Category Archives: New Hanover

New Hanover

O. C. Strunk. Satan’s Angels. Baltimore, MD: Publish America, 2009.

Matthew Glass has settled in nicely to the beach house that his friend Christopher Fry left him in An Ever-Fixed Mark.  It’s a comfortable place and Matthew is feeling a sense of peace until one morning he discovers that a young woman’s body has washed up next to his dock.  Matthew is not looking forward to interacting with the local sheriff, a man who Matthew tangled with when he investigated Christopher Fry’s death. Surprisingly, Sheriff Gore seems to have buried the hatchet, and rather than suspecting Matthew of the murder, he only asks Matthew to keep him informed if he learns anything about the case.

Of course, Matthew does not do that.  He delays telling the sheriff that he has met with an older Hispanic man who asked about the woman’s appearance, and he tries to keep the authorities from learning about the activities of the wife of one of his friends.  Belita, the wife of Father Mark Wyatt, an Episcopal priest in North Myrtle Beach, has been letting undocumented workers on their way north stay in a cottage that the couple owns in Sunset, North Carolina.  Readers come to find out that the dead woman and two friends stayed in the cottage, on their way to a modeling school in Wilmington.  When Matthew looks into the modeling school, he learns from Sheriff Gore that the school might be a front for shadier activities, but neither the sheriff nor Matthew is prepared for the connection between the school and one of the most admired citizens in the area.

This is a book with timely themes–Hispanic immigration, celebrity culture–and much older ones–the innocence of youth, the exploitation of the weak, and the urge for vengeance.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Brunswick, Coast, Mystery, New Hanover, Novels in Series, Strunk, O. C.

Kim Reynolds. Alex Charles: The Evening Oak. Plymouth, MI: HMSI Publishing, 2010.

Alexandra “Alex” Charles is at a crossroads in her life. Over the past eighteen months, she has wished many times for her parents’ guidance. After both perished in a tragic car accident when she was just sixteen, Alex was left with no family. Having just graduated from high school, she wonders if college is the right next step. Alex is trying to enjoy a carefree summer when a man contacts her claiming to be her long lost uncle. Although Alex is apprehensive about meeting the stranger, she is enticed by the idea that she might not be completely alone. She decides to meet Joseph Graham.

Alex immediately likes her Uncle Joe, but she must learn to trust him. Joe has some (almost) unbelievable information about her heritage: her family has the ability to travel through time. They see themselves as special angels who can go back in history seven times throughout their lives to right wrongs. Although her parents chose to live a normal life, Joe wants Alex to know her options.

As she gets to know her sole family member through his own stories of time travel, Alex realizes that this is the direction for which she has been yearning. She lets Joe introduce her to the family business, which includes teaching her how to research an event in history that she would like to change (nothing too big or too personal, so she cannot save her parents), and allowing Alex to view his own first experience in 1865 Bentonville, North Carolina. With this knowledge, Alex must choose which life to live.

Alex Charles: The Evening Oak is the first book in the “Alex Charles Book Series.”

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Johnston, New Hanover, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Reynolds, Kim, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Wake

James Boyd. Marching On. New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1927.

James Boyd followed up the success of his Revolutionary War novel, Drums, with this novel, set during the 1860s.

James Fraser, a descendant of the hero of Drums, is the son of a small farmer with land along the Cape Fear River.  Even as he sees that the cards are stacked against small landowners like his family, James falls in love with Stewart Prevost, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner.  Frustrated in love and with his economic prospects, James goes to Wilmington.  Once the Civil War begins, James joins the Confederate army and becomes part of Stonewall Jackson’s army.  He is capture by the Yankees but is freed just as the tide of war turns in the North’s favor.  After making his way back home, he attempts to protect the Prevost plantation. In that he fails, but the war has both changed the Prevost family fortunes and their daughter’s opinion of James.

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

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1927, Boyd, James, Coastal Plain, Historical, New Hanover

Ellen Elizabeth Hunter. Murder on the Cape Fear. Greensboro, NC: Magnolia Mysteries, 2007.

