Low Country Blood has energy to burn. It’s a mystery with a modern thriller mentality set in and around the not-so-sleepy city and port of Savannah. Sue Hinkin’s lively writing illuminates a rich cast of characters. She slips into the head of her antagonists with ease and populates this rich tale with a wide variety of memorable characters.
The main focus is Beatrice Middleton. She’s a Los Angeles TV reporter. Well, was. Chasing a possible job offer in Atlanta, she makes a visit home to Savannah amid horrible news—the murder of her teenage nephew.
Soon, Bea’s son Dexter arrives in Savannah—Bea’s current and past relationships are varied, but easy to follow—without Bea’s direct approval. Dexter is a budding documentary filmmaker. His father is a “newly retired Los Angeles Lakers point guard with a good heart, bad knees, and an emotional maturity level just south of junior high.” Dexter starts a bit of amateur sleuthing—and vanishes.
To complicate (er, enrich) matters, Bea’s brother Luther is a rural county sheriff and the “blood” of Low Country Blood is not only the sniper-like killing of budding violinist Jayden Middleton, it’s the secrets and entanglements of family blood, too, and how those secrets have shaped Bea herself. Bea’s search for the killer is also a search for firm footing with work and family. Bea knows herself well at times, wishes she knew herself better at others.
Hinkin’s writing shifts from first-person Beatrice to third-person for other points of view with a round-robin flavor that keeps the story moving. Hinkin refuses to let the action sag. The observations are wry and colorful, original and clever.
“Our little jet came into Savannah Hilton Head International Airport fifteen minutes early. We had one heck of a tailwind and enough turbulence to loosen my teeth.”
“His smile was feline. The hairs on my neck rose. I could envision the caterpillar in Alice of Wonderland saying ‘Whoooo…are…you?’ while puffing God-knows-what-kind of smoke from his hookah.”
“Azalea bushes appeared crushed and spiritless, like ex-cons heading for their next incarceration.”
Hinkin, who lived in Savannah for five years, weaves in a healthy dose of traditional Southern atmosphere lifestyle along with ample views of Savannah’s scenery. But she writes just as easily of international trade and the giant shipping port. Low Country Blood serves up several nasty antagonists, muscular chase sequences, and an emotionally satisfying final showdown that allows Beatrice to close a very big loop stemming from her own suppressed teenage trauma.
Low Country Blood, published by small but mighty Literary Wanderlust in Colorado, measures up with mainstream mysteries from major publishing houses. The story immerses in a taut yarn and takes us to a land that is “malleable and shifty as quicksand.”