Category Archives: Mystery

Sandra Balzo. Hit and Run. Sutton, England: Severn House Publishers, 2014.

hit&runJournalist AnnaLise Griggs returned home to the fictional town of Sutherton, North Carolina because her mother was struggling with health issues. AnnaLise didn’t expect to get an offer from the town’s “legendary womanizer,” Dickens Hart, to write his memoirs. Even more unexpected was the discovery that Hart is AnnaLise’s biological father.

Dickens Hart is the founder of the White Tail Lodge – a knockoff of the playboy mansion concept. After years spent womanizing, Hart is out to make amends and needs AnnaLise’s help in order to do so. Hart wants AnnaLise to look through his “big black book” and find all the women that he could have had children with through the years, so that Hart can reach out to them. His plan is to have a big Thanksgiving dinner with the mothers and their offspring, AnnaLise included. For her part, AnnaLise will bring her mother Daisy and her mother’s best friend Philomena, affectionately known as Mama, with her. All of the guests will be staying at Hart’s manor.

Out of Hart’s black book come sixty-three possibilities. From these sixty-three possibilities, only three agree to attend along with their offspring. When a fourth shows up, it is clear that Hart decided to include one of his favorite old flames, even though he couldn’t be the father of her child. With the inclusion of ex-wives for good measure, this is sure to be a drama-filled weekend.

Hart ends up being the center of all the action–but probably not in the way he expected–when he becomes the victim of a homicide in his own bedroom. A house filled with people who aren’t sad to see Hart go, and many of them with reasonable cause to have killed the man, provides the police with a multitude of suspects. However, it is soon clear that the evidence is piling up to point at AnnaLise, the only acknowledged heir. Knowing that she did not kill her father, AnnaLise must work fast to solve the case before she ends up paying for a crime she didn’t commit.

Hit and Run is the newest title in the Main Street Mystery series. This series features the journalist AnnaLise Griggs, playing up the ability of journalists to sniff out the facts and discover the truth before all others.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Balzo, Sandra, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

R. E. Bradshaw. Rainey Days. United States: R. E. Bradshaw Books, 2013.

raineydaysSpecial Agent and Behavioral Analyst Rainey Bell is surprised to see JW Wilson, a high school friend who became a State Representative, walk into her bail bondsman’s office. Rainey is on medical leave after suffering a horrifying attack while on duty. During her leave, Rainey has taken up her father’s bail bondsman business along with her father’s business partner Mackie. Rainey’s father, who was also her best friend, was gunned down while apprehending a fugitive. This happened not too long before Rainey’s attack.

The surprise of seeing JW again, and his reason for being there, is just what Rainey needs in order to break out of a funk that she’s made worse with her heavy drinking. JW has come to ask Rainey’s help in following his wife Katie. Pictures of Katie have been sent to him, along with notes. Rainey would actually be trailing Katie with the hopes of catching Katie’s stalker. Knowing what it’s like to be made into a victim, Rainey identifies with Katie and will gladly take on this job. But, why doesn’t JW want Katie to know about Rainey following her? It makes sense that he wouldn’t want it known by anyone else; he is a politician in the eye of the media. But, why not tell his wife? Wouldn’t it ease her mind to know that she’s being guarded?

Thinking this will be a routine assignment, Rainey is not ready for where this mission will take her. Soon Katie isn’t the only one who has caught the eye of the stalker. He knows that Rainey is now trailing Katie, and JW is sent a picture of the two together. This shock is nothing compared to the next to come. A single sheet of paper with a Y on it is left on Rainey’s car; a Y that mirrors the scar on her body. The Y-Man killer is back!

Over a year ago, Rainey and her partner Danny McNally were on a stakeout when Rainey stormed out of the car. It wasn’t even three weeks after her father’s murder so Rainey was angry with everyone and a little on edge with everything. While heading back to the car, Rainey was snatched by the Y-Man and came very close to death. The killer escaped and has laid low until now.

Rainey will not allow what happened to her to happen to anyone else. She vows to protect Katie; this murderer will be stopped. However, close proximity to Katie leads to a relationship that neither woman was expecting. How can Rainey protect herself, let alone protect Katie, when her mind clouds every time Katie’s around?

