- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
"You'd better go easy on that breakfast buffet, Hunter. I need you in Pender County at Ivanhoe. I'm told it's a gruesome scene on Black River. Prepare yourself," said Kent Poletti, my supervisor. He'd spotted me slugging down my morning coffee and juice at the Grand Marquis Hotel breakfast buffet.
He tugged my arm, leading me away from the crowded 2008 North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Conference meeting room. Poletti's voice sounded ragged, his face looked tired and stressed, and I couldn't help but notice he had started to gray since I last saw him. "Law enforcement has been told to rope off and wait for you and the coroner. And aren't you from that area anyway?"
"I once lived near that river, but sir..."
"No 'buts', Hunter. I need you. We're critically short-handed--half the force is passing some infernal virus back and forth to each other, and we're up to our collective asses in new cases."
"I lived in Atkinson just a few miles from the river as a child. But, sir, I'm supposed to be on leave right now." An uncharacteristic whine entered my voice.
"Forget leave. I'm assigning you to this case, Logan. I don't have a choice." He'd moved from my last name to first name. I don't stand a damn chance. His steel blue eyes held me like shackles while he spat out directions to the Corbett house, which sat just above the river in the tiny community of Ivanhoe. In the boonies, at least four hours away. I knew the house. I'd always liked that house, nestled in the bend of the river at Beatty's Bridge.
And forget leave?
This didn't sound like a case that could be solved in a hurry. I'd arranged to take a few days off so I could go hometo Genesis Beach and make plans for my wedding. I'd come to Charlotte today, begrudgingly, and my vacation evaporated after one fricking day off! I hadn't even chosen my wedding gown.
Chase Railey, the love of my life, still worked in Asheville winding up a case before he came on board with the SBI. We'd planned to marry within the next six months, and hoped we could work on cases together as we had when we first met, thrown together by a serial killer in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
But now the wedding plans would have to wait. I mumbled obscenities, put the glass of juice on the table, and poured my coffee into a large Styrofoam cup that I could take with me.
Posted June 10, 2010
Maybe the planets are in alignment or something or maybe my boss just knows what type of books I like, but I've been blessed of late with some outstanding books to review and this mystery featuring tough, feisty and savvy State Investigator Logan Hunter is definitely one of them. The author sets the tone right away with a poem, warning of "a wrecked place, the devil's keep" where "death is always near". The mystery begins with Agent Hunter's gruesome investigation of the gory, gutted body of a woman hanging from a chain-bloody entrails scattered about. Prepare yourself for a suspenseful roller coaster ride with plenty of suspects, obstacles, twists, turns and horror-including a sociopath who is bent on stopping the investigation by any means necessary. All that, plus mutilated animals, Satan worshippers and snakes!
Okay, the mystery is definitely engaging but what really captivated me most was the author's writing style and her skillful portrayal of her characters. Not only that, but she was able to make it as if I were right there in North Carolina; why, I could just about feel the humidity and almost taste the vinegar-based barbeque. And her usage of colloquialisms (expressions such as "dang nabbit" or "dadgum", and "yonder") are scattered perfectly, not too heavy, just enough for flavor. But let me get back to the wonderful characters: Logan, the protagonist, is tough and competent, yet feminine, romantic and vulnerable. And the supporting cast of colorful characters literally leaps off the page. One's body is described as "a corpse of corn", another has a "navel mouth", and yet another has "piranha teeth and a nose like a bull's hairy gonad". Someone grins "like a mule eating briars". Whoa! Is that vivid imagery or what?
The book jacket tells us the author is a life-long resident of North Carolina, ergo it's no small wonder how she was able to put the reader right there. Susan also published two previous mystery novels so she's no rookie and that explains the writing skills. Look for Genesis Beach and Just North of Luck. In conclusion, what do we have here? Well, we've got a well-written, suspenseful mystery with a likeable protagonist, vivid imagery, a taste of horror, a little tongue-in-cheek humor and even romance. What's not to like?
Recommended, by reviewer: Jan Evan Whitford, Allbooks Reviews, 08 June 2010
Posted January 19, 2010
Deep in the mountains of North Carolina, near the Black River, lives a woman who is an avid animal rights activist. She lets the residents of her small town know how disgusted she is of their hunting and that she doesn't care if they're hunting for sport or food! Because of this, all the residents of this small mountain town are angry at her.
