Category Archives: Suspense/Thriller

Donna Ball. Gun Shy. New York: Signet, 2007.

Book three in the Raine Stockton Dog Mysteries has all the elements that made the first two such great reads: murder, mystery, and of course, adorable dogs.

Every fall, the tourists flock to picturesque Hanover County in the mountains of North Carolina. They buy local crafts, hike on the trails, and generally annoy the locals. But one tourist has created more of a calamity than usual: Michelle White is found dead in the cabin she rented with her husband, presumably by her own hand. Her husband is nowhere to be found, and her hysterical dog (who has been trapped for days without food or water) won’t let the sheriff’s department retrieve her body. Luckily, the sheriff’s niece is Raine Stockton, whose whole life is devoted to training and understanding dogs. Raine calms the terrified yellow lab, expecting to find an ordinary family pet, but Hero (as she decides to call him) is something else entirely.

Michelle was partially paralyzed, and Hero was her service dog. Trained by an expert agency, Hero can fetch phones, turn on lights, and open doors. But why would Michelle White kill herself and leave her dog to fend for himself for four days? Most of all, how could she kill herself by holding the gun in her paralyzed right arm? Raine and her energetic golden retriever companion, Cisco, are soon on the trail of a murderer. But distractions get in the way–a bothersome new neighbor, her (sort of) ex-husband Buck, and Cisco himself, who likes nothing more than a bit of mayhem. Raine doesn’t see the danger until it’s right in front of her nose, and by then, it might be too late.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Ball, Donna, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

Donna Ball. Rapid Fire. New York: Signet, 2006.

As we open on the second book in the Raine Stockton dog mysteries, the titular heroine is happy enough– her kennel business is doing well, her dogs are happy, and her part-time job with the Forest Service in small Hansonville, North Carolina provides just enough extra cash to keep life comfortable. Even her relationship with her estranged husband, Deputy Buck Lawson, is going as well as can be expected. That is, until said husband shows up on her doorstep with an agent from the FBI. Since Buck is with the local Sheriff’s Department, the situation isn’t all that strange, but it quickly turns personal: the FBI is looking for Andy Fontana, and they think Raine knows his whereabouts.

Back in their college days, environmentally-conscious Andy used to be Buck’s best friend and Raine’s boyfriend. In fact, she almost married him instead of Buck, until he disappeared under the shadow of a terrible act of eco-terrorism that left several people dead. The FBI were never able to locate him, but now they think he might be returning to Hansonville. Raine never believed that Andy was guilty, but things start looking bad: a local construction worker turns up murdered, some bulldozers are vandalized, and Raine starts receiving what might be messages from her erstwhile beau. When a forest fire breaks out, it’s up to Raine and the one companion who has never abandoned her, the faithful golden retriever Cisco, to join the manhunt and finally find out the truth.

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

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Filed under Ball, Donna, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

Elizabeth Flock. What Happened to My Sister. New York: Ballentine Books, 2012.

Carrie Parker, age nine, and her mother Libby are leaving Hendersonville, North Carolina. Before they drive away, Libby makes her daughter promise never to talk about anything that happened there, and to remember that her sister, Emma, was just an imaginary friend she made up. But Carrie knows better– Emma was real, until something bad happened.

After moving down into the foothills, Carrie and her mother eke out a miserable existence at a motel in the fictional Hartsville, where Libby is often too intoxicated or too busy with her boyfriends to even feed her daughter. The little girl lives on paper and stolen food, until entirely by accident, she meets the Chaplin family. Ruth, Honor, and Cricket Chaplin are three generations living under the same roof. Living in a comfortable house filled with memorabilia dedicated to their famous relative, Charlie, the Chaplin women nevertheless have their own struggles. Cricket’s sister, Caroline, passed away only a short while ago from cancer, and it has torn her parents apart. Honor, Cricket’s mother, thinks that she’s hallucinating that day in the Wendy’s when she sees the little girl stealing from the salad bar– she’s the spitting image of her Caroline. When she discover’s Carrie’s name, she knows that she has to keep this unloved, sad little girl in her life. This conviction will change her and her family’s life, and will help Carrie discover what actually happened to the sister she’s sure she didn’t imagine.

A simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting story about family, blood ties, and what’s most important in life, Elizabeth Flock has written a beautiful story that gets at the heart of child abuse. Told from the dual perspectives of Honor Chaplin and Carrie Parker, it is an intricately woven tale that both surprises and satisfies.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Buncombe, Flock, Elizabeth, Henderson, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

David Goodwillie. American Subversive. New York: Scribner, 2011.

