunteer-run Kerr Museum offers tours on Saturdays — with a festive twist for the holidays.

Catching Up With Rivendale Farms Susanna Meyer and Neil Stauffer

The two foundational figures of Pittsburgh's sustainable farming movement blend old-school know-how with forward-thinking practices at the Washington County farm.

MultiStories: Three Times a Bust – The German National Bank

The bank was at the center of a corruption scandal which eventually led to an overhaul of Pittsburgh city government.

Matters of the Heart

In a city of eds and meds, it’s to be expected that some couples are going to meet in the medical field. We found some of the best “meet-cutes” from recent Pittsburgh weddings.

At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

The entertainment center in Edgewood is a great time with or without little ones.

Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Thanks to wide receivers recognized for their blocking ability and an offensive line endearingly referred to as “knuckleheads“ –– the Panthers are one win away from making their head coach's bold pre-season prediction a reality.

Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Two Oakland restaurants now have shorter hours and a chef moves from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

What Unites Us In the Wake of the Tree of Life Tragedy

We asked local faith leaders for their response to the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill –– and how we can come together and more forward as a community.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Review: Molinaro Ristorante

Ron Molinaro's Downtown restaurant offers high-end Italian dishes made with top-notch ingredients, but is it worth the price premium?

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2018 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine highlights the unsung heroes of the health care field: our Excellence in Nursing honorees, chosen by our panel of distinguished judges in the field.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Your Ultimate Holiday Guide to Family Fun in Pittsburgh

Your Ultimate Holiday Guide to Family Fun in Pittsburgh

We found the must-do events you should put on your holiday bucket list this year.

Comments

PM on KD: Our December "Faith" Issue

PM on KD: Our December "Faith" Issue

Pittsburgh Magazine editor Brian Hyslop appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss our December cover story on what local faith leaders say is how best to move forward in the wake of the Tree of Life tragedy.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Two Oakland restaurants now have shorter hours and a chef moves from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

Comments

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

Our guide to produce, pastries, libations and more will help your table brim with tasty treats from Pittsburgh-area businesses.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Don’t resign yourself to the gym treadmills just yet – fall is one of the best times of the year to get outside and pound the pavement, surrounded by falling leaves and the possibility of grabbing a hot latte on the way home.

Comments

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

We dove into the local artisan bread scene to find the best places that bake naturally leavened bread in Pittsburgh.

Comments


At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

The entertainment center in Edgewood is a great time with or without little ones.

Comments

Five Essential November Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential November Events in Pittsburgh

Avian art, altruistic alt-rock and more November nights.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Thanks to wide receivers recognized for their blocking ability and an offensive line endearingly referred to as “knuckleheads“ –– the Panthers are one win away from making their head coach's bold pre-season prediction a reality.

Comments

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

A defense that was groping to accomplish the simplest of tasks has started to dominate. The offense has stopped getting in its own way and started exploding scoreboards.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While Harry Potter diehards will find more than enough sustenance in the sequel, non-devotees may have a rough time following the action.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Coen Brothers' western anthology is less than the sum of its parts, but it boasts some great tales.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart

In a city of eds and meds, it’s to be expected that some couples are going to meet in the medical field. We found some of the best “meet-cutes” from recent Pittsburgh weddings.

Comments

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

The Portland, Ore-based lighting and furnishings store, which shares space with a high-end coffeehouse from the team behind The Vandal restaurant, is located in East Liberty's Detective Building.

Comments

Own a Piece of the Allegheny County Courthouse With New Gift Line

Own a Piece of the Allegheny County Courthouse With New Gift Line

Wendell August Forge is turning the century-old terracotta roof tiles into a line of collectible itms that include wall hangings and beer flight carriers.

Comments