In the deep waters off the coast of Beaufort, South Carolina, corpses are turning up faster than dolphins chasing a shrimp boat . . .
When federal agricultural investigator Carolina Slade's best friend is suspected of embezzlement and fraud in a sordid case involving drugs and migrant slavery, Slade must question her own long-held loyalties. She's desperate to believe in Savannah Conroy's innocence despite every scrap of evidence pointing to her friend's guilt.
After a tomato farmer dies in a shrimp boat explosion, Slade's colleague, Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo, manages to force Slade off the case, citing conflict of interest. Refusing to quit even if it means violating agency orders, Slade fights to save her friend's career. Soon, Slade's the target of escalating threats meant to frighten her off the case.
But threats might be the least of Slade's worries. She's also juggling a co-worker's sudden romantic interest, voodoo, and her teenage daughter's determination to solve mysteries like her mother. Slade struggles to keep her life, and the lives of those around her, safe and sane when, once again, digging up dirt on the ag business threatens to put her six feet under.
C. Hope Clark was born and reared in the South, from Mississippi to South Carolina with a few stints in Alabama and Georgia. The granddaughter of a Mississippi cotton farmer, Hope holds a B.S. in Agriculture with honors from Clemson University and 25 years’ experience with the U. S. Department of Agriculture to include awards for her management, all of which enable her to talk the talk of Carolina Slade, the protagonist in most of her novels. Her love of writing, however, carried her up the ranks to the ability to retire young, and she left USDA to pen her stories and freelance.
Lowcountry Bribe‘s won several awards to include finalist status of the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense sponsored by Romance Writers of America. The novel enjoyed semi-finalist status (top 100 out of 10,000) in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. The book went on to win the 2012 Silver Falchion Award for Crime Fiction and the 2013 EPIC E-book Award for Best Mystery.
Tidewater Murder and Palmetto Poison followed close on Lowcountry's heels in the Carolina Slade series. Hope's recently released a new series, beginning with Murder on Edisto, of the Edisto Island Mysteries, followed by Edisto Jinx, with Echoes of Edisto and Affairs of Edisto forthcoming in 2016 and 2017..
Hope is married to a 30-year veteran of federal law enforcement, a Senior Special Agent, now a contract investigator. They met on a bribery investigation within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the basis for the opening scene to Lowcountry Bribe. Hope and her special agent live on the rural banks of Lake Murray outside of Chapin, South Carolina, forever spinning tales on their back porch, bourbon and coke in hand, when not tending a loveable flock of Orpington and Dominiquer hens.
She also currently manages FundsforWriters.com, a weekly newsletter service she founded that reaches almost 35,000 writers to include university professors, professional journalists and published mystery authors. Writer’s Digest has recognized the site in its annual 101 Best Web Sites for Writers for 16 years.
She’s published in The Writer Magazine, Writer’s Digest, Chicken Soup, Next Step Magazine, College Bound Teen, Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), TURF Magazine, Landscape Management and other trade and online publications. She speaks at several writers’ conferences a year. Hope is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, EPIC, International Thriller Writers, SE Writers Assoc. and MENSA.
I ate up another Hope Clark mystery this weekend, and again, let me state I'm not a mystery reader. This reader of Jane Austen and Kiran Desai and Amy Walden (literary, international, etc) found out about Hope's fiction through her Funds for Writers newsletter and decided to take a risk on her stories. It's no risk whatsoever. In this sequel, Carolina Slade proves she's flesh and blood lifting off the pages, making me alternately cheer her on and want to cuss her out. "Slade, what are you doing?" I wanted to yell at her when she was letting loyalty, friendship, and bias distract the investigation. Then a chapter later I could see the artistry in Clark's development of a character who discovers consequences for her unbridled behavior. I love this. I gauge a good read by the ability of a character to feel like a sister, enemy, or friend. That's why we keep picking a story up.
I'm amazed at how much research Clark must have done to make this story happen. Gullah culture, farm business, police work, you name it, Clark has done the necessary digging and woven it so smoothly into her narrative, delivering in just the right doses so you don't feel you're mired in Wikipedia.
I also like the love triangle of this tale. Though Monroe is a bit too forgiving at times, he's a good balance to the possessive Wayne, and what woman doesn't love the thrill and danger of that kind of entanglement? Never mind the fun of following behind an investigator like Slade who dares do things I never would.
Finally, I salute Clark for what I call intelligent, modern feminism. There's no politics here, only a savvy awareness of the complex desires and strengths of a smart and strong woman. Women aren't asking to be treated like fragile princesses or hardy jocks, but we do want a combination of chivalrous care and hands-off respect. It's no more a double standard than men wanting it all on a silver plate, too. Carolina Slade embodies the woman of our times who can go it alone to fight for what she believes in while needing some boundaries, TLC, and protection. I enjoyed this glimpse of what women want plus a roller coaster ride of adventure.
