As we all watched the fearsome approach of Hurricane Florence, I watched with bated breath. The Outer Banks of North Carolina holds a very special place in my heart. I married my wife on Coquina Beach along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. We had the entire beach to ourselves for a breath-taking sunset ceremony. We fell in love with Manteo (having more than one lunch at the tasty Hungry Pelican). I discovered the work of Joseph L.S. Terrell in a cool little bookstore there (more on that soon enough). We absolutely fell head-over-heels for the out-of-the-way tiny island village of Ocracoke. We returned to the idyllic island for our first anniversary and none of the charm had worn off. As we watched the devastation of Florence, we wondered if the face of the place we had come to love so much would be forever changed. The Outer Banks in general and Ocracoke in specific missed most of the brunt of the stormy beast. My relief in the storm’s wrath mostly missing the Outer Banks in no way diminishes my sadness or empathy for those areas not so fortunate.
Once the storm had dissipated and the flood waters began to recede (there are still many areas flooded as of the writing of this), my thoughts drifted to that great little bookstore in Manteo and my fortuitous discovery of Harrison Weaver.
I wrote much of the following post after reading the first two Weaver mysteries, but my affinity for the series has only grown since then.
“I love discovering a book series I was unaware of. It’s nice to dive into the first book realizing there are several follow-ups already published. I was in an amazing bookstore in Manteo, NC (Downtown Books…definitely worth a visit if you are on the Outer Banks) looking for a good “beach book” to read.
It was my honeymoon and my new wife and I were searching for some light reading material before heading out for an afternoon of sunny relaxation. I happened by the ‘Local Authors’ table which was stacked with books by many authors, none of which sparked my interest. Then, I caught the cover of “Not Our Kind of Killing” by Joseph L.S. Terrell out of the corner of my eye. The swampy looking river image struck a chord with me (I love hiking and the outdoors). The image evoked feelings of not just beautiful wilderness, but also of sad isolation.
Available on Amazon: Not Our Kind of Killing
I picked the book up and read the back cover. It sounded interesting and I discovered it wasn’t the first book of the series. I found the first book, the plot of which did not intrigue as much, but I wanted to start from the beginning. I was hesitant, but two things grabbed me immediately about the series: 1. The Outer Banks setting (I was exploring many of the places mentioned in the book during our stay) 2. First person narrative (I am a sucker for first person narratives). I decided to buy the book and give the series a whirl.
The first book is “Tide of Darkness” (2010) which introduces the reader to Harrison Weaver, a true crime writer escaping to the tranquility of the Outer Banks after a tragic event. He soon finds himself entangled in a murder mystery.
The plot is nothing new to the genre but is sound, if not extraordinary. The main character is well-rounded, but most of the other characters are quite flat. The tone of the narrative is what kept me reading. It has the tone of a forties detective thriller, which I love. The narrator allows the reader full access to his inner workings, warts and all. Terrell uses his setting to his full advantage. This is most assuredly an Outer Banks novel. The author clearly knows the region like the back of his hand and employs this knowledge to great effect. This is the first of the Weaver Mysteries, so one can forgive a few bumps along the way. Overall the book is a very quick and highly entertaining read.
Available on Amazon: Tide of Darkness
“Overwash of Evil” (2011) is the second entry in the Harrison Weaver series. Here we find the hero as a suspect of a murder. Once again, the Outer Banks setting takes center stage, which again is a good thing. Terrell has upped the ante plot-wise with this entry. It crosses over from the procedural feel of the first book into psychological thriller territory. While this certainly helps the pacing of the book, it still has its flaws. It takes a large dose of suspension of disbelief to believe crimes of this nature occur with this level of frequency on the Outer Banks. I’m willing to go there, though.
Characters in this entry are better defined. Holdover characters from the first book are built upon, and not allowed to just lie stagnant. The narration still evokes crime story narration of the past. Credit has to be given to Terrell for sticking with what worked in the first book and trying to improve areas that didn’t quite work. Overall, I’d say he accomplished most of this.”
Available on Amazon: Overwash of Evil
Available on Amazon: Undertow of Vengeance
Available on Amazon: Dead Right Returning