Money and power lie at the root of this murder mystery as a tangled web of characters seeks to protect a young Gullah child.
Jonah Washington is a victim of neglect and abuse in the broken foster-care system of Beaufort, S.C. After he narrowly escapes a deadly beating from his foster mother, Jonah is taken in by social worker Coral Peters and her daughter Hannah. Determined to right the wrongs done to Jonah, Coral enlists the assistance of her friend, child psychologist Jadah Jimysee, and unknowingly kicks off a surprising chain of events. Suddenly, everyone is interested in Jonah’s whereabouts and well being, from the homeless man on the corner to the wealthiest family in Beaufort. A protective circle forms around Jonah and includes the handsome and unpredictable Jack Claybourn, a man who knew Jonah’s parents and is determined to solve the mystery of their deaths and protect their son at all costs. Murders stack up as various characters, battling their own demons and defeats, are caught up in family politics, societal pressures, and a string of unsolved deaths and violent attacks. Jonah and Jadah are tied to the Gullah community and come alive through Dinsmoor’s dialogue and use of the Gullah language. Other characters, such as Hank, a Shakespeare-spouting homeless man, are uniquely interesting and introduce a lighthearted aspect to a novel that spends much of its time focused on death, violence and abuse. However, Dinsmoor is overly ambitious; the abundance of characters can be unwieldy. Many of the intriguing secondary characters remain underdeveloped, as Dinsmoor glosses their motivations and potential. Alternately, Coral and Jack receive ample time, as the narrative of their potential relationship runs parallel to the story of Jonah and the murders. Yet Jack appears to be a masochistic drunk who can be unbalanced, violent and verbally abusive. The anger and seething resentment that frequently underlie his interactions with Coral give one pause, as if their romance is being shoehorned into a story that clearly isn’t meant to be a fairy tale.
Despite a few hiccups, an attention-grabbing mystery with a quirky cast of characters in a steamy Southern setting.