Sunday, March 10, 2013

Book Review: High Water Hellion by Glynn Marsh Alam (Luanne Fogarty #5)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Interesting characters and vivid writing
Cons: One plot point obvious to all but the characters
The Bottom Line:
Come dive in again
Florida's dangerous swamps
Are so inviting

Murder Mixes with a Hurricane

High Water Hellion is the fifth in the Luanne Fogarty mystery series. Luanne is a college professor who occasionally helps out the police as a diver. She lives among the fresh water springs near Tallahassee, Florida.

Luanne was admittedly a little reluctant to go help Tony Amado, her boss when working for the police. His aunt, Miss Keen, has just died, and rumor had it she had thrown something into the lake near where she lived. Tony needed Luanne to come and dive in the lake to find whatever it was his aunt threw in there.

Miss Keen lived on a lake in the middle of Florida. Fortunately, the spring semester has just ended, so Luanne is free to go.

The problems come almost as soon as Luanne arrives. Being early May, the alligators are in the middle of mating season. Miss Keen insisted on an autopsy, even leaving the money to pay for it in her will. While following her instructions, the coroner finds signs of foul play. And there's a hurricane coming, bringing its own damage and danger.

When I realized the action of the book was going to move from Luanne's home to central Florida, I was worried we wouldn't get to see the recurring characters. I had nothing to worry about as they all logically show up over the course of the book. Even Luanne's neighbor Pasquin gets in on the action, which is wonderful since I just love him. All of the recurring characters are their normal interesting selves, and help propel the plot forward.

Since the setting is not in the area around Luanne's house, it allows the author to create a host of new characters. They are brought fully to life over the course of the story. There were a few characters I truly felt sorry for by the time the book was over, and several of the characters really creeped me out. This is especially true of the neighbor kid. Still, these characters never made me feel uncomfortable enough to quit the book. In fact, they drew me into the story to find out what they were doing.

The plot moves along well in the first half. I was worried when the hurricane was first mentioned that it was just there because of the recent hurricane seasons. However, it is an important part of the story. My big frustration comes in the second half. There was one major plot point I saw coming long before the characters did. I felt they should have suspected what was going on long before they did, and I grew a little frustrated with them in the second half. Then, the climax seems a little rushed as it tries to tie up all the plot threads.

Ms. Alam's writing is as strong as ever here. She expertly paints pictures with words while continuing to move the story forward. The descriptions kept me on edge through much of the book, adding suspense to an already good story.

Fans of the series will find another winner with High Water Hellion. Anyone who loves a good tale well written would do well to check out this series.

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