I love a book where I cannot guess the outcome right away.
This book keeps you in suspense until the very end. I loved reading about the places in the book where the characters visited. Since I am from the area, I could just see the whole picture unfolding in my mind. Such a great, comfortable and easy read.
Carolina Reckoning is the debut novel by suspense writer Lisa Carter. It tells the tale what happens when a wife discovers proof of her husband's infidelity, only to have him die before she's able to confront him. When police discover Frank was fatally shot in his car, Alison automatically becomes the main suspect. There's little evidence with which to charge or exonerate her. Actually, there's very little evidence at all at first. Frank's briefcase and smartphone are both missing. Frank's death leaves Alison and her teenage children with nothing but questions and debt. Six months later, Frank's murder has become a cold case. Alison takes a job at Weathersby Historic Park, where it becomes immediately apparent that none of the directors can stand each other. Her daughter, Claire, is being bullied by members of her former social set. And the investigating detective has become a regular visitor at the family's home.
There are two plots in Carolina Reckoning: the murder and the romance between Alison and Mike. By far, I preferred the murder mystery. More than once I thought I knew who the suspect was, only to be proven wrong. Who wanted Frank dead? Who shot at Alison using the same weapon that was used to kill her husband? The motive, when finally revealed, felt a bit confusing but these things are never straightforward. There are also a couple of red herrings thrown in for good measure. In contrast, the romantic element felt weak. I was surprised that an investigator would so easily cross the line from professional to personal in such a short time. Alison, despite being described as an â€˜abused' wife, also seems willing to quickly jump into another relationship and doesn't appear to have any concerns that Mike might turn out to be another Frank. The Christian theme of forgiveness runs throughout the book, as Alison goes through the process of forgiving Frank for his actions toward her while he lived. I particularly appreciated that she made a commitment to God early in the book, instead of it happening toward the end and just before the big reveal as is often seen in Christian fiction.
Thank you to Abingdon Press for my free copy of Carolina Reckoning, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Mike Barefoot is a homicide detective in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has been assigned the Monaghan case. Frank Monaghan has been found shot in the head in his car just a few miles from home. Mike's first meeting with Frank's widow, Alison Monaghan, is when she is told for the first time about her husband's murder. He soon begins to rely on the God his granny had taught him about and surrenders his life to Him. As his investigation gets underway, he becomes more and more convinced that Alison did not murder her husband. He spends more time with her and begins discussing the case and soon they have formed a loose partnership to find the killer. Mike grows to love Alison and her two teenage children. However, after months pass, the killer still has not been caught and soon strikes again.
Alison Monaghan has known deep inside that her husband has been unfaithful to her many times, but now she has proof. Then, the police show up and tell her he's dead. Now what is she to do? Her husband used to take care of everything and now, after reading his will, she discovers their finances are a mess. She needs a job, so she goes to work at a local historical site where she used to volunteer. She is incredibly angry and hurt at her husband's infidelity, but still feels no one had the right to kill him. She vows to discover his killer. As her search begins, she realizes she can't keep doing life on her own and gives her life to the God of her best friend. She begins reading through the Bible, attending church and praying. She finds a peace she has never known before. She finds love with Mike. She also finds out who killed her husband.
I really enjoyed the plot and the mystery had plenty of twists and turns to hold my interest. One thing I didn't like was the two main characters almost simultaneously giving their lives to God. I thought the chances very unrealistic to happen in this manner. I read a lot of Christian fiction and am thankful for the Christian themes in this story, just not the timing of the conversions. I did like the relationship between Mike and Alison's children and his interest in their lives. I also liked the conflict between the two males interested in gaining Alison's affections. I am looking forward to more mysteries from this author and hope readers will take the time to take part in this mystery.
I enjoyed the premise of Lisa Carter's debut novel, Carolina Reckoning, with a woman faced with the infidelity of her husband and then his murder, losing her chance to ever ask him the reason for his betrayal. As Alison attempts to come to terms with her loss, she is confronted with a detective who believes she may be responsible for her husband's death. While there is much to enjoy about this story ~ the faith elements, an interracial romance, an elusive killer ~ the waters get a little muddied halfway through as the story flounders and Alison's behaviour borders on the unrealistic. That said, I like where Lisa was trying to take the story and the faith elements were particularly well handled as Alison and Mike wrestle with God's promises in light of their difficult circumstances. Carolina Reckoning proves Lisa's talent and I look forward to her continuting to grow her craft and abilities.
From the back cover: Alison wanted her husband gone, not dead...
When 30-something housewife, Alison Monaghan discovers proof of her husband's infidelity in a photograph with a mysterious woman, she must decide how to confront Frank when he returns home from work. Despite the influence of her best friend Valerie, a strong Christian, Alison remains aloof from God and is determined to handle this crisis her own way. But Alison may not get that chance. Frank never makes it home. Soon his body is found on a lonely back-country road in antebellum Weathersby Historic Park where Frank served on the board of directors and where Alison, with a degree in landscape design, was a volunteer garden docent.
Homicide detective Mike Barefoot, a Cherokee native from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, immediately puts Alison at the top of his suspect list. He finds himself drawn to her--and not just because she had motive for the crime. As an army veteran, Mike usually keeps his emotional walls high. And as a detective, he knows not to get involved with murder suspects. So why he is so attracted to Alison? Can he fight his feelings for her--and find the killer before Alison becomes the next target?
Carolina Reckoning starts with a bang, literally! Allison Monaghan and Mike Barefoot were both strong characters with flaws, which made them approachable and as a reader I felt drawn into their lives. As with a mystery, it was fast paced, making a quick read. Even though a lot happens during the course of the book, with red herrings galore, Lisa Carter ties up all the loose ends for the reader.
For those readers who live in North Carolina, there is an especially nice touch in that the author paints vivid pictures of local flavor. If you enjoy mysteries, this is the book for you.
I received this book from the publisher Abingdon Press to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55.