Category Archives: Coast

4

Edward P. Norvell. Ocracoke between the Storms. Winston Salem, NC: Distributed by John F. Blair, 2013.

Ocracoke between the StormsFour months ago, Luke Harrison lost his wife of four years, Karen, in a fatal car accident. Without Karen, Luke cannot find much purpose in his life. Luke’s father died when he was a baby and his mother was incarcerated following her addiction to drugs, so he spent his adolescence drifting through foster homes. Karen was Luke’s closest and only true family. Wracked with grief, Luke drives from his home in Kannapolis to Ocracoke Island where he intends to end his suffering by drowning himself. But just as the rough whitecaps are dragging him under, an unexpected bystander rescues Luke from the freezing water. Hank Kilgo, a retired Coast Guard officer, is Luke’s savior. After Hank pulls Luke to safety, he insists that Luke rest for the night at his home with him and his wife, Cora.

Luke continues to stay with the Kilgo family much longer than his initial invitation. The natives welcome Luke unconditionally. Before he knows it, Luke is immersed in the area’s island culture and takes on odd jobs. Novelist Edward P. Norvell portrays the intimate community of Ocracoke with painstaking detail. Norvell’s Ocracoke is a vibrant small town brimming with special traditions such as the Ocracoke Festival, volunteer efforts like a radio station-sponsored bachelor auction, and of course, local politics concerning the invasive Park Service and their protection of the loggerhead turtle population. The most colorful town character is Thomas Michael Joiner or TMJ for short. TMJ and Luke are a union of opposites. Where Luke is humble and modest, TMJ is gregarious and brazen. Despite the pair’s differences, Luke and TMJ become close friends, and TMJ helps Luke feel at home in Ocracoke, particularly amongst the other single twentysomethings on the island.

Slowly but surely, Luke forms a lasting attachment to Ocracoke. At first he tries to keep the situation casual–from his living arrangements, to his employment, to even his love life. The fact that Luke develops a love life only a few months after Karen’s death confuses him. During the night, he dreams of Karen and copes with his guilt over her accident and what he might have done to prevent it. The idea of replacing Karen so quickly strikes Luke as callous. Whether Luke is aware or not, Ocracoke and its people restore meaning to his life and help Luke survive his heartbreak. Ocracoke between the Storms is a tale of redemption and moving past tragedy in life. Norvell has written three other novels, Southport, Shadows, and Portsmouth, all of which occur in coastal locations around the state. Clearly, Norvell derives a large amount of inspiration from the beaches of North Carolina.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Hyde, Norvell, Edward P., Romance/Relationship

Colleen Coble. Rosemary Cottage. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2013.

Rosemary CottageNovelist Colleen Coble has authored a second book in her bestselling Hope Beach Series. Interested readers should consult our blog post on the first novel, Tidewater Inn, if they would prefer to start from the beginning. However, Coble has written the novels so that readers can enjoy them independently from each other. Some familiar characters reappear in Rosemary Cottage, most notably, Libby Holladay, the archaeological historian and protagonist from Tidewater Inn. In this novel, Libby takes a backseat to Amy Lang. Amy has returned to the fictional Hope Island in the Outer Banks after her older brother Ben was killed in a surfing accident. She intends to stay at her family’s beach home, Rosemary Cottage, where she and Ben spent many blissful summers together.

Amy idolized Ben. She thought of her brother as a smart and hardworking man. Understandably then, the news of his recent death has left her in a state of shock. She has arrived at Rosemary Cottage under the pretense of mourning her brother and possibly relocating her successful midwife practice to the island, but she has another, hidden, agenda behind uprooting her former life. Amy received an anonymous e-mail claiming that her brother was murdered, and that he deserved his fate. Before the mysterious e-mail, Amy had her doubts about the accident. Ben was a strong swimmer and a skilled surfer. Police never recovered Ben’s body, but they did retrieve his shark-bitten surfboard. Even though the evidence indicated a simple and unfortunate accident, Amy believes a grimmer truth lurks beneath the surface.

Curtis Ireland, a Coast Guard officer on Hope Island, just lost his sister Gina in a devastating boating accident. Upon her death, Curtis became the guardian of Gina’s newborn daughter, Raine. Curtis is a dutiful uncle who loves his little niece dearly. He stepped up to the task of caring for Raine without any problems. That is, until Amy’s arrival. Curtis and his aunt Edith know the secret behind Raine’s parentage, and it could jeopardize their claim to Raine’s custody. Edith urges Curtis to approach Amy and reveal the secret, but Curtis is wary that Amy’s affluent family might barge in and wage a custody battle. Matters become more complicated when Amy approaches Curtis. She wants to investigate Ben’s death. Shortly after they partner up, they realize that Ben and Gina’s accidents might be interconnected. What they discover leads them to a tightly wound web of dark secrets and unexpected twists.

