Category Archives: Coastal Plain


Richard Folsom. Indian Wood. [United States: BookSurge?], 2009.

Is it possible that three people were murdered because of something they found on an old reel of microfilm?  That’s what newspaperman Luther Surles wants to find out in this mystery that moves between the Court of Queen Elizabeth I and present day Greenville and Lumberton, North Carolina.

Carl Burden and Luther Surles met when they were covering a Klan rally in Robeson County in 1958. Carl was a cub reporter; Luther had been a newspaperman for a few years.  Luther stayed in journalism, but Carl went to graduate school and eventually became a history professor at East Carolina University.  Carl’s research interest is the Lost Colony and a possible connection between the colonists and the Lumbee Tribe.

Carl’s new graduate student, the lovely Roberta Locklear, is also interested in a Lost Colony-Lumbee connection, and soon both Carl’s research and his love life heat up.  But Roberta has her own history, and Luther begins to suspect that some piece of that ties into Carl’s murder.  This novel moves weaves stories of the wars, exploitation, and double-dealing of earlier centuries with a very twenty-first century story of property development and greed.  As a bonus, the book contains a novel-within-a-novel–Carl’s historical novella on the Lost Colony.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coast, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Dare, Folsom, Richard, Greene, Historical, Mystery, Robeson

Dixie Land. Return to Serenity. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2007.

Maggie and Ross Harrington, the main characters in Land’s previous novel, Serenity, are back in this sequel, Return to Serenity.  Maggie and Ross are now married, and they are raising Maggie’s son, Tyler, as their child even though Tyler’s father is Maggie’s dishonest, drug-abusing ex-fiancé, Michael.  Maggie and Ross are happy–they have become a true family and the network of friends evident in the first novel are present in this one too.  Because friends Caroline and Charlie are willing to mind little Tyler, Maggie and Ross are able to slip away for a romantic vacation in the Caribbean.

That vacation is Maggie and Ross’s last moment of bliss before problems from the past come back for another assault on the couple. Ross’s ex-wife Melanie has cancer, and she asks Ross and Maggie to take in her daughter (who is not Ross’s child).  Melanie’s request opens old wounds, but Melanie is not a threatening or frightening person, as is Tyler’s father, Michael.  Michael will stop at nothing to get Maggie and Tyler back. As in the past, Michael manipulates Maggie’s friends to get information on her, and while he appears to be using the courts to get Tyler, that is just a way to distract Maggie while he puts his true plan in motion.


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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coastal Plain, Land, Dixie, Suspense/Thriller

Edward Vaughn. A Bite of the Apple. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2010.

Mike Dawson has it all: a doting wife, Diane, three healthy and happy children, and a successful career as a pastor in a growing church. Although he grew up being neglected by his alcoholic and abusive parents, Mike is providing a different environment for his family. This all changes when his affairs with congregation members, including the church organist, come to light.

Although Diane and his children want nothing to do with him, Mike seeks treatment for his sex addiction in the hope that they will one day accept him. He experiences lapses and periods of extreme self-pity, but Mike eventually is able to control his obsession. When Mike and Diane’s older son dies tragically in a car accident, the family is reunited in their sorrow.

Although the Dawsons experience unimaginable pain, their shared experiences help them to confront other issues–including teen pregnancy and a diagnosis of HIV–with each other’s love, support, and understanding.

A Bite of the Apple is the fifth novel in Edward Vaughn’s “Cumberland County Series.”

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship, Vaughn, Edward

Dixie Land. Serenity. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2003.

After she finds her fiancé with another woman, Maggie Thornton decides to bail out of the life she’s been living.  With no specific plans, she packs up her belongings and heads south.  Only because she needs a break, she stops in the little (fictitious) town of Serenity, North Carolina.  The good people of Serenity welcome Maggie, and soon she has a place to stay, a job, friends, and a new love.  But Maggie’s past comes back to threaten her happiness when her ex-fiancé attempts to push his way back into her life, abusing the trusting nature of Maggie’s friends to keep tabs on her and to subvert her new romance.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Coastal Plain, Land, Dixie, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

Andrea Johnson. Blood of My Blood. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2009.

Samantha thought her life was on the upswing when she was adopted from an orphanage by Janet and Paul Rivers who brought her to live with them and their two children in Jacksonville, North Carolina.  Samantha began to blossom, making good grades and becoming a cheerleader.  But suddenly bad things began to happen in Jacksonville–poisonings, accidents, explosions, murders.  As this supernatural thriller opens, Samantha is on the run with Jason, a young drifter to whom Samantha has given her heart.  The two young people know that the violence in Jacksonville wasn’t random and that an evil force is coming for Samantha. Their journey takes them to Charlotte and then on to New York City where they learn they must go back to the small town of Melrose, North Carolina so that Samantha can find out who she really is.  Before the novel is over, readers will read the stories of Samantha’s mother and grandmother and learn Jason’s true nature.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coastal Plain, Horror, Johnson, Andrea, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Onslow

Edward Vaughn. The Forgiven. New York: Xlibris, 2007.

