I Can't Make You Love Me, But I Can Make You Leave
By Dixie Cash
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Before the new backup singers get their moment in the spotlight, Roxie Jo Denman, Darla’s much younger opening act and current wife of Bob Denman, Darla’s ex-husband and manager, is found murdered. Roxie Jo has managed to alienate nearly everyone on the tour bus and half the population of Salt Lick, and thus, the list of those who would like to have made her disappear is too long for a single page of a legal pad. But Darla is the prime suspect. Debbie Sue and Edwina, convinced of Darla’s innocence, are determined to do what they do best—“talking, listening, and spreading some bullshit around.” The Domestic Equalizers are on the scene, and all their skills will be needed for this case since Darla has confessed and been given a county-appointed attorney named Rooster, who never heard of Perry Mason.
Just the title of a Dixie Cash book is enough to set a reader smiling, and once the story begins, the smiles turn to laughter. Darla, “tucked, plucked, and sucked” in her battle against age, is an endearing character with a heart as big as her reputation once was, and readers will root for her HEA with Bob, ex-husband #1. The large cast of secondary characters is colorful and humorous. But it is Debbie Sue and Edwina—their sleuthing, their friendship, and their relationships with their husbands and their community—who keep the reader hooked and eager for their next outrageous act. They may occasionally doubt themselves. Edwina responds to Debbie Sue’s reminder that they are professionals on a mission with these words: “I feel more like Lucy and Ethel . . . . And I’m not sure we can even save ourselves.” But the reader never doubts that the Domestic Equalizers will prevail, although they may be battered and bewildered before they win.
Dixie Cash is the pseudonym of sister act, Texans Pamela Cumbie and Jeffery McClanahan. I Can't Make You Love Me, But I Can Make You Leave, like their other rollicking tales, will appeal to those who like the humor in their funny mysteries broad. It may be less palatable to those who prefer classic mysteries. Some readers may also be troubled by a victim so self-centered and malicious that the story’s justice seems to lie in her murder rather than in the mystery’s resolution.