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March 14, 2017

Review of Two North Carolina Novels

by Susan Roberts

I read a lot of southern fiction but was very surprised to read two NC books in a row by authors unknown to me. They are totally different books - one takes place in the mountains in the early 1900s and the second is a current day mystery set in the eastern part of the state. Even though they are so different, they still do a fantastic job of describing my beautiful adopted state.

February 2017; 978-0984701049; ebook & print
(248 pages); historical fiction
a free ARC was provided for this review
Tin Moon by Blakely Chorpenning

Nora Cravis, a quirky and curious young woman, experiences life in Granville County, North Carolina, with her family. Unable to conform to the expectations of an early twentieth-century woman, Nora struggles to maintain a meaningful relationship with her parents after her younger sister, Shailene, disappears. While trying to reconcile the devastation of her loss and care for an ailing husband, clues soon emerge, leading Nora down a murky path of family secrets to a lover's betrayal.

Had you asked me before I married Rathe, before she left us, what the world was like, I would have said God shaped the moon in the likeness of Shailene's full cheeks. I would have been careless not to mention the delicate touch of her fingers on the material she so often sewed with Momma in the glorious light of the front window. How her giggle pulled a shadow of a smile from our daddy when I said something terrible under my breath.

Shailene and I spent our nights counting stars, wishing on the ones we thought went most overlooked. And when the world flipped inside out, it stole Shailene and all the stars, leaving me in a frightful darkness. I became a different person without a moon for balance.

I became a different person when the truth found me.

Tin Moon started in 1917 in the mountains of NC.  As the main character states in the epilogue:

"My name is Nora Cravis and I never left Granville County more than one day in my whole life." 

Nora is a mountain woman who lives her life without a lot of material goods but has dreams and family and love.  This novel is beautifully written with wonderful descriptions of life in the mountains in this time period.

When she was a teenager, Nora tended to be a dreamer instead of working on the farm like her older brothers but once she got married (at 17) to the love of her life, they worked long and hard to have a better life than she grew up with.  As she grows up she creates a very unconditional family but it works for her and her loved ones.

This is a wonderful coming of age story of a feisty main character and her life.  It's a story of love, extreme friendship and family set in beautiful surroundings,

Buy Tin Moon at Amazon 

March 2017; Ranecoat Press; 9780895876850
ebook & print (235 pages); suspense
a free ARC was provided for this review
Justice by Another Name by E.C. Hanes

Set against the backdrop of North Carolina’s powerful hog-producing industry, Justice by Another Name tells the story of Paul Reavis’s suspicious workplace death followed a year later by a senseless death of his young son Paulie. Lana Reavis, who believes her husband was murdered and her son the victim of deliberate negligence, enlists the aid of her long-ago boyfriend, Will Moser, who is currently chief deputy of Hogg County and the heir apparent to the local sheriff.

As Will’s investigation unfolds, suspicious activities and cover-ups begin to emerge. All evidence points to Oris Martin, the powerful owner of Martin Farms, a huge hog-production enterprise and Hogg County’s largest employer, as the mastermind. Despite political pressure and physical threats to look the other way, Will continues his search for what really happened. Meanwhile, Lana, convinced that Oris will be beyond the reach of justice, devises a plan to avenge her family and destroy everything precious to Oris Martin.

Justice By Another Name takes place in the Eastern part of NC where there are a lot of hog farms and the running of these farms is one of the central parts of the plot. Unlike the beautiful vistas of the NC mountains in the first book, the scenery in this novel is dry and pretty desolate. It's small town life at its worst.

The main character is Will Moser, chief deputy of Hogg County, who has the goal of becoming sheriff of the county.  He is questioning some suspicious deaths in the county that had been treated as accidents but just didn't seem like accidents to him due to the links between the deaths and the local main hog supplier in the county.

It's a fast moving mystery with lots of twists and turns and kept me turning pages to find out who the murderer was among a whole lot of nasty guys. Will is definitely the good guy in this book and I hope that the author brings him back in future novels.

Buy Justice by Another Name at Amazon 

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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