In Hutchins’ (The Clark Kent Chronicles, 2012, etc.) debut novel, a Dallas attorney leaves her troubled career and love life behind to investigate her parents’ deaths in the Virgin Islands.
Thirty-five-year-old law firm partner Katie Connell has struggled with a drinking habit in the past but has nevertheless managed to succeed in her career. That changes when she humiliates herself by making a pass at Nick, the law firm’s staff investigator. Afterward, she decides to spend a week on the island of St. Marcos, where her parents died the year before in a car accident. The deaths were ruled accidental, but Katie never truly believed that explanation, so she hires a local private investigator to review the facts. She also meets a free-spirited woman named Ava who helps her get acquainted with the island. Katie visits an abandoned estate called Annalise (“grace” in Hebrew); although some locals believe the property to be haunted, Katie feels a “voodoo-like connection” to the place and makes an offer to purchase it. She returns to Dallas and mishandles a high-profile case; she returns to St. Marcos when her offer to purchase Annalise is accepted. As Katie sets about furnishing her home, she unravels the mystery of her parents’ deaths and finds a new romance. While restoring Annalise, Katie resurrects herself. Although the novel’s early chapters are somewhat slow and include some contrived plot twists—including the convenient ejection of Nick from the story—the story builds momentum and keeps readers turning pages. Former St. Croix resident Hutchins also injects a Caribbean flavor into her debut novel by adeptly using island lingo and highlighting various cultural nuances.
A lively romantic mystery that will likely leave readers eagerly awaiting a sequel.