Arkansas Traveler (Benni Harper Mystery) by Earlene Fowler

Earlene Fowler is the award winning author of the Benny Harper mystery series.

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Arkansas Traveler (Benni Harper Mystery) by Earlene Fowler


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You Can Go Home Again, But Most Things Have Changed, September 2, 2003 Reviewer: drakeclark from Riverdale, GA United States The books in this series are all named after real patchwork quilt patterns. Benni Harper is the curator of a folk art museum in San Celina, California who was raised by her father and grandmother on a ranch. She married at a very young age and ranched with her husband for 15 years. After her husband was killed, she moved to town, where she met and later married her second husband, police chief Gabriel Ortiz. I like the way the author explores class and cultural differences through relationships: Benni?s husband is a Latino man who can be very ?macho;? her best friend Elvia is a sophisticated Latina bookstore manager; Elvia is dating Benni?s wealthy cousin Emory, who moved from Arkansas to San Celina so he could woo Elvia. Arkansas Traveler is the eighth book in the series. Benni, Emory, Elvia and Gabe travel to Benni's hometown of Sugartree, Arkansas for the Sugartree Baptist Church?s Homecoming. The book is an excellent exploration of life and race relations in a small Southern town, but it is not strident. Benni is angry and embarrassed by the hostility and prejudice some of the townspeople show toward Gabe and Elvia; a black church and a white church need to merge to survive but both congregations are against racial mixing; Benni?s childhood friend Amen, the first black woman to run for mayor, is having trouble with white supremacists, one of whom is her opponent?s son. The son is killed, Amen?s nephew is arrested and Benni gets involved in trying to solve the murder. Secrets and lies abound, but leavening the mix is a comic subplot involving a long-simmering feud between Benni?s grandmother and the grandmother?s sister that erupts into a cooking battle. This is a thought-provoking book and it's the best in a good series. You will want to run out and get all the other Benni Harper books.

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