Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Genre: Romantic Suspense/ Mystery/ Contemporary Fiction
Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words
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Sharon Cupp Pennington’s “short stories have appeared in numerous online and print venues, with anthology contributions to The Rocking Chair Reader in the Coming Home edition (2004) and Family Gatherings (2005), A Cup of Comfort for Weddings: Something Old, Something New (2007), and Good Old Days Magazine (March, 2007).” Hoodoo Money is her debut novel. To learn more, visit her website.
“After her almost-wedding to a bigamist, successful children's author Braeden McKay has given up on love. She's content to live vicariously through her imaginary heroine, Platypus Pearl, and a gaggle of adventurous, web-footed cohorts - until a working vacation in New Orleans shakes up her quiet, structured world. Had she known that souvenir nickel stolen from the grave of a hoodoo woman would catapult her into a nightmare of betrayal and murder, she would have insisted her friend put it back. Cursed nickel or unfortunate happenstance? Sanderson Montgomery isn't one to discount the supernatural beliefs of others. This is the Big Easy, after all, Mecca to the spiritual and the superstitious. As a veteran detective, neither does he ignore cold, hard fact. And the fact is, someone or something is bent on harming Braeden McKay, and it's up to him to protect her while keeping his heart out of the mix. Can love, the very thing Braeden wants no part of, be the one force greater than any adversary - even a hoodoo curse?”
What a twisted web of intrigue Ms. Pennington weaves in this story told through different points of view. Most of the story centers on Braeden McKay, an idealistic children’s author, who had researched a local murder story several years earlier. She stored all of her pictures and interviews away for safe keeping because something didn’t feel right about it.
While accompanying her childhood friend, super model Angeline St. Cyr, on a shoot in New Orleans, Braeden gets mugged. Sanderson Montgomery is not the officer working her case but recognizes who she is and is inadvertently drawn to her. He is a smart detective, as he learns more about Braeden and her history he starts making connections that may be relevant to the murder case she researched years ago. In the meantime Cooper, Angeline’s hired driver for the week, decides to take her out of town for a little R&R, and to avoid reporters swarming the hotel since Braeden’s mugging. Angeline finds Cooper quite charming and despite their diverse backgrounds they are both attracted to each other However, he has a colorful history of his own, which the author has woven quite skillfully. It is a tangled web of deceit, murder, and disaster deluxe.
When tragedy strikes Braeden blames herself for not insisting that Angeline return the nickel souvenir she lifted off the gravestone of a Hoodoo woman after a photo shoot in the New Orleans graveyard. Grief stricken Braeden returns home to Texas. As murders start piling up in connection to Braeden’s mugging, Sanderson fears for her safety and finds an excuse to follow her to Galveston. More mysterious happenings around Braeden’s home cause Sanderson to start working with the local police. Most of the main characters are well written and believable. The plot was suspenseful and well-paced as elements from Cooper’s past become germane to Braeden’s cases in both New Orleans and Galveston. I had a small problem stretching my believability with one character and how things played out in the end. Then after the climactic scene the next chapter starts eight months later? ~sigh~ I have to say I was disappointed about this lapse of time. I felt like I didn’t get to savor the outcome before moving on.
This is book 1 of The Stolen Nickel Series, book 2 is also available and titled Mangroves and Monsters.
I came across a few small proofing issues.
Rating: **** Four stars