Category Archives: Wake

Wake

Katy Munger. Bad to the Bone. New York: Avon Books, 2000.

Casey Jones is doing well: despite being an (unfairly convicted) ex-con, she has established herself as one of the Triangle’s premiere, if unofficial, private investigators. But when Tawny Bledsoe walks through her door, she gets a bad feeling. At first, Casey attributes this to the fact that the pale, fragile-looking Tawny is black and blue all over, and claims that her ex-husband first beat her, then stole their four-year-old daughter. Ms. Bledsoe begs Casey to get her child back, and with her special interest in wronged women, Raleigh’s toughest cookie is on the case. However, Tawny’s story begins to look suspicious after Casey easily tracks down the ex, and instead of a wife-beating kidnapper, finds a reputable Wake County Commissioner and devoted father who is a respected member of the African-American community. When Tawny’s $1,000 check bounces, Casey is convinced she’s been had in a spiteful divorcée’s spat. But then Tawny’s current beau (a scummy car mechanic named Boomer) turns up murdered, and Casey knows there’s more to the situation than simple fraud. As the P.I. snoops around, she uncovers several unsavory parts of Tawny: the cocaine addict, the blackmailer, and the abusive parent. When Casey’s no-good ex-husband Jeff gets involved, things quickly move from bad to worse, and the gloves come off as Casey goes to all lengths to put Tawny behind bars where she belongs.

Fans of the feisty, self-starting Casey Jones will enjoy this adventure, in which the fallible but lovable heroine faces a type of villain she hasn’t encountered  before, as well as turmoil in her romantic life,  but also puts some old troubles to rest.

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

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Filed under 2000, 2000-2009, Chatham, Durham, Munger, Katy, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Wake

A. L. Provost. The Trust of Old Men: The Coastal Plain Conspiracy. New York: Xlibris, 2010.

This complicated mystery, set in North Carolina during the Roaring Twenties, begins simply. UNC Hill freshman Alan Barksdale has labored diligently all first semester, with the dream of one day becoming a banker like his esteemed father, Marvin Barksdale. Mr. Barksdale is currently both the trust officer and manager of the enormously wealthy Commerce Bank in Raleigh due to the terrible death of the previous manager. Impatient to be reunited with his family for the winter holidays, young Barksdale hops in his brand-new, 1920 four-door Ford the minute classes end on the evening of December 20th. The snow falls thick and fast, and Alan tragically fails to see the young woman waving her hands in the middle of the road until it is too late. At least that’s what the Good Samaritan who stops to help tells the distraught young man.

Speaking of tragedy, seventeen wealthy, elderly men and women have passed away during 1920 on the Coastal Plain. But these deaths are no mystery: the Lenoir County Medical Examiner has carefully determined that each death was simply the result of age. Heart attacks, a misstep on the stairs, and falling overboard during fishing expeditions are only to be expected when men and women pass their seventies! Unfortunately for the departed, it’s possible that their ends were hastened by a lack of living kin on whom to spend their time and considerable fortunes–kin who might have prevented these accidents.

At first glance, no honest citizen would ever think that these deaths and Alan’s fatal car crash were related. But Norman Bates, a hotshot young reporter from Kinston, smells a rat. Now he’s on the tail of the biggest heist in North Carolina…maybe even America. But will he survive long enough to discover the truth?

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

 

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Historical, Lenoir, Mystery, Provost, A. L., Suspense/Thriller, Wake

Roy Irwin Gift. Moon Blue.[United States]: Spirit Books, 2011.

Sergeant Holly Rollins comes home to Raleigh, North Carolina in the spring of 1943 to recover from the bloody carnage he experienced on Guadalcanal. With him he brings malaria and a lung fungus, a load of shrapnel embedded in his back, and a mind tormented by the horrors of fighting the Japanese. His hometown hails him as a hero, he’s given a medal of honor, and the mayor asks Holly to ride next to him in a victory parade, but that doesn’t change the fact that Holly’s best friend since childhood and comrade-in-arms, Powell Reddy, is buried in a swamp back on that island. Sergeant Rollins needs time and space to heal wounds both physical and mental.

Unfortunately, Raleigh in 1943 isn’t a peaceful place for healing. LaBelle Blue, the black woman who raised Holly, needs him to investigate the murder of her granddaughter Lana, and bring justice to her killer. This is no easy task in a time of such rampant disregard for the life of a young, poor, black girl, but LaBelle wants to bury her grandchild, so Holly goes looking. As he investigates, the young sergeant turns up old friends, enemies, lovers, and many memories. Angered by the racism and segregation that frustrate his attempts to discover the murderer, Holly quickly becomes entangled in the events surrounding Lana’s death, which encompass more than he could imagine.

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

 

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Gift, Roy Irwin, Historical, Mystery, Piedmont, Wake

Maggie McLaughlin. Cass and the Gluttonous Gardener. Lexington, KY, 2011.

