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 Mystery Review   

 

 

Judas Island
by Kathryn R. Wall
St. Martin's Press, 2004, 2005
304 pages
Hardcover, $23.95  ISBN: 031231387X
Paperback,  $6.99  ISBN: 0312934815
 
 

Kathryn Wall is living every writer's dream. The Hilton Head Island writer self-published her first book, In for a Penny, a mystery. It sold so well that a regional publisher agreed not only to publish her second book, And Not a Penny More, but also to reprint her first one. In 2002, Wall's books caught the eye of Linda McFall, an editor with St. Martin's Press. Suddenly, Wall found herself with a two-book deal with the prestigious New York publisher.  

Her next novel, Perdition House, sent Wall up the literary trail across the country doing book signings and speaking to writers groups and book clubs. So it's not surprising that her latest mystery, Judas Island, has taken off rapidly since its release in May 2004. 

All of Wall's novels are set along coastal South Carolina. And Wall's protagonist, Bay Tanner, breaks the traditional “super sleuth” mold because she's a female. Books featuring female protagonists have become more popular in recent years.  

And Wall has her ear finely tuned to what her readers want. In Judas Island, Tanner is visiting her father on his plantation in Beaufort when she gets a call from her partner in crime, Eric Whiteside. It seems that one of Erik's former college drinking buddies, Gray Palmer, now an archaeologist, has uncovered a grave on a barrier island just off the coast of South Carolina. Palmer suspects the bones could be those of a murder victim. But before Tanner and Palmer can learn the details, Palmer winds up dead.

Palmer's father offers a sizeable reward, which attracts the attention of Whiteside and Tanner. And Palmer's exotic yet mysterious girlfriend adds another twist to the mystery. Wall brings the tale to an exciting climax as Whiteside and Tanner discover the secret held for many years by the island. In the process, they almost lose their own lives. Judas Island is an exciting book to read.  

Mystery lovers are sure to want to add this one to their collection. Wall is an expert at making readers keep turning the pages. Just like her previous novels, “Judas Island” is past-faced with lots of action and several red herrings.

Anyone who has visited the South Carolina Lowcountry will recognize many of the landmarks in Wall's books. One of her trademarks is visiting different areas throughout the state to include in her books. Judas Island includes not only different areas of Beaufort County, but Charleston as well. 

But it's the gripping action, not the landmarks that will hold readers spellbound. So keep watching if you spot Wall visiting the Sumter area. We just might make it into her next book. In the meantime, Judas Island is one book that doesn't disappoint its readers. Just don't read it while you're alone. Or at least lock your doors if you do. 

I reviewed Wall's first book in 2001 and predicted she would become one of America's household names before she quits writing. And with Judas Island among her novels, she's quickly headed that way. 

 
Kendall Bell
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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