Lowcountry Bribe, by C. Hope Clark
For this Southern writer's money, but I’ve found a lot of modern Southern writing either boring, not well developed, or affectatious. Still, with the advent of small publishers, the great trove of Southern writers who have gone begging for recognition are seeing the light of day.
One such is Hope Clark, and I admit to having read this book faster than most – so I could find out what lay on the next page. The story: Carolina Slade is a middle manager in the Department of Agriculture and living in South Carolina (not your average role for a suspense/crime protagonist, is she?). She’s offered a bribe on a land deal by a local farmer, and then her whole life falls apart, and that includes a long-simmering divorce.
image via ridingwiththetopdown.wordpress.com
Two things Clark does here that are unique in first novels of this genre:
She gives the reader a most intimate view of divorce, and even rape, from a woman’s point of view.
Instead of using glamorous, sexy people, or high-placed rich and governmental power players, she weaves a spellbinding crime story from the meat-and-potatoes viewpoints of common rural folk.
Both are quirks the genre desperately needs.
There are some problems with the book, though: it suffers from a lack of editing, and character and plot inconsistencies toward the book’s end, but these problems are relatively mild and in no way take from the impact of Clark’s work here.
Small-time publishing will be the place to be in the future, despite the lack of attention money-strapped publishers can muster to promote promising writers such as the author of Lowcountry Bribe. And look for more great writing from master storyteller C. Hope Clark.
My rating 16 of 20 stars
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