The local sheriff is called in when she is found dead in her home, gutted like a deer and left hanging from a garret on her chandelier. Who would do such a despicable thing? The sheriff's office can't figure it out so they call in the S.B.I. A beautiful agent named Logan Hunter is assigned to the case.
Logan decides to talk to some of the residents for leads but is stonewalled. They won't answer her questions but she is determined to solve the grizzly murder and to do that she has to get somebody to talk to her. Slowly, she makes friends with some of the residents and she quickly learns that these people live by their own rules! Along the way, she gathers a lot of information and learns that the list of murder suspects is long.
Soon, small dogs and cats are found dead. Is this somehow related to the murder? Or will Logan find a cult of some kind?
This book is a page turner! Each time Logan Hunter seems to have closed in on the killer, there is a twist and she is pointed in another direction. Believe me; if you like curling up with a good mystery, you'll definitely like this!
This is Ms. Whitfield's third novel in the Logan Hunter series. Her colorful descriptions of the region and the residents put you into the book!
Posted September 9, 2009
Hell Swamp, by Susan Whitfield, throws the reader straight into the investigation of a truly gruesome murder, but the beautifully described scenery on the journey lightens to the tone. The author's deft hand with conversation brings characters and location to life, with a particularly memorable discussion where local men don't recognize a hoop earring. Agent Hunter proves an able investigator, noting the cloudy water from thawing vegetables, bagging and tagging evidence, and tolerating the missteps of unseasoned country coroners with wise aplomb.
The story slows when Hunter's back-story intervenes, with reminiscences about her past and promises for her future. But beautiful descriptions bring time and place to life, and the present tale is more than able to keep the reader turning pages. Telling details of plants and foliage always come back to research and evidence.
Hell Swamp, up close and personal, soon lives up to its name. And danger, up close and personal, sends the reader on a wild exciting ride to find the killer. All the suspects seem so nice, if oddly named-and cook so well, sweetening the tale with some truly fascinating culinary detours. Red herrings (or catfish) are chased and caught, and the killer's final identity is revealed in a truly surprising conclusion.
A fascinating cast of characters carve a place in the reader's memory in this book, and a pair of lead investigators draws the reader on, promising more of their relationship and more mysteries to come.
Posted March 24, 2009
Clara Banoak has many enemies - specifically hunters. The reason? She's a fervent animal rights activist, and what hunters consider to be sport she sees as the slaughter of innocents - and she has no qualms about letting them know. Every time one of them appears in the local paper proudly displaying their latest hunting "trophy," soon after they receive nasty, threatening letters from Clara, accusing them of being cold-blooded murderers and condemning them to damnation for their evil deeds.
So, it comes as no surprise to anyone when Clara is found murdered in her home one day; what does come as a shock, though, is the horrific way in which her life is ended: strung up and gutted like an animal - much the way a hunter would dispatch his quarry...
SBI agent Logan Hunter is then dispatched to the scene, and she soon finds herself caught in the middle of - to say the least - quite interesting circumstances that only seem to grow stranger over time. Unsettling characters and a host of bizarre rituals combine to complicate Hunter's investigation, and her resolve is further tested by emergent problems in her personal life. To top it all off, the simultaneously beautiful and deadly Hell Swamp, the daunting backdrop of all the action, adds its own mysterious flavor and mystical lore to the mix.
In the third installment of the Logan Hunter Mystery Series, Susan Whitfield doesn't miss a step with Hell Swamp. Action-packed, intriguing, and rife with suspense, Hunter's latest adventure through the heart of rural North Carolina exposes the reader once again to the particular folkways and mores of a mini-society that proves to be quite compelling. Not one to engage in exaggerated satire, though, Whitfield is to be commended for framing her characters in a realistic light, exposing their adopted habits and lifestyles without turning them into caricaturish, backwoods rubes.
Hell Swamp also solidifies Whitfield's status as a true master of mystery. Her prose is tight and engaging, and her suspenseful writing style leaves the reader no choice but to turn page after page in anticipation of the latest unexpected twist.
Followers of Susan Whitfield will surely not be disappointed with her latest effort, and it will most certainly be successful in drawing even greater numbers to her ever-growing fan base. An enjoyable, recommended read.