Alison wanted her cheating husband gone, not dead…
When 30-something housewife, Alison Monaghan discovers proof of her husband’s infidelity in a photograph with a mysterious woman, she must decide how to confront Frank when he returns home from work. Despite the influence of her best friend Valerie, a strong Christian, Alison remains aloof from God and is determined to handle this crisis her own way. But Alison may not get that chance. Frank never makes it home. Soon his body is found on a lonely back-country road in antebellum Weathersby Historic Park where Frank served on the board of directors and where Alison, with a degree in landscape design, was a volunteer garden docent.
Homicide detective Mike Barefoot, a Cherokee native from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, immediately puts Alison at the top of his suspect list. He finds himself drawn to her–and not just because she had motive for the crime. As an army veteran, Mike usually keeps his emotional walls high. And as a detective, he knows not to get involved with murder suspects. So why he is so attracted to Alison? Can he fight his feelings for her–and the stirrings in his heart toward God?
Carolina Reckoning is the debut novel by suspense writer Lisa Carter. It tells the tale what happens when a wife discovers proof of her husband’s infidelity, only to have him die before she’s able to confront him. When police discover Frank was fatally shot in his car, Alison automatically becomes the main suspect. There’s little evidence with which to charge or exonerate her. Actually, there’s very little evidence at all at first. Frank’s briefcase and smartphone are both missing. Frank’s death leaves Alison and her teenage children with nothing but questions and debt. Six months later, Frank’s murder has become a cold case. Alison takes a job at Weathersby Historic Park, where it becomes immediately apparent that none of the directors can stand each other. Her daughter, Claire, is being bullied by members of her former social set. And the investigating detective has become a regular visitor at the family’s home.
There are two plots in Carolina Reckoning: the murder and the romance between Alison and Mike. By far, I preferred the murder mystery. More than once I thought I knew who the suspect was, only to be proven wrong. Who wanted Frank dead? Who shot at Alison using the same weapon that was used to kill her husband? The motive, when finally revealed, felt a bit confusing but these things are never straightforward. There are also a couple of red herrings thrown in for good measure. In contrast, the romantic element felt weak. I was surprised that an investigator would so easily cross the line from professional to personal in such a short time. Alison, despite being described as an ‘abused’ wife, also seems willing to quickly jump into another relationship and doesn’t appear to have any concerns that Mike might turn out to be another Frank. The Christian theme of forgiveness runs throughout the book, as Alison goes through the process of forgiving Frank for his actions toward her while he lived. I particularly appreciated that she made a commitment to God early in the book, instead of it happening toward the end and just before the big reveal as is often seen in Christian fiction.
Thank you to Abingdon Press for my free copy of Carolina Reckoning, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: 06 August 2013
Page Count: 336