Gardening seems like a gentle and genteel hobby.  Who knew that the world of professional gardening could be such a hotbed of cattiness, jealousy, and sexual intrigue?  When Cass Nottingham, a national expert on cottage gardens, agrees to come to Raleigh for a conference sponsored by the Allencamp Seed Company, she knows she’ll see the man of her dreams, David Caldwell, a famous nursery owner.  They’ll be speaking at the meeting, along with Gary Graybeard, a garden columnist, Fiona Fenwick, editor of a chic gardening magazine, and the saintly Millicent Stephens, an expert on container gardening.  Rounding out the group of experts is Andrew Hawkins, a botany professor, who will be bestowing his professional blessing on Allencamp’s attempt to introduce certain exotic Asian plants into America.

The conference gets off to a rocky start when Allencamp’s president becomes violently ill on the first day.  When the police learn that he has been poisoned, all the speakers become suspects–and potential victims.  Fans of Agatha Christie style mysteries will enjoy Cass and the Gluttonous Gardener.  Readers who are looking for a lot of Raleigh local color should look elsewhere.  Almost all the action takes place in the unnamed convention hotel, and only passing mention is made of the city and its charms.

The main character of this series, Cassandra Nottingham, is a gardening expert from the Puget Sound area. Other books in the series are set in the Pacific Northwest.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, McLaughlin, Maggie, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Wake

Therese Fowler. Exposure. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2011.

Therese Fowler’s powerful novel, based loosely on the real-life experiences of one of her children, reminds us of the horrifying way that a community can lose its head. The story begins simply: Amelia Wilkes and Anthony Winter are in love. She is 17, he is 18, and together they have built a fairytale world of their entwined dreams. Together they will attend NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, living together in an apartment in New York City, and starring together on Broadway. Always together. But Amelia’s father, Harlan Wilkes, has different plans. Having clawed his way from the very bottom of life to the very top, he is as determined as any loving father would be to see that his precious baby, his little girl, never has to experience the poverty and deprivation that was once his lot. She will attend Duke University, only a few miles from the Wilkes’ Raleigh mansion, where she will major in something financially sound. One day, far off in the future, she will marry a wealthy, charming husband who will take care of her for the rest of her life.

Then, in a moment, that vision shatters when he finds nude photographs of an unknown young man on her computer.

What follows is a tragedy, and very nearly worse, in the most heart-stopping of ways. With a deft hand and the voice of personal experience, Fowler explores the depth of emotion and consequences that occur when two teenagers are publicly criminalized nearly beyond recognition. This novel does, and should, provoke conversations about the abuse of justice, the power of fear, and the difficulty of allowing a child to become an adult in a society that is both predatory and cruel. Therese Fowler’s novel suggests that, while placing trust in an adolescent to choose rightly is terrifying, withholding that trust can be more damaging than we think.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Fowler, Therese, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Wake

Maureen Crane Wartski. Yuri’s Brush with Magic. Durham, NC: Sleepy Hollow Books, 2010.

“Mean” Yuri Hamada is a family legend. When Nana married an American, her sister Yuri refused to reply to her letters and never spoke to her again, or at least that’s what everyone thinks. So when “Mean” Yuri surprises the family and rents a cottage on the Outer Banks, living with Yuri for the summer is the very last thing Tammy and her brother Ken want. Unfortunately they have no choice: their mother, the victim of a terrible accident, is in the hospital and their father thinks it would be better for them to get away for awhile, even if it means living with “Mean” Yuri. Protesting, the youngsters are bundled off to the North Carolina shore, where they decide to be as terrible as possible in order to convince Yuri to send them back to Raleigh. But it doesn’t work. Yuri’s magical painting abilities entrance the children, as does her storytelling. Tammy and Ken begin to understand more about their Hamada roots, and even “Mean” Yuri. Their terrible summer trapped with an evil woman turns into one they will remember forever, bringing with it both difficult and liberating life lessons about self-reliance and the power of the heart. Filled with compelling characters, Japanese lore, and baby sea turtles, Yuri’s Brush with Magic will keep young readers and parents alike as enthralled as if Yuri were reading it aloud herself, for Maureen Wartski’s beautiful prose lingers in the mind long after the tale is done.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Piedmont, Wake, Wartski, Maureen Crane

Jacquelin Thomas. Shades of Gray. New York: Steeple Hill Books, 2006.

Sela and Rodney Barnes married when they were quite young, and as this novel opens they are celebrating their twentieth wedding anniversary.  They have built a good life together–their two oldest children are in college at North Carolina State University, and Rodney owns a successful trucking business.  But Rodney’s parents have never accepted Sela.  They believe that Rodney’s marriage to Sela and the quick birth of their oldest daughter kept Rodney from finishing college and becoming to white collar professional that they expected him to be.  Although it is unsaid, Sela can sense that they disapprove of her because she is African American and Mr. and Mrs. Barnes are white.

