Auntie M had the good fortune to meet a lively bunch of “low country” North and South Carolina authors a few weeks ago at the Cape Fear Crime Festival.
She came home loaded down with new books to interest readers. Here are a few you might want to check out:
Logan is called from her bridal shower to attend the crime scene of a murdered woman, found on the nature preserve on the campus of UNC-Wilmington. Maeve Smoltz’s badly beaten, naked body has been shredded in the groin area with a razor-sharp Sawzall, her genitals found in a separate bag.
Contrary to her parents impression, the preliminary examination by the coroner shows Maeve to have been highly sexually active. A search of her room reveals pricey boots, a Prada bag and Jimmy Choo shoes she couldn’t possibly have afforded on her meager salary from the college canteen.
Maeve’s roommate, Antonella Beaujue-Dufour, sets Logan’s instincts on edge, and the girl’s evasiveness coupled with the people she hangs out with soon plunge Logan into the heart of an investigation that reveals a pornography business built on deceit and coercion. Logan manages to squeeze in her beach wedding to the love of her life, Chase Railey, also an SBI agent, with the help of her two best friends. But that doesn’t stop her from tracking down an unstable killer as the deaths mount up.
Whitfield captures coastal NC area details just right. The storyline will capture your attention, but nothing will prepare you for the dramatic ending that will irrevocably change Logan’s life.
Whitfield has done a ton of research into the chilling aspects of the porn business and how it endangers the lives of young women on college campuses. A former high school administrator, the story was one that has lingered in her mind since hearing from one of her students how her older sister coped with college life by her lucrative sideline. Whitfield, a lifelong NC resident, also compiled recipes from mystery writers for the cookbook Killer Recipes. Its proceeds go to cancer research. Learn more about Susan and her book on www.susanwhitfieldonline.com.
After retiring from military intelligence, widow Marley Clark has chosen to security on South Carolina’s low country Dear Island to keep busy.
On night patrol, she notices the pool gates have been left open at the Dolphin Club and sees a pile of clothing on a chair beside the Jacuzzi. The naked man floating in the spa has apparently drowned, but Marley still tries to resuscitate him, even as she realizes the dead man is a friend, Stew Hartwell.
It’s only when she’s waiting for help to arrive that she notices carrots, celery and whole onions bobbing in the water with him. Trying to take in the confusing scene, she sees a trail of folded towels, pointing to a message scrawled in the sand: “STEWED.”
This is only the first grizzly pun a sadistic killer will use as the killings continue. Marley soon becomes the liasion on the case with the lead investigator on the case, Deputy Braden Mann. It doesn’t hurt matters that romance sizzles between the two as the investigation ratchets up.
Marley’s independent streak but soft heart soon lead her deeper into the web of suspects on this small island. Her courage and skills will be put to the test as she and Braden are both put in jeopardy in their race to find a killer.
Sprinkled with a lively sense of humor and characters, Marley is a delightful creation and one to watch for in future offerings. Iowa native Lovely has been in the south for over thirty years and brings her readers a dose of Gullah history and a firm sense of place. You can read about Linda on her website: www.lindalovely.com.
Ellis Vidler’s romantic suspense Cold Comfort starts off with a bang. She takes us to Virginia, where Claire Spencer runs her aptly-named Williamsburg Christmas shop, Mistletoe. The charming shop has been written up in Southern Living, which proves to be an important plot point down the road.
Still recovering from a broken engagement and the death of her mother, Claire’s entire world is hit with a heavy dose of violence when she’s mugged in her own driveway.
Her house and the shop are burglarized shortly after, and still sporting the stitches in her scalp from her mugger, Claire agrees to contact her assistant’s brother, Ray, who offers up the help of his own friend, Ben Riley.
Riley clearly isn’t happy to be involved, but he owes Ray a favor and reluctantly agrees to meet with Claire. When he has to keep Claire from being run over in the alley behind her shop, he starts to take the menace in her life seriously.
It soon becomes obvious that hired goons are trying to murder Claire, but neither she nor Riley can find a motive or a reason for someone to want her dead. As they try to search her history and follow clues, they also try to ignore the chemistry between them, complicating matters as they track down her killer who seems to know their movements before they make them.
Vidler moves the action around and never lets up on the chase, with characters who are vivid and well-rounded. This is an action-packed romance with a fast pace that doesn’t let up.
Even when the reader thinks they know what’s happening, Vidler manages to throw in one more twist. And when we think it’s over, it’s really not.
You can read more about Ellis and her two other novels at: www.ellisvidler.com.