Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tim Myers. Dead Men Don’t Lye. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2006.

Meet the Perkins clan: a family of six adult brothers and sisters devoted to soapmaking in the fictional town of Harper’s Landing, North Carolina. Under the watchful eye of their mother, the siblings own and operate Where There’s Soap, an artisan soap shop and factory where they produce finely crafted soaps, teach classes, and spend much of their time as a family. Benjamin Perkins, the eldest, often acts as a surrogate father to his younger siblings by taking on the lion’s share of the management and making sure no one gets into too much trouble.

He has his work cut out for him. One morning while opening the store, Ben finds supplier Jerry Sanger sprawled on their back steps–dead. While Jerry has been doused in lye, the corrosive base used in soapmaking, it’s clear that someone deliberately broke his neck beforehand. This looks bad for Ben’s little sister Louisa, who happened to be dating Jerry and had also just found out that she wasn’t the only woman in his life. In fact, as the investigation proceeds, it becomes more of a question of who Jerry wasn’t dating! Still, Louisa is the prime suspect, and Ben will do anything to protect his family. Luckily, his longtime off-again-on-again girlfriend, the tough and capable Molly, is on the Harper’s Landing police force. Ben investigates Jerry’s murder, determined to find the real killer, with the exasperated Molly in tow. His search introduces us to the many colorful characters in Harper’s Landing and eventually leads straight to the killer.

The first installment in the Soapmaking Mysteries, Dead Men Don’t Lye is a sordid tale of murder…complete with useful soapmaking tips! A cozy mystery perfect for those who also enjoy crafts.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. 

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Myers, Tim, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Scott Nicholson. Chronic Fear. Las Vegas, NV: Thomas & Mercer, 2011.

After the death of Dr. Sebastian Briggs, the cohort of strangers and old friends who survived the murderous events at the Monkey House try to go back to their old lives, but with little success. Roland and Wendy flee to the Blue Ridge Mountains, looking for some peace. Psychologically ruined Anita and David undergo extreme medical treatment, though with little hope for recovery. Senator Burchfield heads back to Washington, DC, intent on making a run for the presidency. Mark and Alexis Morgan return to their marriage, and while Mark is understandably fired from CRO for destroying their pet project, Alexis continues to conduct research at UNC.

But some people aren’t content to let Halcyon, a calming drug meant to cure PTSD, live on in memory alone–or its rage-inducing counterpart, Seethe. Although Alexis would prefer to forget everything, she can’t. Mark, who had never been exposed to Seethe before, has reacted badly to the dose from the Monkey House. He’s become unpredictable, prone to violent outbursts, and has developed a paranoid obsession with firearms. Quietly, Alexis has begun attempting to revive Halcyon, the only thing that can tame the Seethe left in Mark’s system. And someone has noticed. Alexis receives a chilling phone call at her campus office: Surely you didn’t think we could let you live, after what happened?

Soon, the survivors from the Monkey House are embroiled in a second fight to keep Seethe and Halcyon out of government hands, a race that takes them all across the Old North State. As before, their worst enemy isn’t the CIA, NCS, or even the greedy Senator Burchfield, but the darkness that Seethe brings to the surface in every human being it touches. How will they survive the Monkey House when the Monkey House is all around them?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.


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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mountains, Nicholson, Scott, Orange, Piedmont

Diane Chamberlain. Keeper of the Light Trilogy.

Set in the fictional Outer Banks town of Kiss River, Diane Chamberlain’s trilogy explores love, loss, and the power our loved ones have over our hearts and mind, even after death. The trilogy centers on the four members of the O’Neill family: father Alec, mother Annie, and the children Clay and Lacey. Although Annie O’Neill is tragically murdered in the opening pages of Keeper of the Light, her presence remains a main character throughout the entire trilogy, inspiring and at times haunting those who survived her passing. Not least of these is her daugher, Lacey. Thirteen at the time of her mother’s violent death, we watch Lacey grow from a rebellious, grieving teenager into a thoughtful young artist who must eventually grapple with motherhood in her turn. Although the books are set around new characters who come into the O’Neills’ lives, the trilogy remains focused on this family, their struggles to overcome Annie’s death, and the compelling lighthouse on the fictional Kiss River.