Ready for the next book, Hope! Sorry, you don't get to rest because we keep expecting to see Slade coming around the corner!
Sequels, all authors know are hard to do. Readers expect the second book to duplicate the same passion, tension and quality of writing. To have this expectation placed upon them can send some writers into the depths of despair. This did not happen to C. Hope Clark with her second novel, Tidewater Murder. It has surpassed the brilliance of its sibling and blossomed into a classic thriller in its own right.
The book follows the random path of the latest case Carolina Slade finds herself entwined in. Slade in her cavalier way, never approaches a problem at half pace. Flat out all the way to the bitter end regardless of who gets hurt, is her way. After the death of her husband, Slade has struggled in her role as a single mom. She hoped that her recent promotion and moving house would bring some sunshine into her life. But a phone call from the Beaufort Office of Agriculture blew her chances of brightness.
Savannah Conroy, an old girlfriend of Slade, was boss of the Beaufort Office of the Department of Agriculture. Monroe Pravette, a departmental auditor, had found irregularities with the file on the Heyward farm. Signatures on a loan document appeared forged, the loan was for $300,000 and Dan Heyward had gone missing.
The further Slade took her investigation of Savannah, the more out of hand events became. Dead bodies began to turn up in unexpected places. Voodoo raised its head when somebody placed a hex on Slade. The influence of the drug trade, physical and psychological intimidation of Slade and her family became part of Slade’s working environment.
She found herself teamed up once again with Wayne Largo. In an instant her emotions turned turbulent as she tried to assess what her relationship was with Wayne, professional, personal or both. Never one to walk away from adversity, Slade remained true to the pig-headed side of her personality. It was a stubbornness that placed her in fear of her life, as she stumbled upon acts of cruelty that she thought had vanished with the slavery of the nineteenth century.
C. Hope Clark has once again shown that she is a writer of substance. Tidewater Murder rocks from beginning to end with an intensity that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. The imagery of her words is strong, bringing the fictional world of Carolina Slade into the present. I felt like I was part of Slade’s world, sitting in the privileged position of overseer, never missing a single beat of the drama played out before me.
Readers, who enjoyed Lowcountry Bribe, won’t be disappointed with Tidewater Murder. It’s a book that totally involves the reader in the fabric of the tale. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and I’m sure all those who read it will feel the same.
* I received a free copy from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is the 2nd book in the Carolina Slade mysteries and this one finds Slade promoted and living in Columbia, South Carolina. When her best friend Savannah is accused of wrong-doing, Slade sets out to find the truth. And gets into trouble along the way. Like the first novel in the series, I enjoyed the setting and Slade's spunky personality. However, the book a little slow going and Slade's stubbornness got on my nerves at times. I found myself putting the book down a lot and then going back to it. Rating: 2 1/2 stars
Mysteries are my guilty pleasure. I want to be immediately engaged and entertained. But when I pick up this genre, I still want to learn something interesting. In Tidewater Murder, the author exactly fit my bill. It’s obvious that law enforcement and investigations come directly out of her background, and I gained some interesting tidbits on the Gullah tradition and agricultural practices I knew nothing about. Plus, her characters came to life with all their foibles exposed. Warning: This is a page-turner. C. Hope Clark is directly responsible for me putting work on the backburner until I could get to the last page!
It's official, Carolina Slade, or just Slade is my new new mystery heroine. I liked her in Lowcountry Bribe but loved her in this offering. I love southern literature and am in awe of the diversity in cultures the regions possess. This story is in the low country, one of my favorite regions because of the Gullah culture and the marshlands. Slade is quite the southern-bred lady, but fiercely independent and sharp-tongue and with sharp wit, a southern cross between Lucy and Miss Marple. Look forward to more of her South Carolina adventures.
Ohhh... this was sooo close to a five-star rating. So what missed for me? I'll get to that in a second.
First... It's been a few years since I read the first Carolina Slade mystery (Lowcountry Bribe) and loved it. Carolina Slade, an agricultural loan officer in LB and an agricultural loan investigator in TM, has all the qualities we love in an amateur sleuth: determined, smart, and vulnerable all at the same time. And what you'll find in this series you won't find anywhere else (at least that I know of) is the agricultural angle in these mysteries. Sound boring to you? Don't be such a city snob and take a look ;-)
Which brings me to the reason this book didn't quite hit five stars. I keep thinking of those carnival games when you swing the mallet down onto a pad and it send a ringer up a post to the bell and this time the mallet didn't come down quite hard enough to send ring the bell.
It has a great cast of characters: Carolina Slade finds out her BFF Savannah might have approved some bad loans, with even worse things going on around them. Could Savvy's returned ex-boyfriend Teddy be influencing her in a very bad way? Or is there more to the story? Toss in some tension between Slade and romantic-interest Wayne Largo, add a dash of flirtatious adoration from Slade's co-worker Monroe, and bless my soul you have a good southern gumbo, don't you?
