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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Southern Storm by Terri Blackstock

Matthew Cade has invited unwanted trouble upon himself by running down a dying man with his police cruiser one rainy evening on the island of Cape Refuge. The man died shortly after his arrival at the hospital, and Cade is blaming himself. This is not helped by the gossip circulating the island upon the event. However, Blair Owens knows Cade didn't kill the man because he was already bleeding of a gunshot wound. But when Cade disappears from the island mysteriously, suspicion mounts against the police chief. Blair is furious and launches a reckless campaign for Cade's innocence, quitting her job as island librarian in the process. The facts don't add up to her, even when a note supposedly sent by Cade arrives saying he has eloped with an unknown girlfriend. Or maybe Blair is just trying to keep her heart from being let down...
In the second installment of the Cape Refuge series, Terri Blackstock does little to instill confidence that this series will avoid decreasing in value as it wears on. She started the series out with a four-star, and now a three-star. At least plot structure is the main problem in Southern Storm rather than character development. Needless to say, I don't have high hopes for the remainder of this series.
Morgan and Blair remain the characters they were in Cape Refuge. Blair may even be better than before; her reckless nature and methods for solving the mystery are entertaining and promising. Jonathan is not the character he was in the first book, mostly because he is not shown enough. Cade remains to be the same-a neutral, gray character with a little imperfection but no personality. Sadie also remains to be the same as she was, yet does not develop a personality. Basically, Terri's Cape Refuge characters took no steps in either direction, however this is better than most authors regarding series characters.
Terri did not resist the urge to connect all her subplots with convenient connections. Blair's subplot, Cade's subplot, Morgan's subplot, and Sadie's subplot are all connected in one way or another, by believable connections or by convenient connections. Convenient connections are never advantageous to use when writing a mystery because they are amateurish and cause the author to look as such. There are no obvious romantic subplots, except for the ongoing silent one between Cade and Blair. This is another reason I do not have high hopes for the remainder of this series. Sadie's overlooked subplot is better than it could have been and should have only served to provide a distraction from the mystery. The mystery itself is not well written because the reader knows the entire time where Cade is and why. Besides this, Cade's disappearance is for typical reasons, reasons that Terri has shown herself better than before. To top this all off, she throws in a cheesy showdown that ends predictably.
Basically, the only thing that saved this book from complete disaster was the character development, an uncharacteristic move for her. Now, if only she will develop good characters as well as returning to her superb mystery development of old, she will be a sight to behold.
3 stars

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