Narrator: Courtney Patterson
Format: audiobook, ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon, supplied by publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: cozy mystery, mystery, relationship fiction, Southern fiction, women's fiction
Series: Carolina Tales #1
Length: 9 hours and 55 minutes
on April 11, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
From the Author of the Best-selling Liz Talbot Mystery Series comes a novel about family and secrets, and the lengths we’ll go to in order to protect both.
Can this charming do-gooder carry the day?
Charleston, SC. Hadley Cooper has a big heart. So when the easy-going private investigator gets a request from a new friend to stake out her husband’s extramarital activities, she immediately begins surveillance. And when her client is discovered dead on her kitchen floor, the Southern spitfire is certain the cheater is the culprit… even though he has the perfect alibi: Hadley herself.
Flustered since she observed the cad four hours away in Greenville at the time of the murder, the determined PI desperately searches for clues to tie him to the crime. But with her policeman ex-boyfriend arrests a handy suspect, Hadley fears a guilty man is about to walk free.
Can this Palmetto-State sleuth make an impossible connection to prevent a miscarriage of justice?
With dry wit and delightful dialogue, Susan M. Boyer delivers an eccentric, vegan gumshoe sure to appeal to any fan of Southern women’s fiction. With her merry band of sassy friends, Hadley Cooper is a Lowcountry detective you won’t soon forget.
Big Trouble on Sullivan’s Island is the engaging first book in the Carolina Tales series. If you like strong heroines, quirky sisterhoods, and a plenty of Southern charm, then you’ll love Susan M. Boyer’s wonderful whodunit.
Read Big Trouble on Sullivan’s Island and take a trip to the lush Lowcountry today!
Everyone knows that something that is too good to be true generally is. Although they also say never to look a gift horse in the mouth – except that the Trojans really should have when that big, fancy wooden horse was wheeled up to their gates.
I do know that the cliche about the horse doesn’t actually refer to the infamous historical incident, but the combination of cliches absolutely does apply when Charleston private investigator Hadley Cooper is asked whether she is willing to house sit her dream house on the beach of Sullivan’s Island, just across the Ben Sawyer Bridge from Charleston.
As the story begins, before the titular ‘big trouble’ visits the island, Hadley Cooper is busily NOT celebrating her 40th birthday, as her birthday is also the anniversary of her mother’s death. She’s certainly not expecting to have either a beautiful friendship, a gorgeous house or a puzzling and heartbreaking case to drop into her lap, all on that day.
But that’s what happens.
First, there’s the house. She knows the offer is too good to be true – but she can’t resist. She’s been mooning over that house all through its construction, as she regularly includes Sullivan’s Island on her morning bike ride. She investigates the client as thoroughly as she can – which is very – but can’t find a catch in the offer. So she takes it and tries desperately not to fall in love with this temporary arrangement that seems to have been built just for her.
She also finds a circle of friends that draws her right in, led by the charismatic, dynamic Eugenia Ladson, a woman just tailor-made to step into the aching place in Hadley’s heart where her mother’s ghost still lingers. It seems like kismet.
At least it does until her new, dear friend is murdered, and Hadley realizes that she, herself, doing her job to investigate Eugenia’s estranged husband to find evidence of his infidelity, is the bastard’s alibi for the murder of his wife. A situation which can’t possibly be allowed to stand no matter how much the logic of the situation gets in Hadley’s way.
Escape Rating A-: I picked this up because I love the author’s Liz Talbot mysteries (start with Lowcountry Boil) and I was hoping for more of the same. To the point where I kept looking for Liz to turn up in the background somewhere. Liz doesn’t, and shouldn’t, but the two series do have a similar tone and feel of small town, tight knit coziness, so if you like one you’ll like the other.
But Hadley’s doesn’t get any assistance from any family ghosts. Instead, as this is the first book in a series, we see her put together her own ‘Scooby gang’, which includes her mentors – a retired cop and a retired PI, her new friends on Sullivan’s Island, and quite possibly her ex-boyfriend (he’s ex at the moment, at least) who just so happens to be the lead investigator on Eugenia’s death for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
This case is a too-many-cooks affair, with the police arresting the wrong – but easy – suspect, Eugenia’s friends taking the investigation into their own hands more than they should, and Hadley trying to herd a whole bunch of cats who really don’t want to be herded. The comedy of errors and misdirection make the story every bit as quirky as the Stephanie Plum series without going nearly so far over the top.
Hadley is a very competent investigator, and not nearly so much of a trouble magnet as Plum. That this is a case where someone has used Hadley’s competence against her and the investigation is part of what makes the whole thing so hard to solve.
But it’s still a whole lot of fun to watch as this band of friends, brothers and very quirky sisters comes together to bring justice for the woman who got them all together. And it’s just that little bit more delightful in the audiobook, as the reader gets the feeling of not just being inside Hadley’s head but following along as she investigates and bonds with a fantastic group of women who I hope will become permanent figures in the series.
As much fun as I had with the mystery, there was always that sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop in regards to that ‘gift horse’ of a house. The way that it both was, and wasn’t, too good to be true and the way that Hadley learned that terrible, wonderful truth, turned out to be the perfect ending for this excellent blend of cozy mystery, women’s fiction, and Southern charm. And also made it the perfect book to read, or listen to, this Mother’s Day weekend.
A surprise that I will leave for you to discover, in the hope that it will bring the same smile to your face as it did to mine.