Author Diane Chamberlain


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Filed under 1990-1999, 2000-2009, Chamberlain, Diane, Coast, Dare, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Series

Scott Nicholson. Liquid Fear. Las Vegas, NV: Thomas & Mercer, 2011.

Halcyon is rumored to be a miracle drug–a cure-all for post-traumatic stress disorder. Inducing a state of calm amnesia, the drug helps people completely forget their fears. Those afflicted with PTSD, most notably veterans from the recent wars, will finally be able to lead normal lives. But the research process behind the medication is shadowy and filled with terrible secrets.

Dr. Sebastian Briggs, Halcyon’s inventor, was a respected professional conducting his research at UNC. During trials, the accidental death of Susan Sharpe, an undergraduate test subject, forced the university to let him go, but Briggs refused to stop testing. The scientist’s obsessive, sadistic nature pushed him to continue for his own evil enjoyment, and besides, powerful people were willing to fund his work. Briggs sets up a new lab in nearby Research Triangle Park, and gives it a sinister nickname: the Monkey House. What he does there is anyone’s guess. His funders, sensing major returns, make sure they don’t look too closely at his methods.

But what these powerful, wealthy benefactors don’t realize is that Briggs developed another drug alongside the calming Halcyon– a pill that strips away everything that makes a person human, bringing about a state of complete and total animal fear and anger. Briggs called it Seethe, and unbeknownst to UNC, he was testing this drug when Susan’s death occurred.

Ten years later, Briggs’s other test subjects, also students at the time, find themselves struggling to control their behavior. Each person finds a mysterious bottle of pills among his or her belongings, cryptically labeled take every 4 hours, or else. Somehow, all paths lead back to Dr. Briggs and his fateful experiments, and soon each is drawn to the Monkey House. They come to get answers about troubling memories that seem to stem from nowhere–Was Susan’s death really an accident? Is one of them responsible? What are the pills for? Most importantly, why are they still being affected? But Sebastian Briggs isn’t interested in providing explanations. In fact, he has one final test in mind: put his old subjects in the Monkey House, inject them with the deadly Seethe, and watch. After the lights go out, who will emerge alive?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Horror, Nicholson, Scott, Orange, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Diane Chamberlain. Keeper of the Light. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

In this first installment of a trilogy set in the fictional town of Kiss River on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Chamberlain introduces her readers to the O’Neill family. A talented artist, Annie Chase O’Neill is revered by the locals. Playfully known as Saint Anne, her light, energy, and caring for others has given unfathomable gifts to the community. Dr. Olivia Simon, new to the area, has never met the famed Saint Anne, and is shocked to realize that the woman’s heart she literally holds in her hand one fateful Christmas Eve at the Kiss River Emergency Room belongs to her. Shot directly through the heart, Olivia knows immediately that the only chance to save the woman’s life is to attempt surgery, even though her staff would feel more comfortable air-lifting Annie to a larger facility. In spite of all of Olivia’s best efforts, Annie dies on the table, leaving behind a grieving husband and children. But this is just the beginning.

Olivia’s journalist husband, Paul, has been obsessed with Annie ever since he and Olivia moved to Kiss River from Washington, DC. Olivia thinks that his fixation began with an interview he did with Annie for the local paper, but as this story unfolds through present revelations and past reflection, we find that Paul and Annie’s relationship went much deeper than Olivia knew. Olivia’s marriage in ruins, the situation is further complicated when Annie’s handsome widower, Alec O’Neill, comes looking for answers about that night in the ER. Soon a complicated love square forms between Olivia, Alec, Paul, and Annie’s shade. In the center of it all is the Kiss River Lighthouse: a symbol of all that Annie loved and was. The lighthouse is scheduled to be moved in order to make way for construction, and both Alec and Paul throw themselves into the committee dedicated to saving it. Meanwhile, Olivia slips further and further into Annie’s life, becoming obsessed with understanding what made this woman so special. As the three adults circle slowly around Annie’s memory, it becomes increasingly clear that Annie and Alec’s troubled 14-year-old daughter Lacey, the spitting image of her murdered mother, is the one they should be watching.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.


