Those readers who complain about amateur sleuths who enthusiastically jump into investigations might want to check out C. Hope Clark's first Carolina Slade mystery, Lowcountry Bribe. Slade is the most reluctant sleuth I've come across in a book. But, don't mess with a woman when her children are threatened.
Carolina Slade (Slade) is the county manager for the Dept. of Agriculture in Charleston County, South Carolina. She approves and handles loans to rural residents. She admits she spends more time trying to get the money back because of the poverty in rural South Carolina. Slade is a black and white person who firmly believes in following the rules. When one of her farmers, Jesse Rawlings, offers her a bribe, she hesitates only for a short time before reporting the attempted bribe. Her office is already in turmoil following the disappearance of her boss and the suicide of a man in the office. If she had known the trouble she was bringing down on herself and her family, she might have let it slip by unnoticed.
Slade doesn't need any uncertainties in life. Her marriage is lousy, and she's only hesitating about filing for divorce because of her two kids. In fact, the situation at home is so uncomfortable that she and her husband are waiting each other out to see who will file for divorce first. It won't take much to push her over the line. Alan's reaction to the attempted bribery might be just enough.
Slade is annoyed when Wayne Largo, Senior Special Agent form the Inspector General Office in Atlanta, shows up in response to her phone call. Wayne and his co-worker, Eddie, seem to be interested in investigating more than an attempt at bribery. Now, she's forced to become a "Cooperating Individual" in what Largo refers to as a teaching case. Slade's reluctant to force the issue, and, when she feels threatened, she just wants to get the case over. But, the set-up goes wrong, and Slade is left hanging out there by herself. Now, she has to worry about herself, and, even worse, her children have been threatened.
Slade isn't a typical sleuth. She was reluctant to get involved, but, with her view of life as black and white, she felt obligated. This isn't the typical book I read. I'm not fond of women and children in jeopardy books. But, Slade is a fascinating character, reluctant to get involved in her own life. And, suddenly, she's forced over the edge. Slade is going to have to take action.
Lowcountry Bribe deals with a lifestyle most of us are not familiar with, a rural community where people are often poor and desperate. C. Hope Clark shows us that crime and corruption are not limited to cities. Rural life can be just as gritty. It takes a strong woman to work with the good ol' boys day after day. And, it takes a strong woman like Slade to fight for her family and what's right, and do it without the back-up she expected.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
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My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.