Kathleen Kelley grew up in a sheltered and deeply religious family in Omaha, Nebraska. Her strict parents placed well-intended expectations on her, and their daughter grew up to be very naive. When Kathleen follows her boyfriend to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, she cuts ties with her family and entrusts her future to someone she does not know very well. He quickly proves to be a poor choice, and Kathleen soon finds herself alone and penniless. She begins dancing and becomes a cocaine addict, eventually prostituting herself.

Although Kathleen is miserable at the turn in her life, she finds a glimmer of hope in her daughter. Sadly, one of her johns violates her trust and kidnaps her child, molesting the girl before killing her. Kathleen is heartbroken, but the police and media rapidly condemn her as the murderer. She does not refute her negligence, but Kathleen venomously denies committing the heinous murder.

Though most people in Cumberland County persecute Kathleen, her public defender does not believe that someone who had previously trained to become a nun would later kill her daughter. He works to clear her name and to find the criminal; he also falls in love with his client. Throughout her ordeal, Kathleen must find the strength to forgive herself for her past life in order to start anew as an exonerated citizen and loved wife.

The Forgiven is the second novel in Edward Vaughn’s “Cumberland County Series.”

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller, Vaughn, Edward

Keith Spence. The Blood of Saints. Winterville, NC: Shadow Line Press, 2009.

Law enforcement is not an easy job. Especially when dealing with criminals who will kill. Or when the offenders are high-level politicians, government officials, and business executives. Add money, national security, and ego to the mix, and police work is a very dangerous field. For Mike Saville of the F.B.I. and Lowri Pritchard of the U.S. Park Police, these are moot points. Both individuals will test the limits of their careers in order to get to the bottom of difficult cases.

Although Saville and Pritchard do not know each other, they are working on the same case. A series of suspicious deaths, officially ruled suicides, occur both in Saville’s (fictional) Kendall County (near Pitt County), North Carolina, and Pritchard’s Washington, D.C. Because the victims’ autopsies suggest self-inflicted wounds, the cases are supposed to be off-limits to Saville and Pritchard. However, they believe that something more sinister has occurred. By the time their victims’ connections unite the officers, each is in the midst of a perilous situation. Saville is beginning to uncover a multimillion dollar anti-terrorism deal gone bad, and Pritchard has connected a colleague to the killings and cover-ups involved in that tainted agreement. The information that they share with each other makes them even more unsafe. When Pritchard’s co-worker discovers what she has unearthed, he holds her captive and tortures her. Saville comes to her rescue. Their agencies officially get involved, and the criminals are arrested. Saville and Pritchard’s perseverance helps them get to the bottom of high-stakes crimes, protect national security, and find each other.

Some readers may be uncomfortable with Spence’s graphic descriptions throughout the novel. The torture scene is especially disturbing.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coastal Plain, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Pitt, Spence, Keith, Suspense/Thriller

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

Margaret Maron. Christmas Mourning. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2010.

It’s the week before Christmas and Judge Deborah Knott is in good spirits. Her judicial docket appears to be routine and she is looking forward to participating in the holiday activities of the extended Knott clan.  The first anniversary of Deborah’s marriage to sheriff’s deputy Dwight Bryant is just days away.  They are happier than ever, and Dwight’s son, Cal, has started to warm up to Deborah.  Cal is also becoming friends with some of Deborah’s nieces and nephews.

All the youngsters, and most of community, are thrown for a loss when Mallory Johnson, one of the golden girls at West Colleton High, dies in a single car accident.  Mallory was the homecoming queen, a cheerleader, and a fine student.  She also had a reputation as a good girl—someone who resisted the temptations of drinking, drugs, and casual sex.  Mallory’s parents are shocked when they learn that she had alcohol and a drug in her system when she died.  They press the sheriff’s office to investigate the party that Mallory attended before the crash.

As Dwight investigates Mallory and her circle of friends, he finds that Mallory was not quite the girl her parents thought.  Still, Dwight is ambivalent about continuing the investigation.  The department has been trying to a catch meth cooker in the county, and this seems a bigger issue than what Mallory was doing in the hours before her accident.  Soon even the meth investigation becomes a lesser priority when two young men are gunned down outside a trailer out in the county.  The two brothers were from a very different social sphere than the Johnsons, yet Dwight must look for connections between their deaths and Mallory’s when he learns that the younger brother claimed to be Mallory’s boyfriend.

As in so many of the Judge Deborah Knott novels, the present is strongly connected to the past, and the deaths this sad December lead Dwight to reexamine an accident that occurred almost twenty years ago. While Dwight and Deborah piece the puzzle together, they (and the reader) enjoy some of the holiday get-togethers (and a few surprises) that make up the Christmas season in Colleton County.

This is the sixteenth novel in the Judge Deborah Knott series

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

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

Kathy Reichs. Spider Bones. New York: Scribner, 2010.

Most of the action in this latest Temperance Brennan novel takes places in Hawaii, but the case originates in the actions of two young men in Lumberton, North Carolina in the 1960s.  Authorities in Quebec are puzzled as to  how an American soldier thought to have died in the Vietnam War could turn up a corpse in Canada  forty years later. Tempe Brennan is called in.  Her visit to the man’s father will introduce readers to Lumberton, but the Vietnam War and drug smuggling are the true subjects of the novel.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Coastal Plain, Mystery, Novels in Series, Reichs, Kathy, Robeson