by Mary Kay Andrews
Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Some people come only for the weekends-and it’s something they look forward to all week long. When Riley Griggs is waiting for her husband to arrive at the ferry one Friday afternoon, she is instead served with papers informing her that her island home is being foreclosed. To make matters worse, her husband is nowhere to be found. She turns to her island friends for help and support, but each of them has their own secrets and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens. Cocktail parties and crab boil aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.
“Women greeted each other with that peculiar high pitched Southern squeal of delight. ‘Heeeeyyy!’ What did Wendell call it? Oh yes. The mating call of the ivory-breasted Tri-Delt.”
“There’s a woman who does divorce law whom I like a lot… Susan, something. I can’t remember her last name. She’s got the face of an angel and the soul of a pit bull-piranha hybrid… You want a divorce lawyer who’ll make the other side’s testicles shrink just at the mention of her name.”
“I am that tragic cliché – a short, sassy, gay man. Doomed to spend my life shopping in the boys’ department at J. Crew.”
“Riley leaned against the railing and inhaled deeply – this, she thought, might be her favorite summer perfume – diesel fumes mixed with salt spray with top notes of sunscreen and popcorn.”
“That’s what we call her. Belle Isle Barbie… Because she’s skinny and has plastic boobs.”
I was immediately pulled into this engrossing and lushly written tale from page one. I became an instant fan of this highly skilled author and feel an intense urge to toss out my calendar and read every word she has and will ever put to paper. The characters were quirky, cleverly devised, and multifaceted. They were funny, frustrating, endearing, and well drawn. I was intensely sympathetic to the main character of Riley, although her weak parenting towards reining in her manipulative, disrespectful, and obnoxious daughter was rather annoying and bothersome. Regardless, Ms. Andrews did a superb job of putting me in Riley’s head throughout this well-paced mystery. I felt her disappointments and regrets, my body held her tension as she struggled with the vexing mess her husband had left in his wake. The story contained a murder mystery with several subplots running in several directions; all of which were deeply intriguing, amusing, and lavishly detailed. I could smell the sea air, hear the thunder, and could swear I felt the mosquitoes biting and humidity frizzing my hair. Sigh, it was perfection.
About the Author
Trochek graduated from the University of Georgia with a journalism degree in 1976. She worked as a reporter at a number of papers, and spent 11 years as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before leaving to write fiction full-time in 1991. She published ten mystery novels under her own name between 1992 and 2000, and switched to the Andrews pen name in 2002 to author Savannah Blues, which marked a change in her style to more Southern-flavored themes.