Monday, July 6, 2009

Murder, They Write

My son once asked me why I read so many mysteries. I told him I was looking for the perfect murder. I could have also said mysteries engage my mind and provide me with delightful escapes. I have a bunch of favorite mystery writers and I have grown attached to their characte4rs. I like imagining myself sitting with Sarah Beth Delaney on her front porch waiting for Jitty, her resident ghost whom I imagine looks like Halle Berry. I love laughing at Miss Juila, and I want my own ghost to communicate with me like Aunt Dimity does Lorie Spencer. I want to visit Hamish MacBeth’s village of Lockdub and meet his wildcat and dog. I want to ride to the hounds with Sister Jane and help Sneaky Pie write her next book. I like searching for familiar landmarks in Knoxville while Dr. Bill Brockton does his forensics inquiries. I am fascinated by Brother Cadfael and his knowledge of plants and how they can be used to heal or kill. And then there are the masters of mysteries: Inspector Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, and Nero Wolfe—how easy they make it seem to unravel the twists and turns of devious plots.
Recently one of our treasured patrons tipped me to the series of mysteries by Kathryn Wall featuring her heroine Bay Tanner. Bay lives in her beach cottage on Hilton Head. She’s a gorgeous redhead with glass-green eyes, healthy investments that pay the bills and an impeccable Southern lineage. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? But, as with all good heroines, there are depths to Bay that are not readily seen. She’s just barely coping with life almost a year after a horrific explosion killed her state criminal investigator husband Rob and badly injured her. Her cherished but cantankerous retired judge father is recovering from a series of strokes and her perfect belle best friend is married to a controlling bully. Worst of all for Bay, no one has been charged with Rob’s death and no one in law enforcement seems to care.
In the fashion of many mysteries these days, Kathryn Wall has created a strong female character but with a decidedly Southern twist. The smells, foods and quirks of Hilton Head and Lowcountry South Carolina weave their way around Bay throughout the nine books in the series. Wall’s plots are just intricate enough to keep you engaged, but they aren’t so complicated that you have to turn back ten pages to see who did what to whom. Between her daddy, her friends, her partner in the “inquiry agency” she establishes, Bay’s life stays in tumult, but you know in your heart she’s going to come out on top.
These are great books to take with you on vacation. Start with In for a Penny and follow Bay as she faces life, new dangers, new loves, and mysteries just waiting off the edge of her deck. The books are available at Main and Avoca in fiction under the author’s last name. This series is best read in order:
In for a Penny
Not a Penny More
Perdition House
Judas Island
Resurrection Road
Bishop’s Reach
Sanctuary Hill
The Mercy Oak
Covenant Hall
Reviewed by Doris

1 comment:

  1. I haven't tried Kathryn Wall yet, but I think I should. Because, yes, characters whom I want to know - and learn from - and the marvelous perfect-puzzle element of a mystery plot are what do it for me. (And are what I aspire to, as well!)