“Palmetto Poison” by C. Hope Clark
Carolina Slade is back in “Palmetto Poison” and feistier than ever, as a Special Projects Investigator for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. Sounds like a dull job with a lot of pencil pushing, right? HA! Slade is anything but dull and in her job, she’s more likely to push the envelope than a pencil on any given day. She’s been promoted because of her death dodging, investigative work in an earlier case, and she has the scars to prove it.
Slade’s promotion sends her to Columbia, SC where she has built a house on a lake with her crooked dead husband’s insurance money. She still has a thing going with Wayne Largo, a Special Agent for the Office of the Inspector General. That off again, on again relationship has potential, but each of them has trust issues, more fully explored in “Palmetto Poison.”
Slade’s old job focused on chasing down “bad farm loans and crooked farmers,” but her new boss gets Slade involved in State House politics, big money, drug thefts, and old romantic scandals intertwined with possible deadly peanut mold toxins. An overlapping case (that pulls in Largo) centers on a notorious drug dealer, a witness who refuses to testify, and the obsessive behavior of a tenacious federal agent. It seems as if everybody is using Slade for his or her own benefit – she is a crack investigator after all – but trying to question everyone may get her fired…or dead.
Her flighty sister, Allegra Jo arrives, having been thrown out by their mother who needed a break from her continuing free-wheeling attitude. Slade doesn’t know whether to give her a ‘Best Aunt of the Year Award,’ strangle her, or throw Ally out for being more popular than she is with her own kids.
Yup, Slade has a problem with jealousy and not just over family matters. Largo’s ex-wife Pam, a DEA agent, is in town and working on a case that of course, must involve them both. Arghhhh…why does she have to be so cute…and capable? Slade is turning greener than the lush Carolina countryside and can’t keep her mouth shut.
A multi-layered “Palmetto Poison” subplot focuses on family issues and the complexities of those relationships. What happens when the normal day-to-day routines are disrupted and impacted by a parent’s demanding work schedule? Can the job be too dangerous if it places the family in harm’s way, even accidentally? Clark gives us an insight into teenaged dumb choices and adult sibling responsibility, and you’ll be reminded of why you love (or hate) your assorted wacky in-laws and why you probably would not trade them (as infuriating as they are) for anything. Even if they do test the boundaries of your commitment to your spouse.
In “Palmetto Poison,” Clark has delivered realistic chase scenes and shootouts, smart dialogue, a nudist resort, convincing family drama, romance, and juicy politics, all against the backdrop of steamy South Carolina. Clark keeps getting better and her fans will love this third title in the series.
For more information about C. Hope Clark’s award winning writing and her highly respected site, FundsforWriters.com, please visit www.chopeclark.com
To read my review of the first book in the Carolina Slade series, “Lowcountry Bribe,” go here.