A romance between Amy and Curtis forms quickly, but the potential relationship is troubled almost immediately by the tension of uncovering harsh realities about Ben and Gina. Neither Amy nor Curtis want to see their beloved sibling in a negative light. Hostilities flare when Curtis suggests that Ben might not be the great man Amy believed him to be. Moreover, as Curtis feels increasingly attracted to Amy, she pushes him away. Amy possesses an unpleasant secret of her own, one that prevents her from growing closer to Curtis despite their clear chemistry. In the midst of their unofficial investigation, the island is busy with a campaigning senator and the arrival of an unusual new girl seeking work. Will Curtis and Amy uncover the truth with all the distractions and complications surrounding them? If they find the truth, will they regret that they went hunting for it in the first place?

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Coble, Colleen, Mystery, Romance/Relationship

Kathryn O’Sullivan. Foal Play. New York: Minotaur Books, 2013.

Foal PlayWho killed Myrtle Crepe? That’s the question lingering on the minds of the townspeople of Corolla. Not many people were fond of Myrtle. A retired schoolteacher and the despotic head of the Lighthouse Wild Horse Preservation Society, Myrtle was known for her terse and domineering manner. Myrtle made it difficult for anyone to like her. Even her son Bobby and her sole companion Nellie Byrd struggled to overlook her demanding attitude. But did someone hate Myrtle enough to want her dead?

Gruesome things have been turning up around Corolla lately. Immediately prior to Myrtle’s death, the burned body of a John Doe washed ashore. News of the murder entices Fire Chief Colleen McCabe into the beginning stages of the investigation despite well-meaning warnings for Colleen to mind her business from her best friend, Sheriff Bill Dorman. In the past, Colleen has demonstrated a tendency to conduct her own “unofficial” investigations without solicitation from the local police force.

With her tenacious Irish roots, Colleen is a tough protagonist, and definitely not one to be deterred from solving a mystery. She single-handedly whipped the firemen of Station 6 into shape and refused to tolerate any insubordination. Colleen is not afraid to go with her gut and get her hands dirty. With her trusty Border Collie, Sparky (who has a nose for sniffing out fire) alongside her, Colleen winds up at the center of all the action. Although she is in for a few bigger shocks than she could ever imagine.

Kathryn O’Sullivan is a first time novelist. With the offbeat characters, the coastal setting, and the wild horses, O’Sullivan emphasizes local color in Foal Play. She formulates many comedic encounters and interweaves them between more serious moments and surprising plot developments. Readers interested in mystery and and Outer Banks enthusiasts will enjoy this novel. Foal Play is a great read to get in the mood for summertime.

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

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Currituck, Mystery, O'Sullivan, Kathryn

Ellery Adams. Books by the Bay Mysteries.

When forty-something Olivia Limoges was looking to change her life she settled on the idea of moving back to her hometown of Oyster Bay, North Carolina.  The locals don’t exactly welcome her with open arms–she’s wealthy, grouchy, bossy, and has pretentious aspirations to be a writer.  It’s a rocky start for Olivia, but as the Books by the Bay series unfolds, Olivia makes a place for herself in Oyster Bay.  She joins a writing group and the members of the group become friends; she re-connects with her half-brother, joining him in the restaurant business; and  she may even have found a new love interest in the person of Sawyer Rawlings.

Olivia comes to know Rawlings because he is the town’s chief of police, and  Oyster Bay has an unusual number of murders, many of which touch Olivia in some way.  The victims include a gossip columnist looking into a wealthy local family, an author of historic novels, and a local “witch” who knows a secret about Olivia’s mother.  In each of these cozy mysteries, the murders reveal something about Olivia’s past or that of this seemingly-quiet little town.  Readers come to know Olivia and her backstory even as they enjoy her sleuthing–in which she is often aided by her poodle, Captain Haviland.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Adams, Ellery, Coast, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Series

Sherryl Woods. Sand Castle Bay. Don Mills, Ont.: Harlequin Mira, 2013.

sand castleEmily Castle and Boone Dorsett were sweethearts when Emily spent her summers at Sand Castle Bay.  Boone hoped that Emily would settle down with him, but the young woman wanted to pursue her dream of being an interior designer–not a viable career option in the little coastal town.  Boone eventually married someone else.