Since Ashley Wilkes works as an historic preservationist, it’s natural that stories from the past enter into Ashely’s present.  Ashley’s sister, Melanie, who is a high-end real estate agent, is more concerned with the present, although she knows the history of any house in the historic district that goes on the market.  Often their professional worlds collide and the sisters are forced to put their heads together to solve minor and not-so-minor crimes that occur in their beloved Wilmington.

This novel open with a bang.  The sister’s Aunt Ruby has recently married. Her new husband, retired history professor Benjamin (Binky) Higgins, is a respected researcher and writer on local history.  Binky has a new book out and the book signing at the Two Sister Bookery (an actual Wilmington bookstore) attracts a crowd. Only when the signing is over does Binky notice that his briefcase is missing.  Searching the store, Ashley finds the briefcase is a store room under the body of a man who has been stabbed.  That man is a wealthy Brit who was one of Melanie’s clients.  He had been looking to buy an historic house and Ashley hoped it would be the Captain Pettigrew house, a structure that Ashley and her partner Jon are restoring.

While the police investigate the murder, Binky has time to examine a journal that may be what the murderer was after.  Knowing that Binky has the journal, the murderer terrorizes Binky and Ruby.  Meanwhile Ashley and Melanie cope with a demanding client, suspicious police,  the structural–and other–surprises in the captain’s house, and Ashley’s soon-to-be-ex-husband, who wants one more chance.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coast, Hunter, Ellen Elizabeth, Mystery, New Hanover, Novels in Series

Marilyn Denny Thomas. The Gentile and the Jew. Enumclaw, WA: Pleasant Word, 2005.

The rules of dating dictate that talk of money, politics, and religion is off limits. However, these complex topics must be addressed if a long-term relationship is the goal. For UNC graduate students Mike and Carrie, the significance of these issues, particularly that of religion, becomes apparent when the couple joins each other’s families for Thanksgiving. Mike, who is Jewish, feels uncomfortable during the blessing before the feast. Carrie receives a cold reception from Mike’s family, particularly his mother who believes that her son should not waste his time with a Gentile. This tension results in the two breaking up with each other; however, they are still very much in love and soon reconcile.

Mike’s mother, Rachel, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, has always wanted to go to her parents’ hometown in Romania to find information about her family. Because she knows so little about her relatives, believing most of her kin perished in the Holocaust, Rachel firmly believes that her children should marry Jews to keep the tradition alive. When she goes to Romania, however, she discovers that not only does she have living relatives, but that some of her ancestors were Messianic Jews. As Rachel explores her family’s past, her expectations of a suitable match for Mike change. Although the two families come from very diverse backgrounds, they are able to embrace their differences and acknowledge the deep love that Make and Carrie have for each other.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2005, Duplin, New Hanover, Orange, Romance/Relationship, Thomas, Marilyn Denny

Wyatt Harvey. Blood Rains: A Mick Priest Novel. New York: Eloquent Books, 2009.

Mikhael (Mick) Priest has a fabulous spread in Durham County–a large chateau on ten acres, with room for horses.  Good work for a private detective turned novelist.  Mick is proud of what he has achieved through hard work, patience, and religious faith.  It could be an idyllic life, but Mick, like Hamlet, has bad dreams.  As the novel opens, Mick has a dream of a former friend who has been brutally murdered.  Shortly after waking, another of Mick’s old friends, a police detective in Wilmington, calls.  Yes, Amanda Kenan, the woman in the dream, has been murdered.  The detective asks Mick to come to Wilmington to help with the investigation.

Wilmington is full of traps for Mick–old girlfriends, former colleagues, old enemies, a reporter looking for a big story.  And there might be a very big story.  Amanda is just the latest well-to-do local woman to have been murdered on a rainy night.  It appears that a serial killer is picking off women from some of Wilmington’s oldest, best families, women who are connected through a group called the Violettes.  But there is also evidence that the killer may have been inspired by London’s infamous Jack the Ripper.  Are these murders tied to the past, or is the motive for the crimes something quite ordinary? As Amanda continues to appear to Mick in dreams, Mick struggles to maintain his equilibrium and find the killer.

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


Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coast, Harvey, Wyatt, Mystery, New Hanover, Suspense/Thriller

Ellen Elizabeth Hunter. Murder at the Bellamy Mansion. Greensboro, NC: Magnolia Mysteries, 2009.