The setting--South Carolina's low country--is never boring to read about. The working dynamic between Slade and her boss is too real (ever have a boss you couldn't seem to please no matter how hard you tried?). Plus there's the Gullah culture, with Kamba preaching on the corner, a man with more going on than it seems.
I won't recap the plot because that's even more confusing than the characters' relationships and histories. Perhaps I missed something critical in the way the story unfolded, but as Clark got further and furthing into the telling the whole structure seemed to wobble more and more. Fortunately, she tied things up before it all came crashing down. The plot was -- mostly -- tied up in the end, at least in a satisfactory way. But somehow I still felt like scratching my head at the end: "What just happened here?"
The main character in this 2nd novel of the series, Carolina Slade, has been essentially written as too-stupid-to-live. The author has written Slade as a person who continually feels the need to prove her abilities and her independence to the entire world. Thus, she has created a character who flaunts the parameters of her job description as a federal fraud investigator, puts herself and her co-workers in truly mortal danger continually as a result and then has the audacity to throw fits of righteous indignation when they complain.
By the middle of the book, I couldn't take the character anymore. Every word out of Slade's mouth made me angry. Every thought she had and every action she took made me angry. And since the book is written from her POV only, there is no way to know the actual thoughts and motivations of the characters with whom she interacts. All we get is a repeated discourse on how everything everyone says or does is meant to discriminate against her and stop her from being who she wants to be.
And this is not how her character was written in the first book.
I rarely fail to finish a book, but this is one of those times. If I can't empathize with the main character, if I can't find even one point on which to sympathize or commiserate, then I need to move on.
C. Hope Clark's second installment in the Carolina Slade Mystery Series also relies heavily on Clark's agricultural background without boring the average reader with too much industry specific jargon and events. She uses the business she knows to again weave a tale of mystery filled with real-life issues that we all experience from time-to-time with family and friends. Clark expertly connects these things into another novel with a little bit of everything. It maintains a good pace and nothing about the plot twists is obvious too soon.
Slade, her family, and friends are interesting and complex. I feel connected to them at multiple levels. like real life, some of them are likeable and some of them are not. This book brings us to a new location and a new mystery to solve while building on the personal developments of the series opener. Slade herself is still a very polarizing character who reminds me of several people I know. I still want to slap her and ask her what she is thinking sometimes, but like any real friend I will keep coming back hoping she will make better decisions next time.
I am always thrilled when I find a new-to-me writer that I like and then find out there is a series. I'm not sure how I found the first Carolina Slade mystery but I'm glad I did. I enjoyed that first one. But I think I enjoyed this one even more. I saw more depth to the main characters, Slade and Wayne, much the same as when I meet someone new in 'real life' and learn more about them. I love the fact that Slade isn't law enforcement, CIA, etc. She is an ordinary Jane like so many of us, working a job that isn't glamorous. Yet still she shows us that going above and beyond what is required by your job description can lead to some unexpected consequences. Slade does push the envelope and she does make me wince when she jumps into situations feet first. But that's what makes her such an interesting character.
I also love learning something new when I read a book. And now I know what to do if a haint just won't leave me alone. :-) Can't wait to read the next in this series.
C. Hope Clark did it again with her wildly engaging character, Carolina Slade. Slade is thoughtful and adventurous, kind and strong. She is so interesting to read about in the first person point of view! I love how her thoughts and actions are so realistic. We all make mistakes, so why not a fictional character? I liked the tension brought about through a romantic relationship she has in the novel. I think a love triangle sums it up best. The story was intriguing, and the scene descriptions were on point. Much like the first one, I really got into this novel and found myself stuck in the story "mud". I would definitely recommend this book to those who read mystery and really to just anyone who wants to get lost in a book.
You wouldn't think that making farm loans would be such a dangerous occupation. I guess I always saw farmers as salt of the earth types who worked hard, sold their crops, and repaid their loans. Of course that's if they are really farmers and not drug runners and traffickers in human misery.
When Carolina Slade makes the mistake of thinking she's investigating one thing when it actually is something else entirely chaos ensues. It's fun watching her get out of some self inflicted tight spots while navigating southern backwaters, complicated friendships, and a shaky romance.
And this series is as fast paced and if your an adrenaline junkie - this series is probably the series for you! I will say - "Just like a government agency to under utilize an employees strengths and try to use your sex to hold you back from the more exciting higher paid positions in lieu of thinking those jobs d should usually go to a male. Just make the girl a criminal investigator in whatever government group she is assigned too (USDA) and lets move this love interest asking a little faster....the chemistry is all over the pages. I'm on to book 3 and still recommend you read this series starting with book 1!!
Tidewater Murder is #2 in the Carolina Slade series by C. Hope Clark. I was late to the party, and unfortunately am reading the series in reverse order, having started with Palmetto Poison, which is #3. I really enjoyed Tidewater Murder, and would love to do an in-depth analysis of this book, but will forgo the pleasure because I don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun before they read the book. In the spirit of full-disclosure, a signed copy of this book was given to me by Hope Clark to review, but she fully understands that the review is my honest thoughts on her story, and if I hadn’t liked it I would not review it.