As Sand Castle Bay opens it has been ten years since the young lovers’ breakup.  Boone is a now restaurant owner and a widower with a young son.  Emily has become a successful decorator in Colorado, but she is called back to North Carolina when her grandmother’s restaurant is threatened by a major storm.  Emily’s grandmother, Cora Jane, has become close with Boone, each supporting the other in the difficult business of running a tourist-oriented business.  Cora Jane knows that Boone still has feelings for Emily and she finds ways to push the two of them together.  But other family members throw up obstacles–chiefly Emily’s sisters who love to interfere in their sister’s life and Boone’s mother-in-law who is possessive of her grandson and bitter about her daughter’s early death.  And personal matters are not the only impediments to a new beginning for Emily and Boone.  Boone’s business has taken off and he is adding restaurants in other states, and Emily has big jobs coming up in California and back in Colorado.  Sand Castle Bay gives readers a mature, realistic take on the rocky road to happily-ever-after.

 

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship, Woods, Sherryl

Stephen King. Joyland. London: Hard Case Crime, 2013.

JoylandJoyland is an amusement park in the business of selling fun – and that’s by the “seat-of-the-pants” fun not that “scripted” fun that Disney peddles to its customers, according to geriatric park owner, Bradley Easterbrook. Joyland has all the standard amusement park fare: rides, refreshments, a crackpot fortune-teller, a beloved mascot, and a haunted house. Except Joyland’s haunted house really is haunted. Or so twenty-one year-old Devin Jones is told. In the summer of 1969, Linda Gray spent the day at Joyland in the company of an unidentified male masked in sunglasses and a baseball cap with a bird tattoo on his hand. Later in the evening, the pair entered the Horror House together, only Linda never left. Linda’s companion slashed her throat and left her body inside, where it was discovered the next day. Four years later in 1973, the killer still roams free. Since the murder, employees have reported sightings of Linda’s ghost.

When Devin first hears the tale, he is more concerned with relaying it to his disinterested girlfriend Wendy Keegan than focusing on the lurid details. Wendy is the first thing on Devin’s mind and he is the furthest thing from hers. Devin eagerly fantasizes about his life with Wendy following their graduation from the University of New Hampshire. He dreams of a successful literary career and wedded bliss completed with a few kids running underfoot. His unquenched libido and earnest schoolboy devotion blind Devin from the fact that Wendy is slipping, or rather pushing, away from him. Wendy plans to work in Boston with a friend during the summer and she encourages Devin to take a job far away at Joyland in the small, fictional town of Heaven’s Bay, North Carolina. Their break-up is predictable, and Devin spends a good portion of his time ruminating on first love.

Then he becomes absorbed into the world of Joyland. He finds friends, “wears the fur,” learns the park lingo, and juggles a million menial tasks at once.  Howie the Happy Hound is Joyland’s mascot and all the Happy Helpers take turns in wearing the dog costume. During the summer, shifts are restricted to 15 minutes to prevent heatstroke. Devin, though, dons the suit repeatedly. Despite the discomfort, he discovers an unexpected enthusiasm for wearing the costume and exciting children at the park. Reflecting back on his time at Joyland, Devin muses that no job has satisfied him as deeply as dressing as Howie and dancing the Hokey Pokey.

Veteran novelist Stephen King establishes a convincing atmosphere in Joyland with his use of colorful carny slang. The book features a pulpy cover design and is marketed as a hardboiled crime novel, although Devin is an inadvertent sleuth rather than a jaded detective. Joyland is a bildungsroman meets murder mystery. King’s focus is less on the horror and gore and more on Devin’s maturation. Solving Linda Gray’s murder just falls on the laundry list of Devin’s pivotal summer of development. By deemphasizing the mystery aspect of the novel, Joyland becomes a more dimensional story and quite an exhilarating ride of a read.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, King, Stephen, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Sherryl Woods. Wind Chime Point. Don Mills, Ont: Harlequin Mira, 2013.

Wind Chime PointAfter successful PR maven Gabriella Castle winds up pregnant and unemployed, her entire life plan is blown off course. Gabi is a workaholic who has devoted herself to her position at a biomedical company. Her determination stems from a need to impress her disinterested father, Sam Castle, who has established himself the biomedical industry as an esteemed figure. Their relationship is strained, and Gabi is nervous about what her morally upright father will think of her condition. Before her pregnancy and her layoff Gabi set her ambitions to climbing the corporate ladder and landing a vice-presidency within the company. But those dreams seem impossibly distant from her reach, which is difficult for Gabi to handle. Gabi is a sensible planner and she feels adrift without structure guiding her life.

