North Carolina author, Lynn Chandler Willis, has written an engrossing three book “Tell Me…” series set in Appalachia. “Tell Me No Lies,” the first in the series, introduces us to Ava Logan, newspaper owner/publisher/editor/reporter, as the lead protagonist. Willis’ personal background as a former newspaper owner that did everything except print the Pleasant Garden Post, lends wonderful authenticity to the newspaper life both in and out of Ava’s office.
“Tell Me No Lies” deals with ginseng poaching, betrayal, a love lost and found, and of course, a murder. Ava’s complex relationship with Sheriff Grayson Ridge makes for gasp-out-loud reading as their astonishing secrets are revealed little by little in the middle of the murder and ginseng poaching investigations. How far can Ava go in crossing the line to ‘get the story’ without getting into trouble with the law herself? Will she put her family at risk with her decisions? Can she protect the baby she rescued from the murder scene? With a diverse cast of characters and a well-developed, layered plot, “TMNL” is a solid beginning to the Ava Logan stories.
“Tell Me You Love Me,” the third in the series, opens with rich descriptions of a shivering hike through the winter gloom of leafless woods and surroundings. Ava is there to do a feature story about a local legend and his rabbit-hunting beagles, but one of the dogs finds bones. What follows is an absorbing search for the identity of the remains. An anthropologist is called in to help with the cold case, but Ava has deep roots in Jackson Creek, a nose for a big story, and has her own methods of uncovering old connections.
Willis’ core people are gradually developed through the three books, and Doretha, a recurring character, takes on a bigger role in “Tell Me You Love Me.” As Ava’s former foster mother, Doretha protects and advises Ava. But Doretha has a secret or two of her own, one of which could drive the two women apart for good. Ridge has a larger personal role in Ava’s life, but they continue to have trouble with boundaries between the needs of the newspaper and the restrictions that murder investigations place on Ava’s need to know. Willis has a special knack for writing about the children in the series and anyone with teenagers of their own will laugh and moan while reading about the trials the son puts Ava through. Priceless.
In a fascinating subplot, Willis’ page-turner explores an Appalachian tradition of using a granny witch for healing. Locals rely on her for medical treatment since traditional medicine is too far away and too expensive for people in need without insurance. Differences between Appalachia and the world outside the misty hills, in both cultural beliefs and traditional practices, drive the sometimes tragic motives in “Tell Me You Love Me.”
Fall in love with Ava as she balances family, work, and love, while solving crimes in Appalachia.
Please visit www.lynnchandlerwillis.com for information about Willis’ appearances and her award-winning books.