So now, on to what I think of the book...
Characters--Carolina Slade is the star of the story. She is a special investigator for the US Department of Agriculture, a young widow, and mother to pre-teen Ivy and younger Zack. She has been dating Wayne Largo, a real lawman who is a federal investigator for the USDA. Special Agent Largo is a unique blend of macho, take-charge, handsome cowboy and sensitive, protective, thoughtful gentleman. They spend most of the story investigating what started as a simple case of suspected fraud involving Slade’s best friend, Savannah Conroy. Savannah is a professional woman in a man’s world, able to take control and get the respect of the men she is surrounded by, but not afraid to use her femininity if it gets her what she needs. Unfortunately her personal life is not nearly as controlled or orderly as her office. Clark does an excellent job of developing and rounding out these characters until the reader believes they are real people and friends. There is also an excellent cast of supporting characters and extras from all walks of life. It takes almost the entire book to figure out who’s good and who’s bad.
Language—For those who are sensitive to such things, there is very little profanity, and when it is used it’s so appropriate that it barely stands out. What I really loved was Clark’s ability to add the flavor of accents and dialects with a pinch of Spanish and French Creole phrasing so that the characters sound very distinctive, but the text is still easy to read and the touches of foreign words never distract or slow down the narrative. Very few authors that I have read pull this off as masterfully.
Plot—I haven’t pinpointed why, but it took me a little longer than usual to get lost in this novel. Not sure if it was the story or me, so take that for what it’s worth. By the time I got to the last third of the book, I couldn’t put it down and ended up staying up till the wee hours to finish it. What started as a simple audit uncovered a multitude of crimes in a small South Carolina coastal farming community. Clark seamlessly wove together Slade’s personal and professional life through her move into a new home, family struggles, single-mother guilt, new relationships, work politics, the investigation, friendships, physical attacks, emergency room visits, and near drowning. This isn’t a romance, but Clark added just enough attention to Slade and Wayne’s relationship to add another dimension to each of their characters while still leaving plenty to the imagination.
Ending— This ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as Palmetto Poison, but it was still good. I’ve been known to throw books across the room when an ending isn’t up to snuff, and Tidewater Murder remained firmly in my hands. Clark tied up the loose ends for her main characters, but not so much for many of the minor characters.
Dislike—Which brings me to my only negative comment. There were so many wonderful and colorful characters, but at the end it’s left to the reader’s imagination as how most of them ended up. I would have enjoyed knowing a bit more about many of the characters’ backstory and motivations, either throughout the story or as a final wrap-up. I understand that an author only has about 80,000 words in this genre, but some of the minor characters were just a bit too flat for my taste. I don’t know if I want an epilogue, additional chapters, or just more details, but I want to know when Mark Sanderson got involved and how and why. And I still don’t know if Evan’s a good guy or not—that character’s end-of-story was far from satisfying.
Recommendation--I thoroughly enjoyed Tidewater Murder and definitely recommend it. I would give it 4 stars out of 5. Keep in mind it is a murder mystery/suspense novel, and would be rated PG-13 for language, violence, and adult topics if made into a movie. I look forward to reading more by C. Hope Clark. I am determined to read #1, Lowcountry Bribe, before she publishes the fourth Carolina Slade Mystery.
This is the second installment in the Carolina Slade Mystery series. I have not read the first installment, but found that this book stood enough on its own to enjoy it without reading the first one.
Obviously reviews are a personal opinion so some of this may not apply to you, but it really affected my ability to enjoy the book. There was way too much profanity. While some writers think that having their characters curse all the time makes them seem more realistic, I think it makes them seem more fake and a lot more immature than they are meant to be. Without as much profanity, this review would have easily earned another star. Like I said, it doesn’t bother everyone, but just know that you will be reading a curse word in almost every conversation in this book. Another thing that fit’s under personal belief’s is that there is voodoo and haints in this book. The thing that really got me though was that it had absolutely nothing to do with the story; I thought that in the end it would tie in a major part of the story (or at least be interesting). But it didn’t, some of the voodoo didn’t even tie in at the end, almost like it was forgotten. (Small spoiler) For example, a character gets “cursed”, but we never find out who did it. So again I think this book would have flowed a lot better without all the extra hooky spooky junk. There was also a few bedroom scenes that didn’t go into too many details, but it was still wasn’t rated PG if you know what I mean. Some people like books with all that stuff in it, but I am not one of them. (And no, I’m not an old church lady who makes people wash their mouths out with soap, ;) just in case you were wondering.)
