Category Archives: Madison


Sharon Wildwind. Soldier on the Porch. Detroit: Five Star, 2007.

For the past two years, former military policewoman Avivah Rosen has been trying to make a new life in Asheville, North Carolina and to forget about her role in a scandal in Vietnam. However, after a deadly explosion at the Veterans Affairs hospital where she works as a security guard, Avivah’s life is in grave danger. When she is approached by the F.B.I. and offered protective custody, Avivah realizes that the ugly truth will surface. In Long Bien, Vietnam, Avivah’s major ordered his four officers to kill six American soldiers – all Black and Hispanic. Now, Avivah is the only surviving officer with knowledge of the crime.

Elizabeth Pepperhawk, also known as Pepper, is a nurse at the VA hospital and Avivah’s housemate and best friend. After coming into work intoxicated on the night of the explosion, Pepper also finds herself at risk – of losing her job. To keep her job Pepper agrees to attend workshops led by the hospital’s personnel department. She meets an interesting cast of characters in class, but Pepper often butts heads with the Director of Personnel and the session leader. When a team-building outing in the mountains goes wrong, the lives of Pepper and her classmates are put at risk.

Avivah and Pepper’s stories merge as the F.B.I investigates the explosion and the two women, along with their friends, explore why Avivah’s former major was in Asheville. As their lives become increasingly more at risk, the women realize that they can trust no one. They must figure out who is killing people close to them – before they become the next victims of an unlikely perpetrator.

Soldier on the Porch is the third novel in Sharon Wildwind’s Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen Vietnam Veteran Mystery Series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Buncombe, Madison, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller, Wildwind, Sharon

Sharon Wildwind. Missing, Presumed Wed.. Detroit: Five Star, 2009.

Weddings should be happy occasions, but in the week leading up to the union between Benny Kirkpatrick and Lorraine Fulford, Benny and Lorraine and their family and friends experience fear, anger, jealousy, regret, and shame.  It starts when Benny’s mother, Grace, is abducted at the Asheville airport in the presence of a young boy who will soon be one of Benny’s stepsons.  Grace reappears the next day, but when the man who abducted her turns up dead, Grace and her husband become suspects.  It seems that Benny’s parents knew the dead man when they all lived in Alaska in the 1940s.  As the novel unfolds, readers learn that the dead man was one dirty dog and that other characters–including the bride–had reason to wish him dead.  While policewoman Avivah Rosen works on the case, her friend Elizabeth Pepperhawk attempts to smooth jangled nerves even as her composure and sobriety are tested by her relationship with the man in her life, Colonel Darby Baxter.

In Presumed Wed a large cast of characters flow into and out of the action.  It’s 1974 and the war in Vietnam, illicit Irish Republican Army fundraising, and the social ferment of the era, especially the women’s movement, figure in the plot and color the character’s inner lives.  The rich portrayal of this era is an element that adds depth to the Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen mysteries.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Buncombe, Madison, Mountains, Novels in Series, Wildwind, Sharon

James Hay, Jr. The Bellamy Case. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1925.

Stokes Jackson is a slick political operative who comes down to Asheville from New York to run Wayne Gilmore’s state senate campaign. It’s the early 1920s and women have just gotten the right to vote, so a key part of Jackson’s strategy is to persuade women to vote for his candidate.  However, Gilmore’s opponent is a woman, Joan Bellamy.  Jackson’s first thought is to throw mud on Bellamy, but before he can do that he is murdered.  The whole Bellamy family comes under suspicion.  Only with the help of a detective is Joan able to prove her innocence, and as the novel ends her personal and professional futures look quite bright.

Because there were two factual errors early in the book (Asheville is not in Orange County and Marshall, not Madison, is the county seat of Madison County), I was ready to dismiss this novel, assuming that the author hadn’t spent much time in the state. In fact, James Hay Jr. spent over a decade in Asheville, working some of that time at the Asheville Citizen.  And, in 1920, a woman, Lillian Exum Clement, was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly from Buncombe County.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1925, Buncombe, Hay, James, Madison, Mountains, Mystery

Frances Hodgson Burnett. Louisiana. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907.

Louisiana (Louise) Rogers, a pretty mountain girl, is sent by her father to Oakvale Springs to recover her health. The resort has a healthful climate, but most people who come there are well-to-do Southerners looking to socialize with people like themselves. Louisiana is out of place, as is Olivia Ferrol, a New Yorker. The misfits become friends. Olivia makes Louise her project, changing her hairstyle and manner of walking, and dressing her in finer clothes. Complications ensue when Olivia’s brother is taken with Louise. When Louise and the Ferrols take refuge at Louise’s house during a storm, the differences between Louise and her suitor are exposed. Louise’s father is the hero of this tale, which ends happily for the young lovers. Oakvale Springs is thought to be based on Hot Springs in Madison County.

Check this title’s availability and access an online copy through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1900-1909, 1907, Burnett, Frances Hodgson, Madison, Mountains, Novels to Read Online

Susan Whitfield. Just North of Luck. West Conshohocken, PA: Infinity Publishing, 2007.

UPDATE NOV. 17, 2015: Susan Whitfield’s books are now published by Studebaker Press.

In Just North of Luck, the second book in the Logan Hunter mystery series, new SBI agent Logan trades the beach for the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her first assignment is to expose a moonshine ring in fictional Moss County, but after a school janitor is brutally murdered in the town of Trust, she offers to help with that investigation as well. As time passes, the deaths of more school employees have Logan and a local detective searching for a serial killer. In addition to murder and moonshine, Logan also uncovers a local meth producer and faces some of the ghosts from her past.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Madison, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Whitfield, Susan

Ron Rash. The World Made Straight. New York: Holt, 2006.

Past and present are entertwined in this novel when 17-year-old Travis Shelton begins to investigate his ancestors’ role in the 1863 Civil War massacre at Shelton Laurel. Travis has just dropped out of school and spends most of his time hanging out and reading history with a former teacher in Madison County, N.C. The teacher has turned to selling pot to make a living and needs Travis’s help when he gets in over his head with nearby drug dealers.

The World Made Straight won the 2006 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Madison, Mountains, Rash, Ron, Suspense/Thriller