Sela’s relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Barnes is one of the few points of tension between her and Rodney.  Religion is the other one.  Rodney has been born again as a Christian; he and the children attend church each week and he looks to the Bible for guidance in his daily life.  Shortly after the celebration of  their twentieth wedding anniversary, Rodney is diagnosed with heart disease.  After a heart transplant fails to save Rodney, Sela is left to raise the children and run the business alone.  Reading Rodney’s diary, and an intervention by her two oldest children, help Sela to see the value of religion and to make peace with her in-laws. There will be challenges ahead, but Sela and her family–all of them–will go down the road together.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Thomas, Jacquelin, Wake

Michael Morris. Slow Way Home. New York: HarperOne, 2004.

Brandon’s life has always been full of uncertainty. Whether he is trying to navigate his mother’s erratic, alcohol-fueled moods or to protect himself from her abusive boyfriends, Brandon is always on the edge. That all changes when, at the insistence of his mother’s latest mate, Brandon is sent to live with his grandparents near Raleigh. Although he feels abandoned at first, Brandon deeply appreciates his new stable home life and his grandparents’ undying love.

Uncertainty follows him to the Triangle, however, when his mother returns demanding Brandon. His grandparents are unwilling to place him back in her unpredictable care, and they initiate a custody battle. Although Brandon’s mother arrives late and disheveled to visitations and legal meetings, the judge rules that Brandon should be returned to her. Brandon’s grandparents cannot bear the thought of parting with him, and seeing no other options, they decide to abscond with Brandon to Florida. They change their names, their appearances, and their stories and start life anew.

Brandon has a chance to start over in Florida, but he brings one aspect of his previous life with him: fear. He and his grandparents bristle at the sight of police officers, and Brandon panics on a field trip when he mistakes a stranger for his mother. Although they find a happy life in Florida, Brandon’s fears are realized when their secret is uncovered. He is sent back to Raleigh to live with his mother, and his grandparents are sent to prison.

Although Brandon can anticipate that his mother will prove to be an unfit mother, he has no intuition about who will save him. One individual’s benevolence allows Brandon to let go of his fears and to be reunited with his grandparents. Feeling free at last, Brandon maps out his destiny.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2004, Morris, Michael, Piedmont, Wake

N.W. “Red” Pope. The Sweet Potato Caper. Scottsdale, AZ: Five Points Publishing, 2009.

Benson, North Carolina, in the fall of 1959 may appear to be a typically sleepy, small Southern town, but that simplicity is deceiving. Sure, traditional mores still dictate interactions and stores close for the noontime meal (“dinner,” not “supper”). However, Benson becomes the center of excitement when a few outsiders kick up some dust.

The strangers who cause the ruckus arrive in Benson for different reasons. Jimmy, a gambler with a losing-streak and a demanding family, is in town to train for a banking job with the People’s State Bank. He drives to work from Raleigh with Woody, a likable fellow who begins dating a teller at the bank. One afternoon, they make the acquaintance of Tom Boney, aka T-Bone, an unsuccessful crop insurance salesman from Roanoke Rapids. His infidelity leads to divorce, and he is desperate for money. Woody makes an off-handed comment about how the positioning of the train – which divides Benson and blocks five major roads in town – would make robbing the bank easy. For the next few weeks, no one thinks anything else of his remark.

As Jimmy’s and T-Bone’s situations worsen, Jimmy decides to put Woody’s observation to the test. He gets T-Bone in on the plan, arranging for him to find two associates to help with the robbery. Although the burglary goes off without a hitch, the criminals leave damning clues that the FBI uses to catch two of the crooks; the other pair are off the hook to live luxuriously in Costa Rica.

And for Benson, this alarming episode signals a change in its once-trusting community – simply that “times ain’t like they used to be.”

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coastal Plain, Johnston, Pope, N. W., Suspense/Thriller, Wake

Jacquelin Thomas. Samson. New York: Gallery Books, 2010.

Samson Taylor was raised to be a man of God.  His great grandfather founded Hillside Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the men of his family, down to Samson’s own father, have been pastors of the church.  Now Uncle Zachariah is the senior pastor, and he has called Samson to be his assistant.  Samson, a graduate of Duke and its divinity school, intends to walk humbly with the lord and make his family proud.

But Samson is not just a man of God, he is a man of the flesh too.  Like his father before him, Samson has a weakness for beautiful women.  His weakness leads him into situations that hurt him, his ministry, and those who love him: marriage to a woman not of his faith, an act of revenge against his wife that hurts many people, a dangerous relationship with a married woman that leaves him broken and humbled.  Uncle Zacharia and Aunt Hazel try to guide him, and a true friend is there for Samson when he hits bottom, but Samson has to decide for himself what kind of man he will be.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Thomas, Jacquelin, Wake