Clark does a great job of creating characters. They were all their own person with their own quirks and dialogue that made them unique. I especially like the Monroe character; he was definitely someone that you would give your jello too (that will make sense after you read it ;)). I think Clark's writing style really made the characters come alive. However I did find that the main character, Slade, got annoying after awhile. She kept doing the same thing over and over and wouldn’t listen to Wayne, but complained when he wasn’t listening to her. It’s a really bad thing when the main character gets on your nerves. It’s okay to have a stubborn character in a story, but Slade needs to dial it down in order to at least be tolerable to read.
The beginning of the book start out exciting enough, but as the book went on it just got boring. Mostly because the characters were getting nothing accomplished to solve the case they are working on. While this actually happens in real life, if I am reading a story and nothing happens with the mystery for half of the book, I tend to get board. So the mystery could have used a lot more excitement. However, when it does finally start to pick up, it gets good, with twists and turns to keep you guessing. I wish the entire mystery was like that. Unfortunately, it’s mostly just the characters driving around getting in trouble for no good reason.
All in all Tidewater Murder was okay. Had the mystery been a lot stronger, I think I would have enjoyed this book way more than I did.
I don't know C. Hope Clark personally - I've never had much correspondence with her or met her in person. But I have, for several years now, received her emails "Funds for Writers," which I highly recommend for any aspiring author. The emails contain advice, inspiring stories, announcements of various literary competitions, and also a listing of some publications that are looking for submissions of various sorts. With all the work Mrs. Clark has done helping other writers, I've wanted to read her own work for some time now, and I finally have.
Last night I finished Tidewater Murder: A Carolina Slade Mystery, which is her second book in the Carolina Slade mystery series. Unfortunately, I have not yet read the first book of the series, Lowcountry Bribe, but that didn't interfere with my ability to read, understand, and enjoy Tidewater Murder. And I will happily say that I truly enjoyed reading this novel. [Note - I know this statement doesn't seem to mesh well with my 3-star rating, but let me clarify that by saying I reserve 4-5 stars for masterful works of fiction (Tolstoy, Miller, Kerouac, Elliot, etc), which means 3 stars is about the best most modern books could hope to get from me on a rating scale.] I don't read a lot of contemporary novels, and almost never mysteries, so Tidewater Murder took me entirely by surprise.
From page #1, this book has what it takes to grab the reader. How often do you find both assonance and alliteration on the 1st page of a prose text? And I loved it! Not only is Mrs. Clark able to tell a good story, but she also understands how to use words. We have a glut of popular books right now which contain wonderful stories but are horribly written - this book actually combines the good story and the good writing. I'm a bit snotty when it comes to good writing, but I enjoyed Mrs. Clark's prose immensely. She puts together wonderful sentences, and even engages our mind a bit more with use of real vocabulary. Tidewater Murder takes some thinking to read, and I'm also quite fond of that. A final writing note - unlike many modern/post-modern writers, Mrs. Clark has no fear of adjectives and adverbs, which was another welcome breathe of something new.
And now, to the story - Tidewater Murder is a great story. There's plenty of action and suspense, and you definitely care about the characters and where the story might take them. I really liked Slade, the main character. She's well developed, layered, complex and very interesting/unique; a superior quality female protagonist. Slade works as a federal agricultural investigator, and Mrs. Clark's background in agriculture shines through in these scenes. Slade is a bit risky, a bit crazy, a bit stubborn, and even a bit unbelievable at time...but what good protagonist isn't? That's why they call the experience of reading a "temporary suspension of disbelief."
All in all, I highly recommend this novel for a nice weekend read - 'light' reading, in a sense, perhaps, but very well written, enjoyable, and interesting as well. I look forward to reading more from C. Hope Clark in the near future!
Some friends are as close as sisters. Others closer. Like melt on ice, or your first gasp of breath rising up from a river baptism. Carolina Slade, federal agriculture investigator, considers Savannah Conroy such a friend -- and Savvy’s in trouble. Falsified signatures on a six-figure farm loan, embezzlement, missing tomato crops and murder. The kind of trouble that leads straight to federal prison. Do not pass GO. Do not...
Humph! Not if Slade can help it.
A tornado of wit and warmth, wisecracking Savannah Conroy is one of the most proficient rural loan managers the South Carolina Department of Agriculture has in its arsenal to keep farmers afloat. She’s damn good at her job. In the fifteen years Slade has known her, Savvy’s never missed a stiletto-heeled step. Why now? What, in the name of butter-drenched grits, is going on? And what -- if not everything -- does Savvy’s lying, cheating, cocaine-snorting ex have to do with the predicament she’s in? That Teddy Dawson is back in Savvy’s bed and has generously provided her a luxury Mercedes convertible are undisputed facts.
Could it be the love and faith of a good Southern woman caused this manipulating scoundrel to change? Not likely. Once a lowlife maggot, always a lowlife maggot. At least that’s what Slade’s gut is screaming.
