- Some Welcome Home. Waterville, ME: Five Star, 2005.
- First Murder in Advent. Waterville, ME: Five Star, 2006.
- Soldier on the Porch. Waterville, ME: Five Star, 2007.
- Missing, Presumed Wed. Detroit, MI: Five Star, 2009.
- Loved Honor More. Detroit, MI: Five Star, 2012.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been in the news in recent years, but the Vietnam War still has its place in the psyche of the generation that came of age in the 1960s and 1970s. This series, set in the 1970s, follows four individuals as they transition from active service into the civilian world. Elizabeth Pepperhawk, an Army nurse, and Avivah Rosen, a former military policewoman are the main characters. Both women struggle with what they saw and did during their years in service, and Elizabeth is burdened with a drinking problem. First at Fort Bragg, and elsewhere in the state in later books, Elizabeth and Avivah, and their friend Benny Kirkpatrick, support each other, confront the demons of their pasts and make new lives, even as they stumble into death and foul deeds. The novels capture the flavor of the era and raise issues that are still with us today.
This trilogy presents elements of the North Carolina’s coastal past in a new ways. Sunday Everette, who grew up among the African-American community on Peas Island, displays the strength, heroism, and sea-knowledge of her community. However, her world changes when the coast off Cape Hatteras becomes a battleground as American and English ships try to protect the ships bringing supplies to the armies fighting World War II in Europe. German U-boats threaten the Allied ships, but one U-boat has a different mission: to transfer Nazi gold and a few special Germans to a new life in America. Sunday becomes involved with one German, and their lives play out in a world of war, greed, and betrayal.
The hope of becoming part of a “church family” has lured many people to fish fries, church yard sales, Bible study groups, and every manner of church-sponsored fundraisers and events. Beatrice, Charlotte, Jessie, Louise, and Margaret were members of Hope Springs Community Church, but it was creating a church cookbook that brought them together. While sharing their recipes, they shared the story of their lives and they pooled their strenghts. As the series has gone on, they have faced illness, separation, and death, all the while supporting each other and valuing the friendship they share. The author, Lynne Hinton, is a minister; her knowledge of, and affection for, women like Beatrice, Charlotte, Jessie, Louise, and Margaret is evident in all the novels.
Madeline “Mac” Maclin is the former Miss Parkland, Parkland being a fictitious city in the North Carolina Piedmont. Mac has left the pageant world behind for a new career as a private investigator. Love (or, the hope of love) takes her to the small town of Celosia (also fictional) where she sets out to solve mysteries and wear down her boyfriend’s reluctance to give up his questionable businesses and settle down.
Celosia is a town with its share of good folks and crazies. Each novel is populated with memorable people from boyfriend Jerry to local bookstore owner Georgia, to Ted Stacy (potential rival to Jerry), to the “Pageantoids”–beauty pageant enthusiasts who are sure that Mac’s coaching could help some local girl become Miss North Carolina. As Mac struggles to get people to take her seriously, danger and humor intertwine.
- Hammer Spade and the Case of the Missing Husband. Timberlake, NC: Righter Publishing, 2006.
- Hammer Spade and the Diamond Smugglers. Timberlake, NC: Righter Publishing Co., 2006.
- Hammer Spade and the Merchants of Death. Timberlake, NC: Righter Publishing Co., 2007.
- Hammer Spade and the Ring of Fire. Timberlake, NC: Righter Publishing Co., 2007.
- Hammer Spade and the Midnight Treader. Timberlake, NC: Righter Publishing Co., 2008.
- Hammer Spade and the Long Shooter. Timberlake, NC: Righter Publishing Co., 2009.
- Hammer Spade and the Inca Curse. Timberlake, NC: Righter Publishing Co., 2009.
- Hammer Spade and the Four Horseman. (2 vols.) Timberlake, NC: Righter Publishing Co., 2010-2011.
I can’t help but like a series that came about, in part, from a librarian’s suggestion. Dorothy Hodder, one of the great librarians at New Hanover County Public Library, suggested to E. B. Alston, already the author of two thrillers, that he put more intrigue into his books. This led Mr. Alston to start a story with a private detective as the main character. The story became the novel that begins this series.