What woman wants her honeymoon cut short?!?  The Wilkes sister–Ashley and Melanie–both experience this unhappy turn of events.  Melanie’s husband, Cam, is called away from his seaboard honeymoon by the theatrics of his elderly mother, whose heart conveniently acts up just as he and Melanie are enjoying some marital bliss.  For Ashley and Jon the event that calls them back to Wilmington is far more serious.  Their company has been hired to restore the belvedere on the Bellamy Mansion.  When their general contractor is at the mansion assessing the condition of the windows on New Year’s Day, he is shot by a sniper.  He survives, but his shooting is just one of the crimes or controversies focused at the mansion.  Although Ashley has the contract to work on the mansion, Melanie becomes involved when a wealthy (and thoroughly unlikable) foreign client wants to purchase the mansion. Wait, the mansion is not for sale. Well, maybe it is.  It seems that liens relating to the mansion’s construction in the 1860s have just surfaced, and a local lawyer (who happens to be the estranged nephew of the assaulted contractor) is hellbent on collecting on that old debt.

As in the previous novels in this series, the friends and relatives of the sisters have their parts in the action.  Ashley’s ex-husband, homicide detective Nick Yost, and his partner are investigating the shooting (the fraught conversations between Ashley and Nick are possibly the best scenes in the book), and Aunt Ruby is roped into arranging the wedding of the sister’s newly-discovered half-sister, Scarlett.  Wilmington itself is a character, and a nice mix of Wilmington history and more recent economic and social issues figure in the plot.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coast, Hunter, Ellen Elizabeth, Mystery, New Hanover, Novels in Series

Elizabeth Janet Gray. Meggy MacIntosh. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1930.

Meggy Macintosh is a 15 year-old orphan, living with relatives in Edinburgh, who longs to emigrate to America.  She is sure that she will find adventure there and locate Flora MacDonald. Meggy secures passage to Wilmington where she makes friends and even finds Flora.  Meggy loves America, but the coming of the Revolutionary War tests that love.

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


Filed under 1930, 1930-1939, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Vining, Elizabeth Gray

Ellen Elizabeth Hunter. Murder at Wrightsville Beach. Greensboro, NC: Magnolia Mysteries, 2005.

It’s mid-August, so Ashley Wilkes succumbs to the lure of the beach.  Sister Melanie has rented a large “cottage” (sleeps fourteen) at Wrightsville Beach. Ashley knows that she should stay in Wilmington and finish a 1920s house that she is restoring, but she needs a rest.  Rest is just what she doesn’t get.  Melanie’s rental is stocked to the roof with guests, including super-model Kelly Lauder.  On a visit to the local art gallery, Ashley, Melanie, and Kelly find the owner dead, and it’s off from there.  As Ashley fends off an unwanted suitor and begins to think that the killer may be after her, she worries about her husband Nick who has been hard to contact since he went on a special job for the CIA.

Hunter weaves in elements from other novels in the series, including Wilmington’s historic neighborhoods, sea turtle protection, and Ashley’s efforts to juggle her personal and professional responsibilities. Readers who enjoy these novels for the bits of area lore that they contain will be interested in the information on the use of German POWs on area farms during World War II.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2005, Coast, Hunter, Ellen Elizabeth, Mystery, New Hanover, Novels in Series

T. Lynn Ocean. Southern Peril. New York: Minotaur Books, 2009.

Why is it that new restaurant owner, Morgan, does not want Jersey’s help after his apartment has been trashed by intruders?  His sister, a state supreme court judge in South Carolina, calls in a favor from Jersey to get Jersey to look into the break-in and her brother’s strange behavior.  Morgan–and his father–have their secrets, but the restaurateurs are not the only ones in Wilmington who have done things they need to hide.  The Drug Enforcement Administration comes to town and their investigation seems to focus on Morgan’s restaurant.  Although one DEA agent catches Jersey’s eye, she has just moved her relationship with Ox to a new level.  As Jersey’s relationship with Ox grows more complicated, Jersey also comes to see her dad in a new light, as he helps her with the case.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coast, Mystery, New Hanover, Novels in Series, Ocean, T. Lynn