Genre: FICTION, MYSTERY/SUSPENSE
Title: HELL SWAMP
Author: SUSAN WHITFIELD
Maybe the planets are in alignment or something or maybe my boss just knows what type of books I like, but I’ve been blessed of late with some outstanding books to review and this mystery featuring tough, feisty and savvy State Investigator Logan Hunter is definitely one of them. The author sets the tone right away with a poem, warning of “a wrecked place, the devil’s keep” where “death is always near”. The mystery begins with Agent Hunter’s gruesome investigation of the gory, gutted body of a woman hanging from a chain—bloody entrails scattered about. Prepare yourself for a suspenseful roller coaster ride with plenty of suspects, obstacles, twists, turns and horror—including a sociopath who is bent on stopping the investigation by any means necessary. All that, plus mutilated animals, Satan worshippers and snakes!
Okay, the mystery is definitely engaging but what really captivated me most was the author’s writing style and her skillful portrayal of her characters. Not only that, but she was able to make it as if I were right there in North Carolina; why, I could just about feel the humidity and almost taste the vinegar-based barbeque. And her usage of colloquialisms (expressions such as “dang nabbit” or “dadgum”, and “yonder”) are scattered perfectly, not too heavy, just enough for flavor. But let me get back to the wonderful characters: Logan, the protagonist, is tough and competent, yet feminine, romantic and vulnerable. And the supporting cast of colorful characters literally leaps off the page. One’s body is described as “a corpse of corn”, another has a “navel mouth”, and yet another has “piranha teeth and a nose like a bull’s hairy gonad”. Someone grins ”like a mule eating briars”. Whoa! Is that vivid imagery or what?
The book jacket tells us the author is a life-long resident of North Carolina, ergo it’s no small wonder how she was able to put the reader right there. Susan also published two previous mystery novels so she’s no rookie and that explains the writing skills. Look for Genesis Beach and Just North of Luck. In conclusion, what do we have here? Well, we’ve got a well-written, suspenseful mystery with a likeable protagonist, vivid
imagery, a taste of horror, a little tongue-in-cheek humor and even romance. What’s not to like?
Recommended, by reviewer: Jan Evan Whitford, Allbooks Reviews, 08 June 2010
Published by: L&L Dreamspell ©2009
ISBN 978-1-60318-094-8 Trade paperback,
195 pages $15.95
Thanks a bunch, Jan!