Hammer Spade is a detective and bail bondsman living in Durham, North Carolina. Like many fictional private detectives, his office is in a seedy part of town and his personal life is bleak. The first novel in the series introduces Hammer; his love interest Alonia Lockheart; Shidee Callaway, who is Hammer’s streetwise assistant; and several members of Alonia’s interesting family. These characters reappear in later novels where they are joined by Hammer’s friends, Dave Quigley and Jack Kane. Kane, like Hammer, is a Desert Storm veteran.
Each novel opens in North Carolina, as Hammer is asked to handle a case, but the action often shifts to other–and far more exotic–locales. South Africa, Russia, Kuwait, Tibet, and Brazil are just some of the places that Hammer’s cases take him. Only the books with a full North Carolina setting have individual entries in this blog.
Jersey Barnes was a Marine MP and a government anti-terrorism agent. After leaving government service, she moved back to Wilmington to open up her own security firm. When even that feels like too much, Jersey decides to retire to the less stressful life of being a pub owner. Running a pub, marrying her boyfriend, it’s called settling down. It sounds good, but Jersey is a sociable gal and everyone from her boyfriend to family friends to the federal government wants Jersey to handle just one more case. These cases involve everything from kidnapping to blackmail to computer crimes to drug dealing–and murder. Jersey can handle what the bad guys send her way, but family and friends are another story. Jersey’s pill-trading, poker playing dad, his girlfriend, Fran, a computer-hacker neighbor, and Jersey’s hunky business partner, Ox, complicate her life and add humor and energy to these mysteries. Wilmington itself is a character in the books, and fans of the city will recognize familiar places.
In the first book in this series, Sam Blackman is a wounded Iraq War veteran who comes to Asheville for rehabilitation. A job offer from the head of a local security firm provides him with a new career path, even though his employer dies before Sam’s first day on the job. Sam teams up, professionally and personally, with the dead woman’s sister and together Sam and Nakayla Robertson investigate routine and not-so-routine occurrences in Asheville and the surrounding area.
Asheville’s literary past figures in the novels, and each book is rich in local history and culture. This series nicely weaves the city’s interesting past with contemporary elements such as Sam’s military service in Iraq.
- The Curse. Edgewater, FL: Resplendence Publishing, 2007.
- The Cult. Edgewater, FL: Resplendence Publishing, 2008.
- The Quest. Edgewater, FL: Resplendence Publishing, 2010.
Maddie James builds this series on the fierce history of the pirate Edward Teach (Blackbeard) and the continuing interest in pirate lore. The novels move back and forth between the 1700s and the present and feature bits of history, mayhem, the supernatural, and star-crossed lovers.
- Appalachian Paradise. Boone, NC: High County Publishers, 2002.
- Emeralds in the Snow. Boone, NC: High County Publishers, 2004.
- Murder at Blue Falls: The Horse Found the Body. Boone, NC: High County Publishers, 2006.
- Perfect for Framing. Boone, NC: High County Publishers, 2008.
- One Shot Too Many. Banner Elk, NC: Ingalls Publishing Group, 2011.
Maggie Bishop’s action-packed novels are all set in the North Carolina mountains and feature an unforgettable cast of characters. In her contemporary novels, you’ll find mystery, nature, camping, hiking, skiing, and always a little romance. The novels are centered around four cousins – Wes, Lucky, Tucker, and Grady. Bishop’s first two novels feature Wes and Lucky and take place in and around Boone and Appalachian State University while her later two novels take place in Banner Elk and Lees-McRae College.
Set in the mountains of North Carolina during the early 1960s, the books in the Maggie Valley trilogy follow the Weems family as they go through life in a small valley town in Haywood County. Jessie and Tom Weems have ten children, with unique talents and personalities. The books are narrated by Livy Two, their second oldest daughter who is twelve years old and full of moxie. Livy Two writes her own songs, plays the guitar, and generally takes after her father. Mountain music and song lyrics are included in many of the chapters, creatively explaining how Livy Two sees the relationships between family members and describing their way of life. The Weems family is also joined by the cantankerous Grandma Horace and an affable pet dog, Uncle Hazard. While nothing ever seems to be easy for the Weems family, their ties stay strong as they experience financial problems, health problems, and a major accident. The novels explore the relationships among all the Weems children, but pay particular attention to three of the Weems daughters – Livy Two, Louise, and Jitters – as they come into their own.