As Miss Julia to the Rescue opens, Ann B. Ross’s popular heroine is trying to keep busy while her husband, Sam, is away on a church trip to the Holy Land. So she decides to do a little redecorating and surprise Sam with a new home office. Or perhaps it’s a study. One thing it’s not is a “man cave,” as Miss Julia emphatically tells her friend LuAnne: “I’m not married to a caveman. Sam is a civilized human being. The whole idea of a man cave is about the silliest thing I’ve ever heard of.”
Silliness, of course, is the name of the game in this charming series of cozy mysteries. Far from keeping Miss Julia busy, the home-renovation project in this installment leaves the protagonist time to make a trip to West Virginia, break another character out of the hospital, and inadvertently find herself in a snake-handling worship service. Even at home, troubles keep her occupied: a New Age cult is operating on the outskirts of town, and its leader is battling for the soul—and the time—of Miss Julia’s carpenter. And naturally Miss Julia is not going to let him lose either on her watch.
Ann B. Ross is in fine form in Miss Julia to the Rescue. Never shy about voicing her opinion—confident that her opinion is correct and that people will benefit from knowing it—Miss Julia expounds upon many new topics in this novel: besides the man caves, snake handlers, and New Age cults, she also weighs in on tattoos, body piercings, and architects who don’t recognize that she already knows what she wants and is determined to get it. And while Miss Julia might have no desire to travel herself (“I don’t like flying, and I wouldn’t like traipsing all over the Holy Land with my knees aching and my feet hurting. And Pastor Ledbetter would drive me crazy”), Miss Julia to the Rescue is just the witty companion to make a long wait on an airport tarmac seem much less stressful.
Ann B. Ross will discuss Miss Julia to the Rescue at Union Ave. Books in Knoxville on April 9 at 6 p.m., at Books-A-Million in Nashville on April 10 at 7 p.m., and at The Booksellers at Laurelwood in Memphis on April 14 at 1 p.m.