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I just finished reading Southern Heat by David Burnsworth. It’s set in Charleston, South Carolina, but often refers to the area as the lowcountry, a term I was unfamiliar with, so I looked it up.

The Lowcountry is a geographic and cultural region located along South Carolina’s coast, that includes the South Carolina Sea Islands. Once a location that was known for its agricultural wealth, the Lowcountry today is internationally renowned for its historic cities and communities, its natural beauty, and its unique cultural heritage, which have attracted millions of visitors and thousands of new residents. The definition of what constitutes the Lowcountry varies. While it always includes the counties of Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper counties, it usually is broadened to include Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties, which is how it is used in the novel.

Tourism is the current dominant economic sector throughout much the Lowcountry and is based on resort amenities, historic and cultural sites, and natural features. Hilton Head Island, Fripp Island, Seabrook Island, Kiawah Island, and the Wild Dunes portion of the Isle of Palms, have developed into popular destinations for golf, tennis, and beach vacations. Longstanding seaside communities including Edisto Beach, Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, and the Isle of Palms remain popular destinations for visitors and a growing number of permanent residents and second-home owners. Charleston is one of the leading cultural and historic destinations in the United States and attracts millions of visitors each year.  Hunting Island State Park, Edisto State Park and other local, state, and federally protected or preserved lands and wetlands provide thousands of acres of pristine natural areas that are accessible in areas to millions of visitors.

The tensions between locals and tourists, between conservation and development are part of Southern Heat.

Southern heat

Title: Southern Heat

Author: David Burnsworth

Category: Mystery

Published: Feb 19, 2014 by Five Star

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Add: Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Gunshots echo down an antebellum Charleston alley. Brack Pelton, an ex-racecar driver and Afghanistan War veteran, witnesses the murder of his uncle, Reggie Sails. Darcy Wells, the pretty Palmetto Pulse reporter, investigates Reggie’s murder and targets Brack.

The sole heir of his uncle’s estate, Brack receives a rundown bar called the Pirate’s Cove, a rotting beach house, and one hundred acres of preserved and valuable wetland along the Ashley River. A member of Charleston’s wealthiest and oldest families offers Brack four million dollars for the land. All Brack wants is his uncle’s killer.

From the sandy beaches of Isle of Palms, through the nineteenth-century mansions lining the historic Battery, to the marshlands surrounding the county, Southern Heat is drenched in the humidity of the lowcountry

Southern Heat hit all the right notes for me. I like the setting – coastal south Carolina and especially the dive Brack inherited, Pirate’s Cove. The characters are good. Brack has issues, but I like his attitude. He knows he’s a bit of a loose cannon, still grieves for his wife and knows that while revenge may not be the best option, ti’s what he’s going with. He’s a sarcastic and snarly and you’re rooting for him. He teams up with an interesting group of people, including Darcy, a pretty reporter who’s as tenacious as he is, and Brother Thomas, the leader of an African-American church who knows what’s going on in his community. I also really liked one phrase Brother Thomas used: “”A man can’t avoid reaping what he sows.” It fits the whole of the book well.

The mystery’s good. You don’t know who Brack can trust. There are plenty of bad guys to fill all the spots. And they all have guns. There’s a lot violence in this one. Brack’s Charleston is a gritty, corrupt town. But it’s not just an old boys network, the women here can hold their own too. and just when you think you have it all figure out, you realize you’re wrong.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I hope we see more of Brack.

One complaint though. I have an ARC and the blurb on the back gave away the whole story, including the big scene at the end, so the surprises weren’t really surprises to me, which was a little disappointing. I’m not above reading the end of books first, but I don’t want told before I’ve even started how it’ll end.