- Ann Schwarz
- I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Murder on Edisto is 4 Stars All the Way
I was delighted. I hadn't done a book review in close to a year and felt it was time to get back on book reviewing horse. She accepted my offer and sent out the book in the mail first thing the following Monday.
Getting a book to read in the mail also coincided with the biggest snow fall we've gotten here in southeastern Kentucky in the over a decade. The roads were horrible, the kids were out of school for two weeks straight, and there was literally nothing much to do but wait it all out. It was heaven to escape it all and travel to a beach in South Carolina at the peak of the summer season, even if it did involve murder.
I devoured the book in less than a week. From the very first page I was drawn into the life of the main character, sympathizing with her over the loss of her infant daughter exactly one year ago. In the same few pages Callie Jean Morgan, a police detective with the Boston PD, has her life ripped apart after receiving a phone call from her husband telling her not to come home. Of course, Callie ignores this and drives home all the faster to find her home in flames and her husband nowhere to be seen among the bystanders watching it burn. Have I wetted your appetite yet? And that is just the first chapter of the book. Skip three years ahead and we find Callie and her son Jeb moving into her parent's beach house in Edisto, South Carolina. Her father has deeded Callie the house in the hopes it will help her figure out what to do with her life now that her son is getting ready to go to college and she is no longer able to work as a police detective. After her husband's death Callie became convinced the Russian Mob was after her and her son for putting the head of their organization in jail. her paranoia and fragile emotional state forced her to resign from the Boston police force. But life in Edisto proves to be anything but perfect. The first day in her new home Callie goes to visit her neighbor and long time friend only to find his house has been broken into and he's been murdered. From there the game of cat and mouse begins between Callie and the killer, as the manipulative and clever murderer tries to do everything they can to discredit Callie with her new neighbors and drive her over the edge into insanity.
C. Hope Clark delivers a masterful thriller that grips you from the very beginning and doesn't let you go until the very last chapter. Her main character Callie is strong and brave while still being believably damaged and vulnerable from all the tragedy she's endured. Clark doesn't offer her any crutches to lean on. Even Callie's son Jeb is growing weary of bolstering his mother through her panic attacks and fears in their new home. Fears and panic he doesn't fully understand. Not only that but the grandfatherly neighbor she hoped to have long talks with there at the beach to help her put her life back together is stolen from her right as she's moving in. As the reader I was left wondering how Callie would survive the loss of yet another person dear to her. Clark doesn't sugar coat the reality of the situation she's left her main character with and Callie understandably turns to alcohol to cope with her pain. As the story progresses the killer gets bolder and more frightening in their invasion into Callie's personal space and threats against her and her son. But instead of crumbling and continuing to fall into the bottle Callie picks herself up and begins to gradually fight back.
The cast of characters Clark introduces us to in Murder on Edisto are real and fully drawn, and they all leave you wondering if they could be the villain or an accomplice. From the next door neighbor that is a yoga guru who seems to know a lot about everyone, to the itinerant local handy man who makes himself a little too welcome in his client's homes when they aren't there. Not even the local police force seems above suspicion. The reluctant acting chief of police has a dark history of his own, and the deputy of police helping him has a grudge against Callie from the first moment he meets her. Even though I had an idea about who I thought the killer was early on in the story, the motive for their actions eluded me making me second guess myself.
If you can't tell by now, I found this novel to be very engrossing with a fast paced plot and well written very sympathetic characters. The fact that Edisto Beach is a real place that C. Hope Clark is familiar with helped as well. The descriptions of the setting and details of place truly made me feel I was at the beach as I read the book. I truly hope to visit Edisto Beach someday, though I hope to find it much more relaxing than Callie Morgan does. Overall I found Murder on Edisto a very enjoyable read. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys mystery thrillers set in a realistic, contemporary setting. The book is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. C. Hope Clark also publishes a wonderful free newsletter with links to resources for writers called FundsforWriters check it out.