North Carolina

“Bones to Pick” by Linda Lovely

 

Book Cover - Bones to Pick

In Linda Lovely’s, “Bones to Pick,” mourners gather to pay their respects to goat farm owner, Aunt Eva, after the death of her twin sister, Lilly. During the ritual of sharing sweet tea and sympathy, a body is discovered by a snuffling pig. Death at a funeral?
 

Brie Hooker, visiting niece and a vegan chef, wanted to help her beloved aunts, but little did she suspect that murder would be served up along with the goat cheese and the farm fresh eggs. None of which is on her preferred menu. Ever.
 

The discovery of the corpse leads to an opportunity to re-ignite a decades old family feud, because the bones belong to Eva’s long missing husband. Eva is accused of murder. Again. The in-laws have never liked Eva, and now they have proof that she was up to no good all those years before. The plot thickens as the enemy camp seeks its own form of Carolina justice for imagined wrongdoings.
 

Farming is hard work and Lovely enhances “Bones to Pick” with the realities of farm life, interspersed with bodies and the dangerous in-law craziness. The goats still have to be fed, and the eggs still must be collected, even while somebody is guarding the house with rifle in hand.
 

The lively cast of characters includes Paint and Andy (hunky potential boyfriends), questionable law enforcement officers, Mollye (a best friend who always has Brie’s back), and a feisty aunt with an awe inspiring back story. Lovely always sprinkles a few older, intelligent folks in her books, and with “Bones to Pick,” we are treated to Brie’s parents. Brie’s lawyer mother is on speed dial for Eva and the clan, and Brie’s dad is a wannabe writer who likes to come up with ways to hide the bodies (on the page).
 

“Bones to Pick” is decidedly Southern, full of humor, with a down home setting, references to fleas on Blue Tick hounds, and mentions of those icons of the Carolinas: Clemson, and Wake Forest. Plus, since no well-bred Southern woman ever uses uncouth words in polite company, Brie comes up with somewhat acceptable, if surprising alternatives like: ‘you son of a salami, holy Swiss cheese! and what the Feta?’
 

I could never be a vegan, but some of the dishes included in the telling of the tale in “Bones to Pick,” sound mouth-watering and I could see adding them to my own repertoire of vegetable dishes. Stuffed portabella mushrooms, pumpkin brownies with coconut whipped cream, and tomato basil soup? Droolworthy food.

 

Lovely includes dedicated meat eaters in her well-plotted story, which makes for mostly friendly bickering around the table between the two food camps. Whether you’re on Team Meat & Cheese or Team Vegan, there’s plenty to like about “Bones to Pick.” I’m looking forward to the next installment of this new chef in the mystery world, but leave the bacon on the table for me, please.

 

Contains mild, adult language.

 

Please visit www.lindalovely.com for more information about Linda Lovely and her other entertaining series.

 

“Cold Heart” by Karen Pullen

 

Book Cover - Cold Heart - Karen Pullen

“Cold Heart,” is the second in Karen Pullen’s traditional mystery series about the North Carolina SBI investigator, Stella Lavender. Instead of working undercover on tacky drug buys and dealer shutdowns, Stella wants to work fulltime at her dream job – in Homicide. But the boss hasn’t wanted to listen. He likes that she doesn’t look like a cop and that the guys in the back alleys won’t have a clue of her true identity until the cuffs are slapped on.


A couple days after working another annoying drug bust, Stella picks up a hitchhiker, a babysitter stranded without a ride, and takes her to the babysitting assignment. Thing is, the father is dead and the baby is missing. That drug bust? It overlaps the homicide. Life gets complicated very quickly.

 

Stella's own free- spirited grandmother, Fern, is an entertaining contrast to Stella’s more serious character, and plays a role in the case of the missing child. The search for the toddler gets knotty, and Stella gets shot – three times in one week. Like I said, complicated.

 

“Cold Heart” touches on the accepted procedure that is followed for evidence collection in NC, but knowing the rules and actually following them? Stella would be in lots of trouble if Command knew what she was really doing.

 

Make no mistake, Stella Lavender is bright, and edgy, and well-qualified for the job. Pullen has developed her assertiveness in natural ways in this second book. She is more comfortable with making decisions, and is good at whatever she’s assigned to do – and a bit better with the common-sense part of the work than her male counterparts. With some luck in tough situations, and creative problem solving, she gets results.

 

“Cold Heart” addresses questionable parenting and lifestyle choices, drugs, and the unexpected reveal that sometimes, nosy neighbors don’t always share what they see. There are plenty of suspects in this twisty family murder mystery. Not many of them like each other, but it's family in the South, so there is always lots of covering up, denial, and looking the other way. Nobody wants to give up a relative, even if that relative is up to no good.  Facing grandma’s stink eye at every family dinner is worse than the wrath of law enforcement. 