In TIDEWATER MURDER, second installment of the Carolina Slade Mystery series (ISBN10: 1611942578, ISBN13: 978-1611942576, Bell Bridge Books, April 2013, 290 pp), the gutsy protagonist launches into an unorthodox investigation and once again drags her cohort, the charming Monroe Prevatte, with her. From the rooftop of a shed imprisoning abused Haitian workers to the marshes and fields surrounding St. Helena to the dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean, author C. Hope Clark invites readers to join her on another clever, fast-paced thrill ride through the Lowcountry of her beloved South Carolina.
Even Slade’s beau, Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo, can’t deter her dogged slog toward justice. When it comes to guts and loyalty, the damn woman has blinders on. And Heaven knows Wayne has tried, even going so far as to have Slade officially removed from the case.
But homesteading a backseat has never been Slade’s forté. Not on her job. Not as the widowed single mother of two. Certainly, not in Wayne Largo’s arms. Why, on God’s green earth, would she change her modus vivendi now?
In TIDEWATER MURDER, Carolina Slade gives as good as she gets -- and the baddies in this mystery dish out trouble aplenty. Fans of the series will continue to love this spirited, sassy heroine. I know I do. I’m giving TIDEWATER MURDER five rousing stars and look forward to the next installment by this talented author.
When I started reading this book, Tidewater Murder, I realized that it seemed as though a commentator was describing the story background while the characters each had their own voice. The scenery descriptions and historical elements were authentic to Columbia, South Carolina, and its surrounding area. I was impressed by the author’s knowledge of, not only farming, but authenticity of southern colloquial expressions, as opposed to the northeast version I am familiar with. Spade, responsible for insuring the federal loan was secure, was determined to get to the bottom of who was responsible. That leads her onto an investigation that, maybe, she shouldn’t handle on her own. Her determination to prove herself kept me thinking, “Why, girl? Why don’t you trust men?” Romance was in the air when a voodoo hex increases the drama. How could anyone not respond to a man who said, “I still see someone I care deeply about putting herself in harm’s way?” As the book advances into many contemporary issues – a widow raising two children, her job as a Special Projects Representative for the US Department of Agriculture, friendships, mystery and murder. She progressively gets in deeper and deeper as her job draws her into exploring further into the community’s troubling events. While describing southern architecture and scenery, she brings the characters alive with specific personalities that evolve the book as it’s mysteries conjunct with murder…and maybe Spade’s demise, as well as Special Agent Wayne Largo’s. This is a book that when you start to read, it pulls you in so you can’t put it down until you have read the last word. I received a free copy of Tidewater Murder after I contacted the author, C. Hope Clark. As you may have felt reading my review, I loved the book as it kept my attention nonstop to the end. Check out her website and listen to her podcast to understand her writing and cultural knowledge. http://chopeclark.com
It is often hard to enjoy a sequel without having read the previous books. This is not the case with C. Hope Clark's Tidewater Murder, the second book in her Tidewater Carolina Slade Mystery Series. The book rebuilds the personal life of Slade as she moves her two children following the death of her husband and a promotion to new town. Simultaneously, she receives news that her best friend, Savvy, who is also an employee of the Department of Agriculture, office is under an audit. Savvy is also possibly to be a suspect in an investigation for fraud. Slade rushes to Savvy's aid, compromising her position and career.
Slade further complicates her personal life by interfering with with investigations of Senior Specialist Agent Wayne Largo whom Slade has been dating. Slade and her business partner, Monroe, the loan director operating the audit conduct their own investigation while looking out for the financial interest of the Agriculture Department. They have an underlying motive of trying to figure a way to recover the money to protect Savvy's reputation, but there seem to be so many complications cropping up.....Savvy's shady boyfriend, Teddy, seems involved.
The audit turns into a full blown investigation and all evidence points to Slade's friend, Savvy having issued a six figure loan to a missing farmer with fraudulent mismatched signatures and a crop Savvy never witnessed. Dead bodies appear and one is the missing farmer. The mystery plot thickens as Slade and her colleagues follow the money, uncovering modern day illegal immigration labor, slavery, voodoo and drugs.
I really enjoyed the mystery. There were several unpredictable turns and deaths as well as rescues. I look forward to more mysteries from C. Hope Clark in the future.
In this second volume in the Carolina Slade mystery series, author Hope Clarke hones her skills as a novelist with great plotting, consistent character development, and a microscopic look at a world most of us know nothing about.
Clark is a former 25-year employee of the US Department of Agriculture, her husband a 30-year veteran of federal law enforcement. So it follows that her protagonist, Carolina Slade, is a rural loan manager for USDA. When her best friend, a loan manager in another county, comes under investigation for a potentially fraudulent loan, Slade is called in by an auditor to look at the paperwork. There are major discrepencies in the loan, and Slade feels compelled to find out what's really going on.
The Lowcountry marshes and thick undergrowth of coastal South Carolina hide a multitude of evils. The reader is quickly pulled into the investigation as Slade and her auditor/friend Monroe try to find the tomato farmer who (supposedly) signed the loan, and search his property for equipment, but are quickly turned away by Very Scary People. No sign of the owner, but the terrified worker are emaciated. Slade pegs them as "slaves" and worries that her friend, who is too smart to screw up may have screwed up big time.
