Kathryn R. Wall
In the South, family is the one thing worth dying—or killing—for. . . .
Things are heating up between young widow Bay Tanner, sometime private investigator, and Red, local sheriff’s sergeant and her late husband’s brother. But a new case that strikes too close to home endangers more than just her love life.
An unexpected call from her housekeeper’s son hints that a recent hit-and-run may have been more than an accident. Roberto fears the victim, a local crusader for the rights of illegal immigrants, may have been silenced. But almost immediately it becomes clear that the dead girl was not the intended victim, and before Bay has a chance to launch an investigation, Roberto himself disappears.
Meanwhile, Red and the rest of the sheriff’s deputies are working overtime to solve a string of holdups terrorizing local businesses and banks. When Lavinia Smalls, longtime companion to Bay’s crippled father, is caught up in one of these robberies, Bay finds herself enmeshed in yet another mystery. What does Lavinia know about this gang of thieves, and why is she so reluctant to share her secret? What clues does her friend, the ancient black man with the intricately carved walking stick, carry in his muddled memory?
Then the strange phone calls begin, and Bay realizes someone desperately wants her off the case—but which one? Determined to protect those she regards as family, Bay struggles against the fear that she may be endangering the very people she’s come to love in order to bring a killer to justice. Almost too late, she discovers that tempers run hot and prejudices deep when it comes to the growing immigrant population of the sultry South Carolina Lowcountry.
In Kathryn Wall’s eighth captivating Southern mystery, Bay Tanner will pay a terrible price to uncover the secrets of the Mercy Oak.
"The South Carolina resort of Hilton Head, for all of its tourist attractions and glitz of Southern wealth, takes on a more down-to-earth feel in Wall's capable hands. Series PI Bay Tanner (Bishop's Reach) must tackle two cases that hit close to home. Her housekeeper's son disappears after the suspicious hit-and-run death of a young Hispanic woman who had been advocating for the rights of illegal immigrants. Then, during a bank robbery, Lavinia, the woman who raised Bay and still lives with her father, tries to help an old man who has recognized one of the robbers. At the risk of her own life, Bay is desperate to keep those she cares about safe. Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, and Marcia Muller come to mind as the quintessential writers of the modern female private eye novel. Wall, in a quiet and unassuming way, has produced a body of work of equal quality as she tackles complex modern issues that trouble her very human characters. Highly recommended."
"In her eighth adventure, Hilton Head, South Carolina, private investigator Bay Tanner receives a cryptic call from teenager Bobby, her housekeeper Dolores’ son. A friend of Bobby’s was killed in a hit-and-run accident, but he believes it was murder. Bobby disappears soon after this phone call, and when Dolores disappears, too, Bay begins to investigate, convinced that both mother and son are in danger. Meanwhile, Bay’s personal life has its own turbulence, as her developing relationship with former brother-in-law and local policeman Red forces her to come to terms with the murder of her husband. Determined to find Dolores and keep her and Bobby safe, Bay receives threats on her own life, angering Red. A deep sense of South Carolina’s Low Country adds to the story, which combines a nicely textured portrayal of personal relationships, including Bay’s close friendship with Delores, with a fast-paced mystery."
—Sue O'Brien, Booklist