About the book
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.
Guest Post by Susan M. Boyer
It All Comes Down to Family
My extended family clan has more members than some towns. My people have gone forth and multiplied, is what I’m saying. I should add, right up front, that while I explore family dynamics in my writing, I don’t write about my family. The exception is an occasional blog, and when I tell one of them I’ve used them in a blog, they stand up straight and grin. If they were peacocks, their feathers would no doubt fan.
Because the relationship between sisters is complex, it’s one of my favorite themes in fiction. My sister and I joke that we were once a single egg which subdivided and we were separated before birth. Mamma calls us her twins born ten years apart. We’re exactly alike, except in the ways we are not. I’m what folks politely call “big-boned,” while my sister is petite, bless her heart. We’re both OCD control freaks. We finish each other’s sentences and have our own, secret texting shorthand. When I think of her, the phone rings and she’s on the line.
We agree on virtually everything. But in the space between “virtually everything” and “absolutely everything,” unfortunate altercations occasionally erupt.
When we disagree, we do it in spectacular fashion. It infuriates her that I could possibly hold a differing position on anything. I feel the same way. If the conversation drifts towards treacherous waters while we’re in our mother’s house, Mamma throws up her hands, says, “I’m leaving,” and walks out the back door. She always comes back — well, she always has so far. Daddy instigates these dramas for entertainment. He knows our points of dissension well. Our brother — the middle child — eggs it on just to keep things interesting. I’m absolutely convinced any one of us would take a bullet for any of the others.
But I’m here to tell you, it’s true what they say about Southern families — we are neither ashamed of nor scared by eccentricity. By way of example, I offer Aunt Avalee, who is convinced her neighbor is throwing birdseed on her roof so the birds will peck holes in it, and Aunt Clarene, whose house has been repeatedly broken into by someone who vacuums and leaves without taking or disturbing anything. I have many more examples. So many more.
When I married Sugar, I left the small town where I grew up. At the time, it never entered my mind this would be a permanent thing. My sister moved away as well, and we frequently lament not living close enough to inhabit each other’s daily lives. My brother lives fifteen minutes from Mamma’s backdoor. I envy him that. In my fantasy life, we all live back in that small town, a block or two away from each other, and we all go to Mamma and Daddy’s on Sunday for supper. We pop in and out of each other’s homes several times a week. My dreams are made of simple things. But these simple things are simply out of reach.
Sugar’s job requires him to live near an airport. Two of our four children have put down roots in Greenville, South Carolina, where we’ve lived for many years and where they grew up. The other two are relatively close-by. We have friends whose lives have become intertwined with ours through shared joys and heartaches who we would be hard pressed to leave behind. And, much of Sugar’s side of our family resides in Greenville. Going home is not an option for me.
So, I write about what I long for—family, small towns, and pristine beaches — and of course, solving murders and taking down the bad guy.
Tell me about your family, whether by birth or one with members you’ve chosen. If you’re a writer, do your family relationships sometimes influence the themes you write about?
About the author
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.
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