 

There are three guys in Stella's life – too bad that two of them are otherwise encumbered with spouses. That doesn’t prevent her from getting weak-kneed. Pullen provides us with smart dialogue in “Cold Heart,” a multi-faceted plot, a well-written cast of characters, and a leading gal we hope will be around for a long series.

 

Contains adult situations and occasional adult language.

 

Please visit www.karenpullen.com for information about North Carolinian, Karen Pullen, her recent release of short stories, “Restless Dreams,” and her other work. 

 

 

 

Authors of the Carolinas

 

Highway-SmokiesIMG_3611

How many of you have read about a region of the USA in a novel and wanted to travel there, in part to experience the food, in part to relax and enjoy the fabulous scenery that can only be seen in that one area of the planet? The Carolinas (both North and South) are home to fabulous shrimp & grits dishes, as well as mouth-watering other goodies. And you can’t visit either State without having a refreshing glass of world famous Sweet Tea.

 

The authors listed below either live in North or South Carolina, grew up here, or set their books in the region. We are treated to the cuisine of the Appalachia, the Low Country boils, the scenery of the mountains, and/or the wildlife/marshes of the coast. There is a mix of historical, paranormal, happily-ever-after, outrageous comedy, dark mysteries, and cozies – something for everyone who loves thumpin’ good fiction.

 

Click on the website links to find out more.  J

 

 

Suzanne Adair  “A Hostage to Heritage”  www.suzanneadair.net

 

JD Allen “Grasshopper” in “Murder Under the Oaks”  www.jdallenbooks.com

 

Maria Alonso-Sierra  “The Coin”  www.mariaelenawrites.com

 

Mike Axsom  “Making Memories Down South”  www.mikeaxsom.com

 

Jodie Bailey  “Breach of Trust”  www.jodiebailey.com

 

Kaye Wilkinson Barley  “Whimsey”  www.kayewilkinsonbarley.com

 

Cindy Blackburn   “Five Spot”   www.cueballmysteries.com

 

Heather Blanton  “A Promise in Defiance”  www.ladiesindefiance.com

 

Susan Boyer  “Low Country Book Club”  www.susanmboyerbooks.com

 

Felicia Bridges  “Czechmate”  www.adventuresthatinspireaction.com

 

Antoinette Brown  “One-Cat Woman” in “Carolina Crimes”

 

Ross Cavins  “Barry vs The Apocalypse”  www.rosscavins.com

 

Diane Chamberlain  “Pretending to Dance”  www.dianechamberlain.com 

 

C. Hope Clark  “Echoes of Edisto”   www.chopeclark.com

 

J.A. Coffey  "Double Dog Dare"  www.jacoffey.com

 

Cynthia Cooke  “Going All the Way”  www.cynthiacooke.com

 

E.B. Davis  “Ice Cream Allure” in “Carolina Crimes”  www.ebdavismysteries.com

 

Saword Broyles Eller    www.amazon.com/author/saywordbeller

 

Nora Gaskin (Esthimer)  “Time of Death” www.lystrabooks.com

 

Normandie Fischer  “From Fire into Fire”  www.normandiefischer.com

 

Beatrice Fishback  “Bethel Manor”  www.beasattitudes.net

 

Dorothea Benton Frank  “All Summer Long”  www.dotfrank.com

 

Marni K Graff  “Death Unscripted” www.auntiemwrites.com

 

Jordon Greene  "They'll Call It Treason"  www.jordongreene.com

 

Leigh Greenwood  “Forever and Always”  www.leigh-greenwood.com

 

Lynette Hampton  “Fiona’s Journey”  www.agnesalexander.com

 

Rick Helms  “Older than Goodbye”  www.richardhelms.net

 

Judy Hogan  “Haw”  www.judyhogan.home.mindspring.com

 

Tom Honea  “A Confluence of Rivers”  www.amazon.com/dp/B009LU1X8I

 

Ellen Hunter  "Much Ado About Murder"  www.ellenhunter.com

 

Polly Iyer  “Indiscretion”  www.pollyiyer.com

 

Regina Jeffers  "Angel Comes to the Devil's Keep"  www.rjeffers.com

 

Sabrina Jeffries  “Stormswept”  www.sabrinajeffries.com

 

Linda Johnson  “Trail of Destruction”  www.lindajohnson.us

 

Kieran Kramer  “Trouble When You Walked In”  www.kierankramer.com

 

Vicki Lane  “Under the Skin”  www.vickilanemysteries.com

 

Linda Lovely  “Lies”  www.lindalovely.com

 

Cynthia Luhrs  “First Knight”  www.cluhrs.com

 

Margaret Maron  “Long Upon the Land”  www.margaretmaron.com

 

