Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer | Blog Tour with Review

Welcome to the final tour stop
of the TLC Blog Tour for
Lowcountry Boneyard
by Susan M. Boyer

The Blurb

Where is Kent Heyward? The twenty-three-year-old heiress from one of Charleston’s oldest families vanished a month ago. When her father hires private investigator Liz Talbot, Liz suspects the most difficult part of her job will be convincing the patriarch his daughter tired of his overbearing nature and left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes.

But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Kent and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk.

Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.

Has everything you could want in a traditional mystery: a credible and savvy protagonist, a meaty mystery, and setting that will make you want to spend time in South Carolina. I enjoyed every minute of it. 
– Charlaine Harris, New York Times Bestselling Author of Day Shift

Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer
Series: A Liz Talbot Mystery, #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Hardcover: 300 pages
ISBN-10: 1941962505
ISBN-13: 978-1941962503
Paperback: 292 pages 
ISBN-10: 1941962475
ISBN-13: 978-1941962473
eBook File Size: 609 KB  

The Review

I just read an amazing book, y'all — Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer.  Let me tell you just a little bit about this fantastic cozy mystery. Lowcountry Boneyard is the third book in the Liz Talbot Mystery Series, following Lowcountry Boil (#1) and Lowcountry Bombshell (#2).

Lowcountry Boneyard has enough backstory in it to be read as a stand-alone — however, if you also intend to read books one and two, I urge you to read the books in order. By reading them out of order, you are creating spoilers for yourself when you read the earlier books.

I really love Lowcountry Boneyard! So many of my reasons, though, are ones I can't share, because I would be revealing spoilers for Lowcountry Boneyard, as well as Lowcountry Boil and Lowcountry Bombshell (reviews to follow), and I don't do spoilers. I decided to elaborate on some points from the blurb, and tell you about the characters and setting. I included some short excerpts so you can get a feel for Author Susan M. Boyer's writing style.

Liz Talbot is a private investigator on Stella Maris (see map here), an island off the South Carolina coast at Charleston. Liz is the narrator of Lowcountry Boneyard. Nate, her partner (in more ways than one!), lives in Greenville, SC, and they handle PI cases in both cities. The Talbot family, adored by Liz, consists of some very memorable characters: Franklin (father, retired accountant, rat hunter), Carolyn (mother, active church volunteer), Blake (older brother, Stella Maris Police Chief), and Merry (aka Esmerelda, younger sister, Executive Director of Teen Council in Charleston).

"Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend" is not a ghost, mind you. Colleen explains it all very well in Lowcountry Boil, better than I can, but basically she is a guardian spirit. [No, not an angel, a spirit. She explains the distinction. READ THE BOOK.] Specifically, Colleen is a Guardian Spirit for Stella Maris, and her job is to guard the island from danger. She officially protects the person (currently Liz) holding the Simmons seat on the Town Council (explained further in Lowcountry Boil).
As her sole human Point of Contact, I was the only one who could see her.    
Colleen and Liz together contribute to the appeal of this series. Their conversations and interactions can be so funny!
Colleen insisted on lunch at Poogan's Porch. We both loved the food, and she wanted to play with Poogan, the ghost dog.
Colleen is forever "popping in and out," as Liz puts it, which really annoys Liz when she is with other people, especially clients. Here is a snippet of Liz (and Colleen) during her hiring interview with Kent Heyward's father.
Colleen shot me a baleful look. "Really? One of the oldest families South of Broad and you're going to ask him to fill out your questionnaire?"
"It's the law," I snapped.
My heart seized. I'd spoken aloud. To Colleen. And not in a professional tone. I coughed, wheezed, and whooped, demonstrating how the sudden onset of respiratory distress had distorted my voice. I patted my chest.
Finally, I took a deep breath. "Excuse me. My allergies are acting up. Ragweed. As I was saying, private investigators are required by South Carolina law to provide each client with a contract for services spelling out what work will be done and what the fees are."
"Of course." He looked at me from under full eyebrows like he suspected me of something but couldn't decide what.
 Colleen does act like Liz's guardian angel, intervening to save Liz's life four times (that Liz is aware of) during the course of this investigation. [How does Colleen intervene, you may be asking? READ THE BOOK!]

Colleen assists Liz in her investigation into Kent's disappearance. Colleen interviews the "lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante" since of course Liz can't do it. 
Sue Ellen mentioned strings Kent put in her ears. I think she's talking about earbuds.
Colleen also gives Liz some sage advice (redacted for your protection).
"Could you give me just a teeny bit more information? Where to find Kent would be helpful."
Colleen chewed thoughtfully. "I can't tell you where to find her, but you will. Two things to remember. One, rational people often do irrational things. Two, use the angel to smite the enemy."
"Smite? I'm smiting people now?"
"Do you like the word clobber better? I thought smite sounded more mysterious — and classier."
With the help of Nate (and Colleen!), Liz investigates Kent Heyward, her family, her friends, and many other people, in order to sleuth out the information that's actually pertinent to finding Kent and figuring out why she disappeared. It turns out this job is a whole lot more difficult than convincing Kent's daddy of anything. 

Much dirt is uncovered, as well as some red herrings, as the lively plot twists and turns on the fast track to the climax. I was a teensy bit suspicious of the person who turned out to be the culprit, but I also had my suspicions of several others. I was quite surprised by the motives of the culprit.

More reasons I love Lowcountry Boneyard and the Liz Talbot Mysteries

  • Lowcountry Boneyard and the other books have an original premise — Colleen, the  guardian spirit.
  • All of the characters seem quite real to me.
  • Each character has a distinctive personality (except for a set of identical twin brothers, who still wear matching clothes — at age 50!). 
  • The characters are all likable — well, except for the ones that Author Susan M. Boyer intends to be unlikable, like a pair of thugs, for example.
  • I connected with the main character Liz immediately. 
  • Liz is snarky, loyal, and  headstrong (to her partner's and brother's dismay).  
  • Liz is a kick-ass private investigator, very tech savvy.
  • The world-building is top-notch — detailed and plausible; the fictional island of Stella Maris seems as real to me as actual locations described in Charleston, Greenville, and points between.
  • Nate stays at my favorite Downtown Charleston hotel, the Hampton Inn at Meeting and John Streets!
  • Lowcountry Boneyard is a fun read that's fast-paced; I read it in two days.
  • All the different plot threads come together by the end.
  • I was smiling when I finished Lowcountry Boneyard, and can't wait to read the next book in the series, Lowcountry Bordello!

To sum it all up, Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer is amazing, and recommended to all cozy mystery lovers, especially those who like a smidgen of paranormal mixed in with the coziness. Lowcountry Boneyard is worthy of our highest rating, Five Kitties!

Five out of five kitties

Note:  I  received a complimentary copy of Lowcountry Boneyard from NetGalley and the publisher, 
in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

The Author

About Susan M. Boyer

Susan M. Boyer is the author of the USA TODAY bestselling Liz Talbot mystery series. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, won the 2012 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and garnered several other award nominations. Susan loves beaches, Southern food, and small towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has crazy relatives.  You’ll find all of the above in her novels.

Susan lives in Greenville, SC, with her husband and an inordinate number of houseplants.

Find out more about Susan at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoodreads, and Amazon.

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