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Filed under 1990-1999, 1992, Chamberlain, Diane, Coast, Dare, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Mary Flinn. Three Gifts. New York: Aviva Publishing, 2011.

Kyle Davis and Chelsea Davenport, introduced to readers in Flinn’s novel The One, marry in the first chapter of Three Gifts.  Their future together looks bright. Kyle and Chelsea have weathered the problems of their high school years, they are doing work they enjoy, they are near Chelsea’s loving parents, and they truly love each other.  But happily-ever-after is illusive for most couples, and Kyle and Chelsea are no exceptions to this hard truth.

Soon after Kyle and Chelsea return from their honeymoon, Kyle’s architectural firm is contacted by two women from Florida who want to build a condo development just up the road from Kyle and Chelsea’s cabin.  A boozy dinner with these potential clients unnerves Kyle and arouses Chelsea’s jealousy.  Kyle fears that one of the women was more than just a client to his late father, a disgraced builder.  Neither Kyle nor his mother have come to terms with Kyle’s father’s death, and Kyle fears what he could learn from this woman.  Chelsea senses Kyle’s uneasiness, but she misidentifies its source.  A car accident, estrangement from a close friend, illnesses, and the death of a pet are additional challenges that the young couple faces, but as in Flinn’s other books, the main characters, aided by family and friends, find their path to a happy future. Flinn does a good job mixing ordinary newlywed challenges with extraordinary circumstances, and her gift for dialogue and the likableness of her characters makes this an enjoyable read.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Flinn, Mary, Mountains, Romance/Relationship, Watauga

JT Kalnay. The Topsail Accord. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace, 2011.

Shannon has come to Topsail Beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to escape; surrounded with work and family, she feels stifled instead of loved and fulfilled. Yet, she is somehow also lonely. Convinced that no one will notice her at the “decrepit” age of forty, she is content to walk the beach in front of her rental cottage and reflect on her sad past. What Shannon doesn’t realize is that someone has noticed her. Joe jogs along Topsail Beach every morning, and has lately noticed the new renter out walking. He thinks she’s striking, but as a local, Joe is used to being treated as something subhuman by visitors. It’s not until fate intervenes and he literally crashes into her, spilling her coffee, that the two really meet.

Falling in love, or at first in lust, is inevitable, but Joe and Shannon are both damaged goods. Shannon is a divorced scientist, and thanks to rich natural gas deposits discovered on her property in Ohio, a billionaire. Joe is a widower after the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter and runs a coffee shop just off the beach. In the face of their feelings for one another and these obstacles, Shannon and Joe develop the Topsail Accord, agreeing to spend two months a year together on Topsail, one week in Costa Rica in July, and one week in October at a different lighthouse. But as much as they attempt to limit their time and feelings to something manageable, both must ultimately face love’s one constant: in order to love and be loved in return, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. Joe and Shannon’s relationship is initially satisfying for both, but after a few years each feels as though something is missing. When Shannon is struck with a terrifying disease, the lovers must admit what they truly mean to each other before it’s too late and tragedy strikes their lives again.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Kalnay, JT, Pender, Romance/Relationship

Joyce and Jim Lavene. A Spirited Gift. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2011.

October 15th is always a hard day for Dae O’Donnell because it is the anniversary of her mother’s death. Although she makes time for her annual séance in an attempt to make contact with her mother, Dae has pressing matters to attend to. This is also the first day of the Mayors’ Conference Weekend, Dae’s brainchild that brings twenty mayors to Duck, North Carolina, to discuss issues that affect their coastal communities.