Rainey Days is the first book in the Rainey Bell series. Join these two women as they discover a love that they never knew existed–one they will fight to protect.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Bradshaw, R. E., Mystery, Novels in Series, Orange, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Elizabeth Spann Craig. A Body at Book Club. United States: Elizabeth Spann Craig, 2014.

abodyatbookclubMyrtle Clover may be in her 80s but she can still think of better things to do with her time than go to book club meetings where no real literature will be discussed. But, a missing cat has forced Myrtle into attending book club in order to get the word out around the fictional town of Bradley, North Carolina. Pasha may not be a house cat, but Myrtle cares about her and wants to make sure she’s safe. After making her announcement, Myrtle finds herself quite teary-eyed and makes her way inside Rose Mayfield’s, the hostess for book club, house in search of a tissue. Instead of tissue, Myrtle stumbles upon a neighbor, Naomi Pelter, dead in Rose’s living room. Now she wasn’t there just thirty minutes ago.

Naomi had emailed Rose to let her know that she was sick and couldn’t make book club. Her death seems to be from natural causes, but Myrtle decides her son Red, the police chief, should be called anyhow. Whether or not Naomi died from natural causes, the story would still be a good one to write up for the town paper. So, of course Myrtle is determined to sniff out all the details. When it’s discovered that Naomi was poisoned, Myrtle already has her suspicions and sets out with her widower sidekick Miles to begin her investigation. Handing out flyers about Pasha is the perfect excuse to talk to suspects. Red wants her off the case and blocks her at every turn. Myrtle decides Red must be the one off his rocker when she gets a call from Greener Pastures telling her that she’s been added to their waiting list and they need to set up an interview and tour to determine if she would be a good fit for their retirement community.

The case is looking like a no-brainer for Myrtle. There are other suspects, but Rose Mayfield had a grudge against the victim and was very vocal about it. However, there is a twist; another murder knocks out the biggest suspect. On top of that, Myrtle and Miles have a falling out over his not caring about Pasha. Nevertheless, Myrtle is not giving up on solving these crimes. The return of Pasha and reconciliation with Miles helps Myrtle to focus on the case. As Myrtle draws ever closer to the killer, the danger to her life continues to increase. Confronted with death, who would have ever thought Greener Pastures would be Myrtle’s salvation?

A Body at Book Club is the sixth novel in the Myrtle Clover Mysteries. Read on to find out if our favorite octogenarian sleuth will retire for good.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Craig, Elizabeth Spann, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Joseph L. S. Terrell. Undertow of Vengeance. Rock Hill, SC: Bella Rosa Books, 2014.

undertowHarrison Weaver isn’t even over jet lag from his recent trip to Paris with his girlfriend Elly when a friend alerts him to a body in Nags Head Woods.  His friend, Linda Shackleford, had been in the woods photographing its natural beauty; only later, when she was reviewing her photos, did she notice what appears to be a human arm.  Linda fears returning to the woods by herself, so she asks Harrison to accompany her.  Harrison knows he shouldn’t–the local district attorney resents his involvement in some previous high-profile investigations–but after he alerts Odell Wright, his friend in the sheriff’s department, he agrees to go.

Weaver, Shackleford, and Wright find not one body, but two–a man and a woman.  Each was shot just once, in a manner that suggests a cool, methodical killer.  When a third person is killed in a similar manner, and Harrison receives taunting phone calls from the killer, Harrison knows that this killer won’t stop on his own.  Because all the victims have a connection to a new church in town, Harrison and his friend SBI Agent Ballsford Twiddy focus in on the pastor and his deacons. But what would make one of these God-fearing people become a killer? Only when one victim escapes alive, does Harrison have the clue he needs.

This is the fourth title in the Harrison Weaver Mysteries series.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Coast, Dare, Mystery, Novels in Series, Terrell, Joseph L. S.

Jessica Beck. Deep Fried Homicide. United States: CreateSpace, 2014.

Suzanne’s Hart’s normal day at Donut Hearts in April Springs is shattered by a “dark stranger in a severe suit.” Inspector Terry Hanlan hasn’t come to the shop to catch a last-minute donut, but instead to inform Suzanne that her boyfriend, Jake Bishop, has been shot in the line of duty. Suzanne rushes out with hardly a thought at all to the shop.

Jake was shot tracking down a killer in Hickory. Jake escaped with his life; the same cannot be said of the killer. Jake’s wound will require him to take a lot of rest and wear his arm in a sling. So, when he’s released he will be going to stay with Suzanne at the cottage while he recuperates. This will be interesting; Suzanne, her mother, and Jake all in the same house.

But, upon arriving at the hospital, Dorothea, Suzanne’s mother, informs Suzanne that she’s bought a house in town and will be moving there so Jake can have her downstairs bedroom. Even more surprising is the fact that Dorothea has gotten engaged to Chief Martin and plans to stay in the other house permanently. After adjusting to this announcement, Suzanne realizes that this is a good thing for her mom and also for her. She hasn’t ever lived on her own and will get the chance to do so after Jake gets better.

