MURDER ON EDISTO:
Publisher: Bell Bridge
Books (September, 2014)
Reviewed by Joan Leotta
The book starts off with a bang! Detective Callie Jean Morgan is in Boston in the opening chapter and the events that shatter her life in the first three pages set up the rapid pace of the action in the rest of the book as well as laying out, in good order and cleverly layered into the explosive plot, our heroine’s personal and professional problems and the reasons she will retreat from Beantown to the solitude and beauty of Edisto Island.
Clark has won awards for her opening chapters and it is easy to see why. She propels you directly into the story. She gains and retains readers because she keeps the promise of that first chapter, laying out twists and turns that make the plot exciting and hold our interest throughout.
In this case, the relationship of Callie and her teen son Jeb form a subplot as powerful as Callie’s own struggles with her mother and sobriety and with the forces of evil that sent her hurtling down I-95 to retreat to Edisto an island vacation paradise just off the coast of South Carolina, about an hour away from Charleston.
Unlike its better known sisters such as Hilton Head, Kiawah, and St. Johns, Edisto is not a place of polish and prestige. You can find those things there, and more each year. Golf holds only one property on the island. There are a few restaurants, but still only one real grocery on the island and miles of State Beach and a park in the interior. People who have lived on the island for generations mingle with the newcomers and the summer tourists. When we first started going there, I described it as “taking a vacation in the 1950s.” Clark captures the essence of the place and uses that essence to propel her plot forward.
Will Callie thwart the bad guys is not so much the question as “how” she will do it. However, the love interest thrown in, and the carefully constructed relationships between Callie, her son, Callie and her mother and separately with her father as well as the friendships and tolerances with and for new neighbors and others she encounters on Edisto and who come to visit her there from Boston – these are, to me, the surest steps on the walkway to the story resolution. With this book, Clark adds character development to her overall mastery of plot and place (setting a scene and having the scene act as a character). While character development was always good in her books, she proves herself a continual student of her craft with the depth of relationships revealed in MURDER ON EDISTO.
Don’t wait for summer to read this one. When winter is pounding on your windowpanes with sleet and snow, slip over to summer at the beach where the sizzling plot and dynamic relationships of the characters will warm you while exercising your mind and heart. Although Clark does resolve all of her major issues, a satisfaction point for her readers, she leaves plenty of room for relationship conflict and possible future mysteries to be resolved on Edisto. I can’t wait to read the next one!
Please click here to read an interview with author C. Hope Clark.
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