Aidan Cole is only thirty-three, but his privileged existence in New York City has become an embittered one. Roorback (a word meaning a false or slanderous story used for political advantage) is the digital baby that has brought so much heaviness to his once idealistic life. A blog devoted to gossip and news, all served up with a healthy amount of disdainful sarcasm, Roorback was invented and is maintained by Aidan to great success, but it has now taken up so much room in his world that he has nowhere to go but deeper into his own malaise and disinterest. Even a mysterious explosion above world-famous Barneys quickly fades into the background of his routine. Outside of Roorback, Aidan’s life is a mixture of hip parties and expensive dinners with his fashionable Times columnist girlfriend Cressida. Then, someone sends him a brief but electrifying email: a photograph of a young woman walking away from the smoking explosion over Barneys, accompanied by a single sentence: This is Paige Roderick. She’s the one responsible.

Spurred into action, Aidan sets out to find the mysterious Paige Roderick…and stumbles into a world of secrets, eco-warriors, and fanatics. Set partially in North Carolina, American Subversive is a gripping portrait of a generation whose greatest enemy is its own boredom. Through the eyes of two very different but strikingly similar individuals, Goodwillie’s tale chronicles their efforts to develop meaningful voices and find anything in which to believe in a disinterested, mortally hip world.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Goodwillie, David, Haywood, Mountains, Suspense/Thriller

Douglas Quinn. The Webb Sawyer Mysteries.

Webb Sawyer threw away his career as a military investigator when he shot a Serbian war lord in his jail cell.  Now Webb is separated from the United States Army and living in the remote Outer Banks community of Blue Heron Marsh. The ex-soldier is looking forward to a quiet life of fishing and boating that will allow him to put his personal demons behind him.  But the community around him has its demons too, and when his neighbors encounter trouble they turn to Webb knowing that they’ll need his investigative skills and fearlessness. The cases they ask his help with show him again the darker elements of human nature–racism, sexual obsession, greed, the thirst for revenge. People are not always what they appear to be, and the linkage between the present and the past is not always a pleasant one.  Interwoven with the search for sexual predators, serial killers, and the like are the ins-and-outs of Webb’s daily life–his attempts to develop a better relationship with his son, his on-again, off-again romance with a local pub owner, and his enjoyment of the water and natural beauty in this little part of the North Carolina coast.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2010-2019, Coast, Mystery, Novels in Series, Quinn, Douglas, Series, Suspense/Thriller

Maurice Stanley. Midwinter: A Novel of the Frankie Silver Murder. Wilmington, NC: Whittler’s Bench Press, 2007.

History tells us that Frances “Frankie” Silver of Morganton, North Carolina, murdered her husband Charlie during a fight in late December of 1831. According to Frankie, Charlie Silver had been loading his musket in a jealous rage at the time in order to kill her.  Perhaps it is the whim of fate, and the expediency of axes over that of early 19th century firearms, that Frankie lived and Charlie died. Although the murderess attempted to conceal her actions, it’s said that she regretted his death bitterly. Eventually, however, Charlie’s family found her out, and Frankie was executed by hanging in the summer of 1833.

Maurice Stanley’s account of this infamous tale, long part of North Carolina mountain lore, is part historical fact, part fictional characterization, and part ghost story. He takes the perspective of various persons reputedly involved in the affair, including that of Frankie and Charlie’s families, the ill-fated couple themselves, and local law enforcement. He renders an imaginative retelling of this well-known classic, and provides a comprehensive list of resources for anyone interested in the historical accounts. But one thing will never be settled by reading newspaper stories or first-hand reports: do the vengeful ghosts of Frankie and Charlie Silver still walk the earth to this day?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. For more information on Frankie Silver and her story, come by the North Carolina Collection and discover our historical sources, including the official court record from the Morganton News-Herald.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Burke, Historical, Mountains, Stanley, Maurice, Suspense/Thriller

Brenda Tetreault. The Bounty Cove Chronicles.

Bounty Cove is a small (fictional) town on the North Carolina coast. Like many other towns along the Outer Banks, it’s full of kind, proud people whose families have called this bit of shore home for generations. But unlike other towns, Bounty Cove is also a locus of unexplained phenomena and paranormal activity. Ghosts, mind control, reincarnation– it’s all in a day’s work for the residents of Bounty Cove. A series of paranormal romances designed for an audience over the age of 18, each novel begins when a girl meets a boy, but after that, readers should abandon all their assumptions regarding traditional courtship. Supernatural forces work to keep the couples apart, and to destroy their lives and families. Is love enough to prevail when someone’s demons don’t exist only in his or her mind, but in the physical world? There is plenty of mutual attraction between each couple featured, but the series does remind readers that an invisible problem can separate two people in love. In Bounty Cove, the problem just happens to be supernatural in nature more often than not!
While each book features a different love story, many characters reappear across the series. By the end of the Chronicles, readers might feel as though they themselves live in Bounty Cove, although hopefully without the vengeful spirits.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2010-2019, Coast, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Series, Suspense/Thriller, Tetreault, Brenda

Barbara Arntsen. High on the Hog: A Peri Mason Mystery. United States: CreateSpace, 2012.