Things are off to a great start at the Blue Whale Inn (which, incidentally, Dae’s boyfriend Kevin Brickman runs) with the politicians happily mingling.  But Mother Nature has a different plan. What started as a little bit of rain has suddenly turned into a full-force hurricane, wrecking havoc all along the Outer Banks. Although everyone is supposed to be safe and sound at the Blue Whale, one mayor is missing: Sandi Foxx, Manteo’s flirtatious leader. When Dae finds Sandi’s diamond and ruby ring and thanks to her psychic abilities “feels” Sandi’s fear right before she lost it, she begins to worry for Sandi’s safety.

The next day, Dae discovers Sandi’s body in a shed, and in the midst of the clean-up from the hurricane, the town of Duck undergoes a murder investigation. As mayor, Dae tries to stay involved, and she has help from an unusual source: the ghost of Rafe Masterson, a distant relative and a pirate. With Rafe’s insight and prodding, Dae is able to find out who is disrupting her quiet community and to right some centuries-old wrongs.

This is the third Missing Pieces Mystery.  To start the series at the beginning, read A Spirited Gift.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Dare, Lavene, Jim and Joyce, Mystery, Novels in Series

Everett and Ann Colby. …Face Down and Very Dead. New York: iUniverse, 2010.

When Ed and Chris Loving retired from the high pressure world of big-time banking, they never expected to see the likes of Horace Tydings again.  Ed had steered his bank away from loaning money to Tydings and his ruthless, if not shady, mergers-and-acquisitions empire.  But Tydings has not forgotten Ed Loving and on the weekend of the Bele Chere Festival he shows up at the Loving’s Asheville bed and breakfast with the intention of humiliating Ed.  Ed surprises himself by keeping his cool in the face of Tydings’ drunken, boorish behavior on Friday night.

But on Saturday morning everything changes.  Responding to a sound that he thinks is a neighbor’s dog poaching koi from the B and B’s pond, Ed instead finds Horace Tydings face down and very dead.  Richard Davis, the police lieutenant who is first on the scene, is no friend of Ed’s.  To Lieutenant Davis Ed and Chris are part of the group of newcomers who have gentrified his old neighborhood and left longtime residents feeling like outsiders.  When Lieutenant Davis finds out about Ed’s history with Tydings, Ed knows that he’ll be tagged as Suspect #1.  To protect himself, Ed starts doing his own investigation, and as the novel continues readers are introduced to a series of characters who have reasons to want Tydings dead.  It’s a classic mystery in the style of Agatha Christie–including the twist at the end.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Buncombe, Colby, Everett and Ann, Mountains, Mystery

Jessica Beck. Killer Crullers. New York: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2012.

Simon Henson has left an unpaid, custom order of his favorite crullers (extra icing) on Suzanne Hart’s hands for the last time. When a stranger comes in at the end of the day and asks for whatever donuts she has left, the proprietor of Donut Hearts is more than happy to sell him the dripping confections. She is less than happy, however, when the gentleman walks next door and starts throwing the donuts at her friend Gabby’s thrift shop.

Desmond Ray claims that Gabby Williams stole a priceless diamond brooch and $10,000 in cash mistakenly left in the pocket of a coat that formerly belonged to his elderly Aunt Jean. When Gabby denies the accusation and Suzanne reclaims her crullers, Desmond threatens to settle with them both. He makes good on his threat, in a way–the next day, he is found, murdered, directly between Suzanne’s and Gabby’s shops. What could be worse for a small business owner? Gabby is the prime suspect for both theft and murder, but swears she’s been wrongly accused on both counts. With her state police investigator boyfriend out of town, what else can Suzanne do but find the real killer and prove her friend is innocent?

All the familiar faces, including Suzanne’s friends Grace and George, her assistant Emma, and her lovely mother, are back in this sixth book in Beck’s cozy mystery series. The author handles difficult topics such as adultery and abuse of the elderly with a light hand, spending equal time on the crime solving and our heroine’s relationships. Readers will be interested to know that there could even be wedding bells for someone!

Check the availability of this  title in the UNC-Chapel Hill library’s catalog.


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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Beck, Jessica, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places