Jamie Mason   “Monday’s Lie” www.jamie-mason.com

 

Karen McCullough  “Wired for Murder”  www.kmccullough.com

 

Heather McGovern  "A Moment of Bliss"  www.heathermcgovernnovels.com

 

Ruth Moose  “Wedding Bell Blues”  www.ruthmoose.com

 

Katy Munger  “Desolate Angel”  www.katymunger.com

 

Nancy Naigle  “Every Yesterday”  www.nancynaigle.com

 

Heather Newton  “Under the Mercy Trees”  www.heathernewton.net

 

Kathryn O’Sullivan  “Neighing with Fire”  www.kathrynosullivan.com

 

Gail Oust  “Cinnamon Toasted”   www.gailoust.com

 

Kate Parker  “Deadly Scandal”  www.kateparkerbooks.com

 

Britni Patterson  “A Thousand Deadly Kisses”  www.britnipatterson.com

 

Leigh Perry  “The Skeleton Haunts a House”  www.leighperryauthor.com

 

Ashantay Peters  “Reading Between the Lives”  www.ashantay.com

 

Patti Phillips  “Kerrian’s Notebook, Vol. 1”  www.pattiphillipsbooks.com

 

Karen Pullen  “Cold Feet”  www.karenpullen.com

 

Kathy Reichs  “Trace Evidence”  www.kathyreichs.com

 

Jennifer Riley  “Jerk Alert”  available at Amazon

 

Sarah Shaber  “Louise’s Chance”  www.amazon.com/Sarah-R.-Shaber/e/B001HMPB9U

 

Nancy Simpson  “B.O.Q.”  www.authornpsimpson.com

 

Regina Smeltzer  “Retribution” www.reginasmeltzer.net

 

Jennifer Hudson Taylor  "For Love or Liberty"  www.jenniferhudsontaylor.net

 

Ellis Vidler  “Prime Target”  www.ellisvidler.net

 

Kathryn R. Wall  “Jordan Point”  www.kathrynwall.com

 

Tamara Ward  “Concealed Suspicions”  www.authortamaraward.com

 

Lynn Chandler Willis  “Wink of an Eye”  www.lynnchandlerwillis.com

 

Bonnie Wisler  “Count a Hundred Stars”   available at Amazon

 

Caleb Wygal  "Blackbeard's Lost Treasure"  www.calebwygal.com

 

DSC_0982

 

See any new-to-you names on the list of Authors of the Carolinas? 

Happy reading!  🙂

 

 

 

 

“Cold Feet” by Karen Pullen

 

Book Cover - Cold Feet by Karen Pullen

“Cold Feet,” Karen Pullen’s debut novel, introduces us to ambitious Stella Lavender, a North Carolina SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) agent. Lavender is working as an undercover drug agent, wearing skimpy outfits and making drug buys in questionable neighborhoods. She’d rather switch to homicide investigations.

 

Lavender and her free-thinking grandmother attend an almost wedding that never takes place because the bride is found dead before she can walk down the aisle. Stella is pumped. A homicide dumped into her lap and she’s the first one on the scene? She’ll have the chance to prove that she’s ready to transfer out of the unpredictable narcotics scene.

 

But wait…why would anyone want to kill the bride? And poison her with such a grotesque result? The secret that Stella uncovers about the bride will pull the family apart and challenge the belief system of all those who knew her. But, was the secret worth killing for? As a bonus, the investigation reveals more than one secret during the search for the murderer.
 

Lavender teams up with a local detective and the autopsy discloses a fact about Justine (the victim) that creates a list of likely suspects longer than they thought possible. Nobody is beyond suspicion – even the groom is on the list. Jealousy, rage, old boyfriends, and cover-ups all play a part in the expertly crafted, multi-layered, adult plot threads. Not the least of which is that Stella’s day job is still ongoing, so she must balance the druggies with the murder, while saving herself and protecting her grandmother from the crazies in both arenas.

 

Pullen has written some great dialogue, in addition to interesting characters in “Cold Feet” that balance each other nicely. Stella herself is a well-drawn young woman with her own set of issues, and has the appropriate training, attitude, and skill set to carry off the lead role in an investigative series.

 

Interwoven with the action, “Cold Feet” presents an interesting look at a modern Southern value system – part religious, part political, part historical – that outsiders encounter whenever they enter the world graced with languid days, unspoken corruption, and slowly changing standards. Pullen describes the beauty of the countryside and the cherished traditions, while at the same time gently exposing the pull/push between the realities of the Old and New South.

 

Big takeaway from “Cold Feet”: The past will out and come back to trip you up. It may even get you killed. 

 

Whatever you do, get Pullen’s next book, “Cold Heart,” out in 2017. For more information about Karen Pullen and her work, please visit www.karenpullen.com