Dying on Edisto
The Edisto Island Mysteries Book 5
by C. Hope Clark
Genre: Cozy Mystery
One death. Two detectives. And unexpected backup.
A Callie Morgan and Carolina Slade crossover! (A standalone mystery)
When a renowned—and now dead—travel blogger washes ashore on the banks of Indigo Plantation, Police Chief Callie Morgan of Edisto Beach agrees to head the investigation as a favor to the county sheriff, whose reasons are as questionable as the death itself.
When death turns to murder and a watchdog from the county makes her investigation difficult, Callie reluctantly turns to Carolina Slade and Wayne Largo, vacationing agents with the Department of Agriculture. Because poison is growing on this plantation, and someone knows how to use it well.
“Page-turning…[and] edge-of-your-seat action…crisp writing and compelling storytelling. This is one you don’t want to miss!” —Carolyn Haines, USA Today bestselling author
“Her beloved protagonist, Callie, continues to delight readers as a strong, savvy, and a wee-bit-snarky police chief.”—Julie Cantrell, NY Times and USA Today bestselling author
BODIES WEREN’T foreign to me, but they weren’t commonplace either.
Trying to keep my feet out of the water, I stooped over, not too much, to study the corpse floating face down about three feet away. The ears were chewed on by some kind of creature. A denim shirt clung to a pudgy back, and the torso gently rocked though no boat stirred the South Edisto River.
The last body I’d discovered in Newberry, my most recent major case, made me vomit my breakfast burrito, and if I hadn’t skipped lunch today, I’d have upchucked here, too.
We were supposed to be on vacation. Or rather, I’d been ordered by my boss to take a vacation.
“Go take basket weaving or something,” he’d said, his way of telling me to get out of his hair for a while and quit finding investigations where there were none. Sorry, but when I thought there was a case, there usually was a case. My record proved it. He sort of pissed me off.
So I’d Googled basket weaving and South Carolina Lowcountry, and made reservations for a week at Indigo Plantation. I was from this piece of the state, and revisiting would be nice. Plus, I planned to make the biggest, gaudiest basket in the world, and set the damn thing on his desk when I returned.
Patiently, Wayne had stood guard on dry land, while I searched for the right grass for a basket, along the edge of the river. But as I waded calf deep in the water, a heavy something bumped me from behind.
Imagining a gator, I screamed, teetered, and fell, making the lawman come running.
Wayne saw the body before I did. “Don’t touch it, Slade!” he’d yelled.
From sitting waist deep in brackish water, slick mud under my butt, I scrambled like a crab at surf’s edge, putting distance between me and the dead man. “It touched me first,” I yelled back.
Gently but quickly, he rolled the man over and checked for a pulse.
I’m sure my eyes rolled. Skin color and missing eyelids told us what we needed. I couldn’t stop staring though I was sure I’d regret it in my dreams.
“Stay here and guard the scene,” Wayne said, in his federal agent voice, the boyfriend in him gone. “Don’t disturb anything. And don’t let anyone else disturb anything.”
Then off he waded to shore and left me. Just like that. Before I could ask what to do if the body tried to float off.
HOPE CLARK has a fascination with the mystery genre and is author of the Carolina Slade Mystery Series as well as the Edisto Island Mysteries, both set in her home state of South Carolina. In her previous federal life, she performed administrative investigations and married the agent she met on a bribery investigation. She enjoys nothing more than editing her books on the back porch with him, overlooking the lake, with bourbons in hand. She can be found either on the banks of Lake Murray or Edisto Beach with one or two dachshunds in her lap. Hope is also editor of the award-winning FundsforWriters.com.
How did you come up with the name of this book?
Dying on Edisto fits a pattern we established with the series from the outset. The odd-numbered books are Something on/of Edisto. Three words. The even-numbered books are Edisto Something, two words.
Murder on Edisto
Echoes of Edisto
Dying on Edisto
This being book five, it was time for the first pattern. Sometimes I think it’s more for our purposes than the reader’s.
But one might ask why is Edisto in every title. These stories are steeped and rich in setting. The real Edisto Island is a jungle-like environment in the South Carolina coastal Lowcountry. Setting owns you down there. Salt air, bugs, and all the wildlife that comes with the ocean and marsh. Sunrises, sunsets. Sounds of the ocean as well as the birds. . . the raccoons at night. Add that to the fact that Edisto Beach is a vacation destination, gave us strong reasoning to insert the name Edisto in each book title.
A huge number of book sales takes place through the Edisto Bookstore on Edisto Island. Tourists arrive each and every weekend, stereotypically seeking a good beach read. They gravitate toward the island’s name, often purchasing the entire series with a desire to entrench themselves into this paradise as deeply as they can. And I credit my publisher for that decision.
The Dying part of Dying on Edisto has its own origin, though. Indigo Plantation is the new bed and breakfast in this story. The owners are trying to rejuvenate the indigo plant, feeding the trend toward more natural living through natural dyes, as well as educate visitors on the pre-Civil War history of the island. So in a slight tongue-in-cheek manner, we gave a nod to the word Dyeing while likewise recognizing the murder mystery.
What’s something interesting that happened to you?
I own this question. Years back, I was still working the day job with the US Department of Agriculture. Yes….my degree is in agriculture, totally non-author-like. From Clemson University, no less. (Can we say National Championship? Go Tigers!) My family is about all things orange, but I digress.
I used to help with financial assistance for farmers. In comes a client who pulled me aside and whispered in my ear, “There’s ten thousand dollars in it for you if you get me that track of land near me.”
I jerked up. “Say what?” This farmer had been my client for five years. He was a bit squirelly, but still, he was a client. And he’d just offered me a bribe. I didn’t believe him, so he repeated it. He had a reputation of dealing drugs, so the offer bothered me. He just might mean it!
So like a good federal employee, I called in the Inspector General. You see, you can’t call your boss, or tell your coworkers, or even call the cops. You have to call what’s in essence the FBI of your agency. After a phone interview, then an agent visiting my home to interrogate me, we spent two weeks setting up a sting operation in my office. . . pretending the two men were auditors from Atlanta just looking over files.
After nerve-wracking days of rehearsing scripts, recording conversations and filming meets, the guy never came across with the money, and the US Attorney chose not to prosecute. But 18 months later, I married the federal agent. (Smile)
We are still married to this day, and he’s the best technical advisor a mystery author could ever have. When it comes time to edit my books, we sit on the back porch, overlooking the lake, and over two bourbons, I read to him. While I catch grammar mistakes, he tells me which gun, how to sneak up on someone, and how far a bullet would knock someone back before they went down.
A match made in heaven.
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