Beth Tyner was born in a small town in South Carolina and returned there to raise her family. Following the classic admonition to write about what you know, her Dad’s hardware store, the small town she grew up in and the entire swath of land known as the Lowcountry have starring roles in her third book along with the intricate plots unraveled by her main characters, a set of sleuthing sisters.
“Bad Mojo” is Tyner’s third mystery set in the Lowcountry. The first two, “Inside the George” and “The Sleuth Sisters,” introduced us to the sharp minds and antics of Buella and Carson, two middle-aged sibling sleuths.
Tyner goes a bit further into the country this time and further into local history and mythology, reaching into the pirate past of Anne Bonney and conquistador treasure from the 16th century to start the mystery churning on what seems to be a trip by sisters Buella and Carson to help their niece Magnolia with her new baby by babysitting and taking her shifts at the family eatery.
It took me a few minutes to grab hold of the plot through the thicket of names in the first pages of the book. We are soon caught up in the unease created by a road seller’s warning about the place they are going and then we learn about a sunken treasure ship! Is it real or not? No matter. Treasure hunting is always interesting and in this case adds several great twists to the plot. Add to that a secret passageway in their niece’s house, (an old Southern mansion) and a ghost. And oh yes, even a murder!
It’s a fun read peppered with red herrings and genuine clues, interesting plot twists and more.
I was intrigued by the idea of the famous female pirate’s attachment to this area and had heard the legend that she escaped the hangman thanks to the intervention of her wealthy father. Tyner’s spin on the legend is indeed artful and original, especially in its paring with the quest for Spanish treasure – again a real possibility since Spanish ships did ply the waters off the Carolina coast in the late 1500s.
Buella and Carson, the sister detectives, are fun to watch, game to try anything and sharp observers of nature and clues. In this installment (the third in which they pair up to solve mysteries) the siblings leave their husbands at home.
Fear not, they are armed and possibly even dangerous. The book opens with the pair obtaining their concealed weapon licenses and treats us to tales of their prowess with the weapons while reminding us of their indomitable and fun character traits.
“Bad Mojo” is a fun summer read by a local writer.
Joan Leotta, For The Sun News
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