Full disclosure: I’m a Hope Clark fan. And it’s not just because she’s a former government employee married to a federal agent, so we’ve walked the same talk. I’ve followed her Funds for Writers newsletter for years (it reaches over 45,000 writers and is continually ranked as one of the top 101 websites for writers by Writers Digest Magazine), and I love her editorials and voice. Her advice to writers is always sensible and smart, and I treasure that newsletter in my inbox! I absolutely loved her Shy Writer Reborn too, chock full of hundreds of tips for the introverted writer.
So when she came out with her first novel, Lowcountry Bribe, I was thrilled. It didn’t disappoint. I knew the main character’s voice would be a strong one a la Hope–and it was. The story was a page turner!
And the best part? I still wasn’t disappointed in the second novel in the series about a fed named Carolina Slade. I was lucky enough to snag an autographed copy of Tidewater Murder (Bell Bridge Books) to review from the author herself.
My analysis was that this book was also well-written. Though personally I preferred the first book in the series, the second one is also a good read. You can tell Clark spends her time working on and weaving these books: this is not amateur hour with her, she is quite adept at narrating a story with skill. As a writer with many other published and aspiring writers in my network, I’ve been given manuscripts to critique, and so I often look at books with a critical eye. Did the author rush to publish? Are there a lot of typos? Has she or he revised and edited and critiqued with fellow writers? Have they created intriguing, strong characters with an equally good story that doesn’t ramble and stays on course? Does it keep my attention (which is hard to do with 3 kids and my own writing career to manage!)
Clark’s writing meets all the criteria. The main character, Carolina Slade, is described at the end of the book as “overkill”–a perfect description of a feisty character who does her work with gusto. I also enjoyed the love interest with Wayne, a special agent, and the added dimension of another rival for her affection, Monroe. My only critique is that I wished she had re-introduced Wayne/added that storyline at the beginning of the book instead of the middle. I found myself skimming a couple sections in the beginning where I wasn’t interested in paperwork and liens and wanted to skip to the love interest. That criticism may be because stories about human dynamics hold my interest more than a mystery; I’m not a huge mystery genre reader except some Jack Patterson, Dan Brown, and this summer I devoured Harlan Coben’s Six Years.
Overall, though, a good read I can recommend to those looking for a good mystery and a strong heroine. Kudos again to Ms. Clark. #
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