Then the investigation turns deadly as the borrower's body parts and remains of his shrimp boat are found off the South Carolina coast, and Slade's boyfriend USDA investigator Wayne Largo shows up to get to the bottom of an increasingly difficult problem that moves from the tomato patch to human trafficking, drugs, and murder.
Very good read; I look forward to Number 3 due out this February.
Hope Clark's Tidewater Murder gives the reader another page-turner mystery in the Carolina Slade series. From beginning to end, the action never stops. Action comes both physically and emotionally in this book, giving it a more human quality than most mysteries.
Carolina Slade’s friendship with co-worker Savannah Conroy at the state Agriculture office takes the first test, which continues throughout the story. Others try repeatedly to remove Slade from the case due to her friendship, but she pursues on in trying to prove Savannah innocent. They eventually still go out to dinners and for drinks in the process of finding out who actually did the crime. Savannah proves the friendship true by helping Slade through her other personal trials.
Slade must also navigate not only working, but romantic relations with Wayne. He tries many times to remove her from the case at hand but out of possible conflict of interest and his own interest in her. Savannah helps in this department by giving Slade a place to turn when another male agent, Monroe, acts upon his feelings for Slade and almost distracts her from her primary relationship with Wayne. The relationship between them, even when sexual, receives very tasteful descriptions to show its secondary, yet important, place in the story.
In these ways, Tidewater Murder shows how psychology plays an important role in mystery writing. Relationships take prominent places in showing how solving a crime needs human elements to flow as life does. This makes the novel easier for the reader to relate with and keeps her coming back for more.
Hope comes at her mystery from a different direction--not from professional law enforcement or from amateur sleuths, but from the direction of a federal investigator from the Department of Agriculture. Yep, this story took place in the world of tomatoes. And who knew how nerve-racking tomato crops could be?
When the papers for a loan sport different signatures, Slade's best friend, an ag agent in Beaufort, SC, becomes suspected of embezzlement and fraud. Slade investigates, intent on proving her friend innocent of all wrong-doing. The case gets complicated when a tomato farmer dies in a shrimp boat explosion. Murder takes the case out of Slade's hands and drops it squarely in the hands of her lover and colleague, Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo. Slade is supposed to stop investigating, but she doesn't. Of course. Soon, she's tangled in the dark world of drugs, slavery, and murder. Her fumbling investigation puts her in the line of fire.
Tidewater Murder is a whodunit populated by realistic, and sometimes eccentric people. Slade is a widowed mother of two with a career that frequently takes her out of town. Her friend Savvy is smart and sophisticated, but dumb enough to fall again for a guy she should've kept at arm's length the first time. Fellow investigator Monroe, with his barely concealed crush on Slade, is caring and straight-laced and totally dedicated to the woman who considers him only a friend. Wayne is both no-nonsense and romantic, and the sparks between him and Slade added spice to a novel full of wit and tension.
It is hard to put down “Tidewater Murder”, the second book in the Carolina Slade mystery series. Author C Hope Clark writes with a fast-paced, page-a-minute style that keeps the story moving and the reader on edge. Every word, every sentence drives the story forward. As a follow up to “Lowcountry Bribe”, it builds on the suspense, crackling with anticipation in both plot and character.
Best friends, romantic interest with a professional conflict and single motherhood blend seamlessly in the professionally driven and loyal character of Carolina Slade. Her best friend, Savannah Conroy, is implicated of fraud and Carolina heads to her aid. She goes despite the potential professional conflict investigating her best friend. Once there, the investigation exposes criminal activity and the line is further blurred as Special Agent Wayne Largo – the special man in Carolina’s life – joins the investigation.
The stakes raise and plot thickens as the investigation delves from loan fraud into drugs, human trafficking and murder. Carolina remains undeterred as professional and physical threats escalate, driven by clearing her friend’s name and doing the right thing. Wayne cites a conflict of interest to get her off the case but that does not stop her. She continues to investigate, each clue muddying the waters until sudden clarity hits in a striking climax.
The setting adds to the story, an important backdrop to the high-tension action and character actions and interactions. Clark has once again pulled off an amazing story that hits every mark.
