Penny’s Review of Lowcountry Bribe
Written by C. Hope Clark
The south possesses a charm and mystery that’s hard to describe. In Lowcountry Bribe, C. Hope Clark brings the ambiance and conflict, along with some of the less savory elements, to life when Carolina Slade runs into more trouble than any woman who’s simply trying to make a living by making loans to farmers deserves. Are the people in her department involved in criminal activities, or don’t they believe a local hog farmer tried to bribe her? If there’s not a problem, why is someone trying to kill her?
Carolina Slade’s real last name is Bridges, but she doesn’t go by her married name. Slade is her choice, and the generic last name works best for a female in the position of county manager for the Department of Agriculture. Slade and her husband, Alan Bridges, agreed long ago that their marriage was a mistake. For years, it’s been a contest of wills to see who’ll give in and file for divorce first. Their two children are her first concern. However, Alan’s obnoxious behavior is becoming worse, and while Slade attributes that to his generally nasty disposition, it may be too late by the time she discovers that Alan hides more than one dangerous secret.
Meanwhile, Slade just wants to do the right thing and protect her job. That means reporting the attempted bribe, whether anyone believes her or not, which starts an avalanche of activities no one expects. A handsome investigator from the Feds’ IG Office in Atlanta, Wayne Largo, is easy on the eyes and stirs unexpected feelings, but she’s not ready to trust anyone or get involved on that level. She already figured out that the investigator has personal secrets and problems with his superiors. If she loses her job, she can’t take care of her children. Great! The only person who believes her is in trouble too. Worse yet, he’s pulled off the case, after the bad guys find out she’s on to them.
Slade’s fear escalates when she finds out a missing boss, whom everyone assumed went out into the woods and committed suicide over family problems, may have been murdered. Next, she receives blatant threats and finds her soon-to-be ex-husband in her kitchen in the middle of the night, dressed all in black, even though he isn’t supposed to have a key. Slade filed for divorce last week and changed the locks after Alan moved out. She changed the locks a second time, after he showed up with a key again. What’s going on? The lawyer warned her that Alan might go off the deep end, but this makes no sense. Why break in dressed in black to drink a glass of milk? How does he keep getting keys?
The story grabs you and holds on all the way through. However, the ride after the children are kidnapped, Alan crosses the hog farmer, and Slade’s sitting in front of a loaded shotgun, next on the list to be murdered, is like a long drop on a roller coaster. Clark wraps it up with finesse and surprises. Unlike some mysteries that leave you confused, when the intricate details come together, they make sense and whet your appetite for the next adventure, which is a good thing. Lowcountry Bribe is the first book in the Carolina Slade mystery series.
Lowcountry Bribe is a winner in other ways too. The beautiful cover design relates well to the location of the story and the content, setting the mood before you open the cover, and the author’s knowledge of the subject comes through in the subtle details. She lives in the south with her husband, who is a veteran of federal law enforcement, and Clark spent twenty-five years working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, the editing is tight and thorough, which makes reading a pleasure. Clark’s mastery of storytelling shows, and there’s no doubt she’ll develop a loyal following for this series.
About the author:
C. Hope Clark is an award-winning writer with a weekly newsletter that reaches university professors, all levels of writers, as well as journalists and published authors. Clark is an expert in helping writers find ways to make money writing. She also offers a newsletter for young writers. The Funds for Writers website has been on the Writer’s Digest list of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers for twelve years. If you read the “about the author” section in the back of Lowcountry Bribe, you’ll find out that she also met her husband on a bribery investigation. http://www.chopeclark.com
Title: Lowcountry Bribe
Author: C. Hope Clark
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (January 31, 2012)
Note: Although Penny reviews books that are provided by the publishers, she reviews books she purchases for personal use too. This review is not compensated in any way.