The father of Gabi’s child and her boyfriend of five years, Paul Langley, expresses shock at the news and distances himself from the situation. Paul is a slick professional with little desire for starting a family. Now that the ties of Gabi’s former life in Raleigh have loosened, she returns to Sand Castle Bay on the coast of North Carolina at the urging of her older sister Samantha. Gabi’s younger sister, Emily, is engaged and in the throes of wedding planning and Samantha coaxes Gabi to join them for a reprieve from the hectic upheaval in her life. Gabi cautiously agrees to the vacation; her sisters and her grandmother, Cora Jane, tend to meddle with match-making. Gabi knows just who they intend to pair her up with and she is not interested in entering into a new relationship with anyone, not even the patient and gallant Wade Johnson.

Wade Johnson has harbored feelings for Gabi since he first met her. Gabi’s sisters and grandmother believe that Wade is a perfect partner for Gabi, but she remains stubbornly resolute that she can handle her present situation alone and discusses plans to give her baby up for adoption. For Wade, family is an essential and precious element for happiness, and one that he is sadly lacking. Two years ago his pregnant wife Kayla was killed in an accident. Wade still experiences trauma from the ordeal and refuses to communicate his emotions on the topic. Instead, he acts as a devoted uncle to his sister Louise’s five children. He spends time with the kids while Louise runs her law firm and her husband Zack stays busy at his medical practice. As much as he loves his nieces and nephews, he feels jealous of Louise and Zack’s family and depressed by his lost opportunity to start a family of his own.

When Gabi and Wade bump into each other only somewhat unintentionally at Castle’s by the Sea, a local restaurant owned by the Castle family, Wade’s “knight-in-shining-armor side of his nature” emerges. He does not care that Gabi is pregnant. In fact, he finds her as beautiful as ever and becomes determined to help her recover from the recent blows of her pregnancy and her unemployment and to find a new purpose in her life. Wade hopes that whatever direction Gabi embarks on will include him as well. Initially, Gabi accepts Wade’s support and friendship with reluctance, and she stipulates from the beginning that the relationship will only be platonic. After plenty of confusion and self-reflection, Gabi reconsiders what she wants out of life. When Gabi’s old boss offers to rehire her, she is suddenly not so sure that she is ready to leave Sand Castle Bay.

Wind Chime Point is the second work in a series of three books by popular novelist Sherryl Woods. The Ocean Breeze series concentrates on the lives of the Castle sisters: Samantha, Gabriella, and Emily. In Wind Chime Point, Woods splits the perspective between Wade and Gabi. Woods exposes the nuance in the thoughts and actions of her two main characters. By switching between the voices of Gabi and Wade, Woods shows the disparity between what they say versus what they actually feel. Woods’ story presents a great depth of feeling and cements the importance of family, particularly during the hardest of times.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship, Woods, Sherryl

Stephen March. Hatteras Moon. New York: Köehlerbooks, 2013.

hatterasJack Delaney and Virgil Gibson became friends in high school, when star athlete Jack noticed Virgil’s dedication to the football team, even though Virgil would always be just a bench warmer.  Jack and Virgil did some dumb, crazy things together–like jumping off the bridge over Oregon Inlet.  But after high school they went their separate ways: Jack to Vietnam and Virgil to college.  Jack was injured in Vietnam and came back to the Outer Banks to be a fisherman like his dad.

But Jack remained a dare devil, and before long Jack began using the trawler he inherited from his father to smuggle marijuana.  Soon Jack has a large house on the beach, additional property, and a life that suits him, if not the government.  Meanwhile, Virgil has grown dissatisfied with his life.  Teaching undergraduates at a small college has lost its allure, and his marriage has grown stale.  More than a decade after high school, Virgil returns to Hatteras Island for the summer to re-assess his life.

Looking up his old friend Jack is among the first things that Virgil does.  Jack’s life looks attractive, even though Jack has money problems and is being threatened by one of his business associates.  Ever one to take a risk, Jack branches out into a new endeavor, one that brings him in contact with dangerous men with a different agenda.  When a simple shrimping trip turns deadly, Virgil plunges into a dangerous game of revenge.

Hatteras Moon is set in the late 1980s and some readers will be reminded of the Iran-Contra Affair by certain plot elements.  But a knowledge of Reagan-era foreign policy is not necessary to understand this dark tale of greed, loyalty, and revenge.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Dare, March, Stephen, Mystery

Ellery Adams. Written in Stone. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2012.