However, Jake’s road to recovery and Suzanne’s time off from Donut Hearts won’t be as tranquil as she hoped. Apparently the killer Jake took down had a partner, Rusk, who is out for revenge. Rusk might be after Jake, but Suzanne is in danger as well. Heather Masterson, who was in prison for poisoning her aunt and coming after Suzanne, is on the loose and may very well be on the way to finish what she began.

With two killers who want the couple dead, how will Jake and Suzanne fare? This thirteenth book in the Donut Shop Mystery series is filled with action and surprises that will keep readers hooked until the very end.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Beck, Jessica, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Auburn Seal. Roanoke Vanishing. United States: CreateSpace, 2013.

vanishing The fate of the English colonists on Roanoke Island has puzzled North Carolinians and scholars for centuries.  Did the colonist die of disease?  Did they starve during a harsh winter?  Were they killed?  Did they migrate inland and become absorbed into a Native American community?

With no conclusive evidence, theories have dominated discussions of the Lost Colony.  Avery Lane, the heroine of Roanoke Vanishing, has long been bothered by the theory that Native Americans killed the colonists.  To Avery, this unproven speculation has been used as a justification for unfair treatment of Native Americans in this state.  Avery, a grad student in history at UNC-Chapel Hill, wants to take a new approach to the topic by focusing on who the colonists were and what their lives were like before they made the long sea voyage from England to the New World.  Could it be that their lives in England hold the key to their eventual fate?

Avery’s thesis adviser, Jonas Allen, is a specialist on the English settlement of America, so Avery expects him to endorse her thesis proposal.  She is stunned when he angrily refuses to do so.  Professor Allen’s outburst is just the first of several unsettling, even dangerous, encounters that Avery has as she pursues her research.  Avery is followed, her house is broken into, and  her best friend is put in peril.  Avery comes to see that she must heed the words of the ghost Elinor (yes, that Elinor) and trust no one as she pursues the truth about the Lost Colony.

Roanoke Vanishing is the first novel in the author’s Vanishing Series.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Dare, Historical, Mystery, Novels in Series, Orange, Piedmont, Seal, Auburn

Margaret Maron. Designated Daughters. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2014.

daughtersReaders of Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott series are used to Deborah’s large family, and Maron kindly helps readers to keep them straight by providing a family tree in recent books.  In Designated Daughters, Deborah’s Aunt Rachel briefly takes center stage.

Aunt Rachel has always been an easy going, neighborly person who made friends with many of the people who came to her vegetable stand.  Although never a gossip, Aunt Rachel has been privy to a lot of secrets.  Nearing death, she begins to unburden herself of some of those stories–not in a way her family understands but clearly enough to unnerve at least one listener.  When the family steps away from her room, someone smothers this sweet woman.

The family is both horrified and puzzled.  Even though Deborah has promised Dwight that she will not interfere in the homicide investigation, this is her family.  Deborah begins to match up some of her aunt’s ramblings with the stories of neighbors and kin.  A church man who hit his wife, a house fire that killed a mother and her young daughters, a cowbird egg, a revealing bathing suit–which one of these references would incite someone to murder a woman already in hospice care?  Through Deborah’s investigations, readers learn more about the Knotts family history while Deborah identifies the killer.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Coastal Plain, Maron, Margaret, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Elizabeth Spann Craig. A Body in the Backyard. United States: Elizabeth Spann Craig, 2013.

abodyinthebackyardOctogenarian Myrtle Clover has finally gotten her yardman, Dusty, and his wife Puddin over to work on her house in the fictional town of Bradley, North Carolina. Puddin might not make a great housemaid but Dusty does a good job on the yard, whenever they make it over to Myrtle’s. So, Myrtle’s excitement is dampened just a bit when Dusty discovers a body in her backyard. Of course this provides Myrtle with the perfect excuse to get some information on the case. But, it also gives Dusty and Puddin an excuse to stop their work. And Myrtle can’t help but be disappointed in herself for having no idea that a murder occurred in her own backyard.

Myrtle’s neighbor and closest friend Miles soon identifies the victim as his cousin Charles. Cousin Charles isn’t the kind of cousin you claim, he’s the black sheep that you hope never gets mentioned. Myrtle and Miles suspect that Charles had come back to Bradley to beg Miles for money. But Myrtle and Miles soon discover that there are a few people who would have had a motive to kill Cousin Charles, including a cuckolded husband, a scorned woman, and a protective father. When the protective father, Lee Woosley, turns up murdered in Myrtle’s backyard as well, Myrtle’s son, Red, starts to be concern for her safety at the house. In order to scuttle Red’s plan to send her to Greener Pastures Retirement Home, Myrtle knows she must solve this mystery fast. In their search for the murderer, Myrtle and Miles discover that Miles wasn’t the only one hiding his connection to Cousin Charles–there may be even more suspects to consider.