Normally I like to savor my mysteries. I restrict myself to reading one or two chapters a day. I can afford to do that since I feel like I have either purchased or borrowed nearly every American or British mystery ever written since 1974; I don’t feel in as much of a hurry to read every mystery ever written. Having stated all this, I just want to say that I found it impossible to stick to my two chapter a day reading rule while reading Tidewater Murder by C. Hope Clark. Clark’s narrative flows like the Tidewater bays and ocean she sets her murder mystery around. I wondered at first how a mystery based on agriculture agents would keep my attention, but from the first paragraph I was hooked. C. Hope’s Clark protagonist Carolina Slade is witty and impetuous, yet full of integrity and the need to do what's right. I wish that all of us would have friends like Slade that would fight for us and keep going like their life depended on it - which in Slade's case it did. I also found the history and description of place compelling and beautiful. How funny that I found myself in that area not long after reading Tidewater Murder. The area felt like an old friend. And Hope Clark's explanations of the seedier side of agriculture wars blended in with the story wonderfully - I never felt like I was being taught - I was too caught up in her colorful characters and story. I can't wait to read the other books in the series. I highly recommend Tidewater Murder Shelby Oppermann The County Times Newspaper Columnist: Wanderings of an aimless mind"
C. Hope Clark’s Tidewater Murder finds Carolina Slade immersed in a far-reaching mystery that begins with an investigation into questionable loan paperwork that appears to finger her long-time friend Savannah as the culprit. Called on to investigate, Carolina has to navigate her friendship with Savvy, her relationship with Wayne Largo who has come in with the strong arm of the law, and her “what the hell is it anyway?” relationship with her co-worker Monroe and care for her children all while figuring out what the hell happened in the sleepy south.
But the sleepy south isn’t quite as sleepy as you’d think.
The web that Ms. Clark weaves in Tidewater Murder is intricate and daring, the pieces of the mystery so tightly intertwined that unraveling them throughout the course of the book keeps you guessing until the last minute. The characters, down to the most minor, are compelling, their interactions authentic. The ups and downs that plague any relationships are masterfully portrayed, between Slade and Savvy, Wayne, and Monroe. You won’t find any one-dimensional characters or relationships here. Slade’s take-no-prisoners approach to anything she does is fun to watch even as it makes you cringe because you relate to it far too easily.
This is the first book I’ve ready by Ms. Clark, but you can sure bet I’ll be reading the first book in the series, Lowcountry Bribe, the first chance I get. And I’ll be following the series from here on out.
Full disclosure: I'm a Hope Clark fan. I've followed her Funds for Writers site and newsletter for years, and I love her editorials and voice. Her advice to writers is always sensible and right on, and I treasure that newsletter in my inbox! I absolutely loved her Shy Writer Reborn too, and when she came out with her first novel, Lowcountry Bribe, I was thrilled. It was a page-turner! The second in the series, Tidewater Murder, was also well-written. Clark is adept at narrating a story with skill. The main character, a fed named 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 and the added dimension of another rival for her affection, Monroe, and wished she had introduced that storyline at the beginning of the book instead of the middle. I'm not a big reader of mysteries except some Jack Patterson and Dan Brown, but I do think it was a decent story, though I found myself "skimming" sections I was confused about, about liens and paperwork, at the beginning of the book--I would've preferred Clark introduce the Wayne/Monroe storyline at the beginning instead, but that's because I always prefer a good love story! Overall, a good read.(less)Blog forthcoming!
Tidewater Murder was a pleasant read for several reasons. The violence isn't overly graphic, but still makes it clear as to what is/has happened. The 'colorful' language is kept to a minimum, so that it's impactful when used. Also the characters are appropriately developed according to their part in the story (main vs. secondary).
Each character has specific traits unique to the character. For example, Carolina Slade uses nicknames for people like calling her Senior Special Agent boyfriend 'lawman' and referring to a trio of men who are persons of interest as The Musketeers.
I like that I didn't have to suspend any reality to enjoy the story. And I got an education in Gullah culture and big business agriculture while reading this book.
A few things detracted from my enjoyment. First, I never warmed up to one of the main characters. This character reminded me too much of someone in my life who often irritates me. Obviously, this is my problem and not the story's problem. Second, in a few places I felt like I needed to open googlemaps to keep the locations straight in my head. A little map of South Carolina in the front of the book would have been helpful.
Overall, a great summer read especially here in the south where I could easily relate to the summer heat of the setting.
Tidewater Murder is the second book in C. Hope Clark’s Carolina Slade novels. I have to say that I think it is even better than the first novel, Lowcountry Bribe. Her characters are spot-on and full of personality. Each one of them is a fully drawn person that you think you might recognize if you ever saw them in South Carolina. Specifically well done is Slade herself. She’s not perfect, nor does she aspire to be. She goes and gets herself into a muddle because she reacts without thinking a problem through. How many of us can relate to that? I know I can. The plot of the novel is intricate, and Clark gives us enough descriptive detail of the setting that we can at least imagine what we think it looks like – especially those of us who have never been to South Carolina. This mystery involves Slade’s best friend Savannah and her office mates when they must investigate what has happened to some mortgaged tomato crops guaranteed by the Department of Agriculture. Also along in the investigation is Slade’s new man, Wayne Largo.Lots of crazy things happen when they are all out investigating the central mystery and round up and/or dispose of some really bad guys. A very entertaining read. I look forward to the next Carolina Slade mystery. Very soon, I hope.