Lisa Carter in her new book, "Carolina Reckoning" published by Abingdon Press takes us into the life of Alison Monaghan.
From the back cover: Alison wanted her husband gone, not dead...
When 30-something housewife, Alison Monaghan discovers proof of her husband's infidelity in a photograph with a mysterious woman, she must decide how to confront Frank when he returns home from work. Despite the influence of her best friend Valerie, a strong Christian, Alison remains aloof from God and is determined to handle this crisis her own way. But Alison may not get that chance. Frank never makes it home. Soon his body is found on a lonely back-country road in antebellum Weathersby Historic Park where Frank served on the board of directors and where Alison, with a degree in landscape design, was a volunteer garden docent.
Homicide detective Mike Barefoot, a Cherokee native from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, immediately puts Alison at the top of his suspect list. He finds himself drawn to her--and not just because she had motive for the crime. As an army veteran, Mike usually keeps his emotional walls high. And as a detective, he knows not to get involved with murder suspects. So why he is so attracted to Alison? Can he fight his feelings for her--and find the killer before Alison becomes the next target?
Marital infidelity. Alison has all the evidence to prove her husband's womanizing and plans to confront him with it. All she wants is to get rid of him and be on with her life. She never gets the chance. Someone kills him. And all the evidence points to her as the killer. Now what? Well the same way she got the evidence to prove his infidelity she sets out to find the murderer. Mike Barefoot is the cop assigned to the case. He's got his hands full. Not only is he attracted to Alison he also has to keep her alive long enough to find the real killer and stop him. Get ready for a mystery that is going to keep you flipping pages a mile a minute as you try to find out what will happen next. Red herrings, murder attempts and romance this book has it all. I really don't think you will guess who the murderer is before the reveal and you will be pleasantly surprised. Ms. Carter does an outstanding job of bringing her characters to life and you really want their romance to succeed. I am already looking forward to more from this talented author.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Abingdon Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Alison Monaghan has just found proof of her husband's infidelity. She hasn't loved him for a long time, and this is the end. But instead of confronting the controlling fault-finder, she is awakened to the news Frank has been murdered, leaving her an almost-destitute widow with two teenage children.
Detective Sergeant Mike Barefoot is in charge of the murder investigation, but finds himself more interested in the beautiful widow and her growing Christian faith, a faith he rejected years ago. He finds himself competing for her affections with a mature Christianâ€”and protecting her from an unknown threat.
While I found the book easy to get in to, I did feel it was let down by the writing. Too many characters were introduced in too short a time, and it seemed most of them had red hair. It was difficult to keep them all straightâ€”a particular problem in a mystery, where one of the characters is likely to be the murderer (and others may well be additional victims). And Alison suffered from TSTL syndrome (too stupid to live). I know conflict is the essence of good fiction, but when the 911 operator says stay outside away from the intruder, why did she have to go inside?
I'm not convinced Carolina Reckoning knew what it was doing. At first it seemed to be a mystery, with a dead body and a cast of interesting characters, many of whom were hiding secrets. But at times it seemed to be more of a romantic suspense, as it didn't follow some of the conventions of the mystery genre and the love triangle seemed to take on more importance than the underlying mystery.
The Christian aspect of the novel was strong and generally well-presented, but I found there were some distracting idiosyncracies in the writing (like Mike's insistence that Hawaii is â€˜foreign'. Last I heard, it was a state of the USA).
Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
There is an excellent cartoon going around that shows an author on trial,
and a reader is standing before the judge saying:
"That's the one! That's them!
Their book kidnapped me and wouldn't let me go!"
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I submit that that book may well be Carolina Reckoning.
Those who know me know that I love all things Southern and Mystery.
Put the two together (think In The Heat of The Night ...what an excellent Tv show that is!) and I walk around with a smile that is far too big to be healthy.
When I saw that Old Southern mansion and that big slow moon shining down on the cover of
Carolina Reckoning, well, I knew I had to read it.
And then when I opened the book, and found such a strong personality in both of the main characters, I knew I wanted to keep reading.
In Mike Barefoot's opening scene, we find him in the grocery store. I howled with laughter as I read his thoughts. Mike is a homicide detective, and the law-enforcement mind is present in his inner dialoge. As he maneuvers his way to the frozen dinner aisle in search of a good home-cooked meal, he comes across two college boys buying beer: a frat party in the making, a toddler whose behavior indicates that he will be a serial murderer someday, and a mean little Granny who hits him with a can of beans: a tip-off that she probably has bodies buried in her backyard.
See what I'm talking about?
Meanwhile, Alison Monaghan is trying to re-imagine her life without her husband...the proof of his infidelity just came to light, and her world will never be the same.
Soon those words, "life without her husband" take on a whole new and even more raw meaning...
he is dead. Murdered on a back road, his car pointing toward home.
Now, with no closure as the leads all dry up, Alison must use her brave spirit to investigate her husband's death herself. The resolve and courage that she was going to need to rebuild after his adultery must now be used to find answers to his execution.
And we get to go along with Alison and Mike. As they search for the truth about Frank Monaghan, they may just encounter the Way, the Truth and the Life HImself, as well as find the truth about God's plan for their futures.
Thank you Lisa Carter and Abingdon Press for sending me Carolina Reckoning!
It opens with Alison Monaghan finding a photo in her husband's jacket pocket - a photo of Frank with another woman. She'd often suspected and now she had proof of a liaison while on one of his long trips as an airline pilot. She would confront him when he came home that evening from yet another of his flights. But he never comes home and the next morning the police are on her door step. Frank has been murdered.
That sets the pace for the novel. The bad news continues as Alison finds out that all their money is gone. Life will certainly have to change for her and her teen-aged son and daughter. She is determined to find out who killed her husband and why, much to the dismay of the detective assigned to the case, Mike Barefoot.
This novel takes place in Raleigh, North Carolina, a place foreign to my Pacific Northwest locale. I like to learn about a topic when I read a novel and learn I did. Frank was on the board of directors of an antebellum plantation historic park and Alison was a volunteer garden docent there. Lisa did a great job of revealing the society structure and character of the southerners associated with that park. They were high society and didn't tolerate imperfection, like having your husband murdered. Even Alison's children were made fun of by their classmates.
I also got a peek into some of the unsavory history of the area too. Who your great grandfather was might determine your place in the ranks of society. Some of the cat fights these women had! That brings up the well developed characters. You could just feel the venom dripping off some of the women.
My favorite aspect of the book was the Christian witness. Alison is not on speaking terms with God as the novel opens but she has a saving experience mid-novel. Sometimes authors add a little Christianity in a novel to make it "Christian." Not so in this one. Christianity is central to the story line, especially at its suspenseful end.
There is romance too. The detective has feelings for Alison and it is entertaining to see them butt heads as the investigation proceeds.
A good mystery, well developed characters, a little romance, learning about a part of the U.S., twists and turns and red herrings, Christianity essential to the story...this novel has all the aspects I want in a good novel. I highly recommend it.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Lisa Carter is another new author for me and I'm so glad to have discovered her writing.
She has a way of mixing mystery with romance and with faith that is fun to read and very engaging.
I felt fully committed to this story and to these characters while reading the book. I felt many emotions with them while appreciating the humor woven through the story. I appreciated the characters' quests for faith and their desire to know more about God. Their search for God was genuine and it was a pleasure to journey with them on the pages of this book.
This is a book that will appeal to many different kinds of readers. All readers will find something great to love while reading and enjoying this fantastic story.