A Body in the Backyard is the fourth title in the Myrtle Clover Mysteries. Myrtle Clover has an uncanny talent for finding bodies in her small town, so it’s a good thing she also has the ability to solve these crimes.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Craig, Elizabeth Spann, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Elizabeth Spann Craig. Death at a Drop-In. United States: CreateSpace, 2013.

In the fictional town of Bradley, North Carolina, Myrtle Clover isn’t looking forward to attending “society matron,” Cosette Whitlow’s drop-in. Myrtle has only agreed to attend because her best friend, Miles, has asked her to come and deter the widows from descending upon him. As a lady in her 80s, Myrtle might not look too threatening, but at six feet tall and toting a cane, she can intimidate when she wants.

Cosette is always mentioning to Myrtle’s son Red how much her own mother enjoys living in Greener Pastures Retirement Home. If not talking about that, she’s bragging on how advanced her grandson is or trying to take over someone’s charity position. She kindly lends a hand throughout all of town, but there is nothing kindly about the way she deals with people. Myrtle and Miles hope to show their faces and head out soon afterwards. But, when the two walk in on a small spectacle in the kitchen involving Cosette, Felix, and an enraged Sybil, Myrtle’s interest is peaked. Is there an affair going on between Felix and Cosette?

However, things soon settle back down into boring sophistication and Miles and Myrtle are ready to make their exit. When the two can’t find Cosette to thank her, Cosette’s husband Lucas enlists them to help search her out. Myrtle discovers Cosette in the yard; she’s been hit over the head with a croquet mallet and Red, the chief of police, is called in. There are many suspects in this case and Myrtle is determined to investigate and write up the story for the town newspaper. There’s a new cub reporter in town though who might stand in her way. But, when a second murder occurs, Myrtle starts putting information together, and it looks like she’ll either end up with the scoop or in a grave of her own. How will Myrtle Clover work her way out of this one?

Death at a Drop-In is the fifth book in the Myrtle Clover Mystery series. Myrtle Clover remains just as sprightly as ever and is written proof that the young aren’t the only ones who can be the center of an exciting story.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Craig, Elizabeth Spann, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Donna Ball. High in Trial. Mountain City, GA: Blue Merle Publishing, 2013.

highintrial Book seven in the Raine Stockton Dog Mysteries opens in 1992 with a car wreck that was never reported, although later one of the drivers, Jeremiah Allen Berman, was arrested for a robbery-turned-murder. This leaves readers wondering what this scene will have to do with present-day events.

Continuing on, we discover that our heroes, Raine and her golden retriever Cisco, are in Pembroke, South Carolina for the opening weekend of AKC competitive agility trials. Raine and Cisco have trained all winter. They are up for their first event and the day is looking promising, especially since Miles, Raine’s boyfriend, has come out to support them. All is well until they reach the hardest part of the course for Cisco, the pause table, where a dog is required to “…come to a screeching halt on the table, stay perfectly still for five seconds, and then take off like lightning again on cue.” Cisco nails it! But, a miscalculation by either him or Raine leaves Raine flat on her back with a nosebleed. Nevertheless, Raine pushes through the rest of the course and the two earn their first blue ribbon of the competition. This victory is soon overshadowed by the discovery that one of the other competitors was brutally murdered in the night. It begins to look like corruption has infiltrated this world of sportsmanship.

Back home in Hansonville, North Carolina, Buck Lawson, Raine’s ex-husband, is acting sheriff since Sheriff Roe Bleckley, Raine’s uncle, has decided to retire after a heart attack. Roe’s mail still continues to be sent to the sheriff’s office and Buck stumbles upon a notification of the release of a felon named Jeremiah Berman. Such notifications are not routine. Buck’s interest is piqued; he soon learns that it was Raine’s father, Judge Stockton, who wanted to keep tabs on when Jermiah Berman was released. In his search to find out why Judge Stockton would have wanted this information, Buck learns that Berman had it out for Stockton and, with the judge’s death, has now turned his rage upon Raine. Reasoning why will lead to the unearthing of secrets that are sure to change Raine’s world forever.

In this seventh book in the series, the chapters alternate between Pembroke and Hansonville; readers will be engaged by both stories and looking forward to the discovery of how the two intertwine.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Ball, Donna, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places