What is it about the South that seems to spawn murder, mayhem and amateur sleuths? This geographical crime magnet has led to numerous entertaining cozies like Elizabeth Spann Craig's Pretty Is As Pretty Dies. Set in the small town of Bradley, North Carolina, this charming mystery features retired English teacher Myrtle Clover, a curious (some might say meddlesome) woman who likes to one-up her son Red, the local police chief. To keep Myrtle in check, Red signs her up for activities around town like church committee work, which are loathsome to her. This time, though, Red has done her an inadvertent favor by volunteering her at church when she stumbles upon a body in the sanctuary. Myrtle rushes to conduct her own investigation into the murder of Parke Stockard, the universally detested victim who specialized in ruthless real estate deals. If everyone loathes Parke, how can Myrtle narrow the list of suspects and finger the killer? Craig's skill at evoking a small town and its idiosyncratic inhabitants renders this mystery a pleasure to read. I'm looking forward to the further exploits of Myrtle Clover.