Scintillating Southern Secrets Come to Light

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This book was indeed a page-turner. From its opening on a setting chocked full of history and long-buried secrets to the romance burning as bright as a Beaufort sunset, this story is one that everyone will lose themselves in.

Matt Goldman creates an atmospheric sleepy southern town; those presiding in Beaufort are nothing short of lavish and indulgent. Each chapter presents more of a question of who truly killed Thomas Hammond, each character sharing the spotlight of the suspect at some point tint he novel. When reading, it feels like we are Joey, fighting for his father's innocence against an uncounted-for period of time that paints his father as anything but. We follow the terrors of dementia closely; with each repeated question and disconnection from his present, it becomes clear that Mashall Green could not have been the killer he is suspected of.

This does lead to my most prominent critique of the book. --SPOILERS AHEAD--

It is only in the last 40 pages of the novel that we finally figure out who has killed Thomas Hammond. His slayer, his wife Gail Hammond, appears only a few times throughout the book, making it difficult to really pin down her character. The writing of the "twist" seems like Goldman intended to have much more meaning, but we feel more saddened for Virginia than surprised at the confession. There is simply too much that happens off-screen setting up the sting operation that the ending feels rushed and inconclusive.

I have to commend this work on its inclusivity. Depicting the true nature of the old-south mentality is very hard to write without being obscenely offensive, but this novel tackles the challenge well. There are several strong black characters, successful and well-rounded in their arcs. The author confronts the racism that tied them to the Green and Hammond families, and the plot of getting true justice for Delphi is tactfully executed. Including an asexual character was also shocking to see, not at all in a bad way, especially as Virginia plays such a crucial role in the final deduction of Thomas' killer.