Bad things happen to good people in peaceful places, not once, not twice, but six times in August on Edisto Island.
Childhood tourist and recent resident Callie Jean Morgan can’t leave her big-city detective life behind when a young woman she just met dies at a party hosted by a realtor intent on keeping the summer season rental revenue rolling in like waves on the beach. Callie’s quirky next door neighbor Sophie’s connections in the spirit world throttle up, the jinx buzz talk spreads on Twitter feeds, and Callie becomes convinced that the same-time-each-year deaths of profiled women are not the case-closed accidents that Acting Police Chief Mike Seabrook insists they are. Her investigation introduces Callie to a cast of intriguing characters, from amateur sleuths bored with two weeks of solitary summer pleasures to an ambitious online journalist and a killer hiding behind a hashtag.
C. Hope Clark‘s near-flawless writing ratchets up character development to a fine literary art. Callie’s tragic history of personal loss and the residual effects carry over from Murder on Edisto, the first book in the Edisto Island Mysteries series. In the traumatizing opening chapter of Book 1, Callie stands in line at a pharmacy waiting to fill prescriptions for birth control and anti-depressants with her teenaged son and only child, Jeb, on the anniversary of the SIDS death of her infant daughter, Bonnie. The first call on her cell phone from her CO at Boston PD preps her for an impending day in court that will take down a Russian crime boss after a grueling two-year investigation. The second call from her husband, John, warns her not to come home. The high anxiety scene concludes with Callie and Jeb clinging to each other, the only surviving members of their family, as their home burns and explodes with husband and father inside.
Callie’s spiral into the depths of alcohol abuse fueled by grief ends her career. She accepts her parents’ offer to give her the summer house and take refuge on Edisto. Callie and Jeb struggle to start over only to have the retaliatory threat follow them from Boston. The trauma that reverses the roles of mother and son continues in Book 2. Jeb foregoes college to remain on Edisto as watchdog over Callie’s sobriety and a reminder of her promise to stay out of law enforcement for her own good.
But the forces in Edisto Jinx push Callie to take a long look in the mirror and decide what’s next and best for her. Her choice could have ended the series. But it didn’t. As crime novelist extraordinaire Mickey Spillane once said, “The first page sells the book. The last page sells the next book.”
Teresa LaBella published her first contemporary romance novel, Reservations, in 2013. The big city story continued in Heartland, set in small-town Iowa. Belonging, the final novel in the New Life in Love trilogy, moved the McKenna family saga to the west coast of Scotland. LaBella’s ebooks include a trio of stories in Tales from Heartland that revisit the charm of Harmony and the lives of neighbors met in book two, and Love Unlikely, the surprising chance for happily-ever-after for Marisa’s sister, Rachel. A freelance writer, marketing coordinator, and consultant, Teresa resides in her Davenport, Iowa, hometown with her filmmaker/indie publisher husband, John, and their three rescued Huskies.