Reporter Periwinkle “Peri” Mason is looking forward to a relaxing Carolina fall. Earlier in the year she narrowly avoided becoming a victim while unexpectedly solving a slew of murders on Myrtle Beach, and in her opinion, once was enough. Unfortunately, the universe has other plans for the tough journalist from fictional Lofton, North Carolina.

While walking along the Neuse River in Wayne County near Lofton, Peri’s spirited Jack Russell terrier discovers something truly grisly– a body floating in the shallows. The corpse is that of Curtis Ganner, who was missing for several days. Mysteriously, his truck was found miles upriver, making murder the likely cause of his demise. Curtis worked for the McKeel Processing Plant, which is one of the largest pork producers in eastern North Carolina. The plant’s human fatality rate begins to rise when another missing employee is also found murdered. When a third victim’s head is found among some porcine remains, Peri can’t help herself– she starts investigating.

As she digs into the soft underbelly of the pork industry the intrepid reporter finds not only murder, but industrial espionage. Soon she is knee-deep in pig excrement (literally and figuratively), and more in danger than ever. Will Peri make it out alive this time?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Arnsten, Barbara, Coastal Plain, Duplin, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller, Wayne

Colleen Coble. Tidewater Inn. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012.

Libby Holladay is an archaeological historian. Together with her business partner Nicole, she restores historical properties for their wealthy new owners. More than anything, Libby wants to own one of the houses to which she devotes her time and expertise, but at millions of dollars, they are far beyond her means. That is, until Nicole travels to a small island called Hope Island off the coast of North Carolina, where she makes a startling discovery about Libby’s family.

When Libby was growing up, her mother always told her that her father died when she was five. But when Nicole mentions Libby’s name to a local attorney assisting with the acquisition of some property, he wastes no time in informing her that he’s been searching for a Libby Holladay for months. Ray Mitchell, Libby’s father, did not die when she was five, but lived on Hope Island until his death just a few months ago. In his will, Ray left his estranged daughter a rundown but historic building, the Tidewater Inn, which stands on a substantial piece of land. Libby is stunned and delighted by her new good fortune, but even more important to her is the discovery that she has two half-siblings. Unfortunately Brent and Vanessa are are neither thrilled to discover they have an older half-sister, nor glad that their father left her what they see as a substantial part of their inheritance. Brent in particular had big plans for the property, involving sale to a major developer who would turn Hope Island from a remote fishing town without access to the mainland into the next Ocracoke.

It seems as though Brent’s plans are foiled by Libby’s inheritance, but things aren’t going to well for Libby, either. Nicole is kidnapped by some rough looking men, and a hurricane is bearing down on the Outer Banks. Will she find Nicole in time? And will the Tidewater Inn survive the storm? Most importantly, will Libby mend the bad blood between her and her newly found siblings, and finally have the family she’s always wanted?

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coast, Coble, Colleen, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Suspense/Thriller

Shirley Lerch Crum. Nailed!!! Baltimore, MD: PublishAmerica, 2006.

Cathy Cleveland and her best friend Linda Tate almost died last summer when they inadvertently got involved in a diamond smuggling scheme.  Since then Linda has been living life to its fullest, and she is about to be married to dapper airline captain David Sokol.  Cathy has a wonderful man in her life, handsome FBI agent Peter Channing, but she is keeping him at arm’s length.  As a cancer survivor, Cathy is aware that that life can take some cruel turns, so she is reluctant to let Peter, whose wife died from cancer, know how she feels about him.

John Marley has provided Cathy with a nice diversion.  Marley is a visiting professor at the college where Cathy teaches, and she enjoys his company when he is in town.  But Professor Marley is out of town quite a bit, guest lecturing at a number of colleges in the Carolinas.  He’s quite the showman, demonstrating scientific principles in exciting lectures that sometimes include walking on hot coals or lying on a bed of nails.  As this novel opens, Cathy goes by campus to pick up Marley so that they can spend the evening together.  She finds that Marley has been murdered–someone tampered with his bed of nails.

As the person who found the body, Cathy is a suspect.  But Cathy saw Peter Channing on campus shortly before Marley’s murder, and she fears that he might have been jealous enough of Marley to kill him.  The mutual distrust prevents Cathy and Peter from cooperating, and puts Cathy and Linda in danger.  John Marley’s academic career was just a cover for a sinister conspiracy to destroy a number of beach communities.  In chapters that alternate between Cathy’s activities and those of the conspirators, author Crum reveals the details of the conspiracy, the self-interests and double-dealing of the conspirators, and the reasons that Cathy’s life is in danger.  The action-packed finish takes place during the Wrightsville Beach Holiday Flotilla.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Coast, Crum, Shirley Lerch, New Hanover, Suspense/Thriller