Written in StoneWhen Oyster Bay’s gossipy diner proprietor Dixie relays a message to Olivia Limoges from the reclusive witch of Oyster Bay, Olivia laughs it off as a bunch of hocus-pocus and horoscopes. The witch, Munin Cooper, wants Olivia to pay her a visit. Olivia is a successful restaurateur and aspiring author. She is a woman who takes care of herself and her constant companion, Captain Haviland, a standard poodle. However, when Olivia discovers that Munin Cooper inexplicably knows a private detail about her deceased mother she decides to brave the journey across the swamp to hear out the witch’s message.

According to local lore, the witch requires her visitors to relinquish their most precious belongings in exchange for her help. Most of Munin’s visitors are just desperate enough to part with their possessions. Tucked away in her shack, Munin embeds those trinkets and mementos into memory jugs. A memory jug serves as “a scrapbook made with found objects” that represent an individual’s life. Munin is an eerie figure. A member of the Lumbee Indian tribe, she lives in primitive but self-sufficient isolation and decorates herself with jewelry fashioned from teeth and small animal bones. She warns Olivia that death surrounds her and that she should protect herself and her friends before any terrible events occur. To help her fend off death, Munin gives Olivia her final memory jug. Despite her otherworldly wisdom, Munin does not realize that death will seek her out first. A park ranger finds her drowned in a stream shortly after Olivia’s visit.

After she learns of Munin’s passing, Olivia refuses to believe that the witch died from natural causes, so she urges Police Chief Rawlings to examine the case further. Because Munin lived in a different county, Rawlings cannot influence the ruling of accidental death. But Olivia knows it was murder and she has all the evidence she needs to solve the crime thanks to the memory jug. In order to identify the killer, she must first understand the relationships among the keepsakes in the jug. With the Coastal Carolina Food Festival gearing up, Olivia is overwhelmed with her restaurant, The Boot Top Bistro. Yet with her life and the lives of her friends in question, she juggles supervising her business and sleuthing a murder. As the web of connections grows clear and clearer, Olivia is shocked by what she unearths.

Novelist Ellery Adams delivers another absorbing mystery for her “Books by the Bay” series. Adams tantalizes her audience with snippets of Olivia’s mysterious back story. She supplies an enigmatic mix of details that will leave readers curious for the full explanation. Moreover, her lush descriptions of food are enough to make your mouth water and your stomach growl. This book should probably be read on a full stomach. For readers interested in more, consult three of the Read North Carolina Novels previous blog posts on Adams’ work: A Killer Plot, A Deadly Cliché, and The Last Word.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Adams, Ellery, Coast, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

George Foster Leal. The Lost Colony of Roanoke. Saratoga Village, CA: Bedside Books, 2012.

As a young man, Don Robeson lived a life of action and danger.  For six years he was a Navy Seal and he honed his skills on some very dark missions during the Iraq War.  But in many ways Don’s character was set during his college years, when Professor Archibald Caulder turned him on to archaeology, and his roommate Johnny showed him how much he didn’t know about women.  Now, at thirty-five, Don is a professor at UNC, lecturing, writing papers, and looking forward to summers when he can be out in the field on a dig.

As this novel opens, Don has just received a phone call from Professor Caulder.  His mentor has been working at a dig site in Manteo, North Carolina.  Caulder has unearthed an old journal–so old that it may be from the Lost Colony.  Now that’s the kind of news that get Don in his car fastOver cognac, Don and Caulder examine the book. Could it be that this is really Ananias Dare’s journal? Caulder has not shown it to anyone working at his dig.  Instead he intrust the book to Don, asking him to get it authenticated–and to get away from Manteo.

Driving back to his beach house in Swan Quarter, Don wonders what to make of his old teacher–Is the book for real?  Is Caulder unnecessarily paranoid about the other researchers at the dig site?  Before the dawn breaks, both questions are answered.  As Don reads the journal, he sees the names one expects and observations and situations that ring true.  He falls asleep thinking about the year 1587, but he is abruptly awakened by a phone call from highway patrol telling him that Caulder has died in a house fire.  Before Don can process the news, two strange cars pull in and block his driveway. Don’s Seal training saves his life, as he slips out the backdoor before his house goes up in flames.

So begins this adventure tale.  Don Robeson will be on the run, barely one step of well-funded killers who want the journal.  He is aided in his adventure Caulder’s beautiful daughter, by his college buddy Johnny, and by a backwoods woman named Ginny Dare.  Not everyone is what they appear to be in a story that has several twist and turns.  History buff will enjoy the excerpts from the journal which reveal the challenges that the colonist faced–and their eventual fate.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coast, Dare, Historical, Hyde, Leal, George Foster, Suspense/Thriller