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Lowcountry Boil
by Carl T. Smith
River City Publishing, 2003
Hardcover, $27.95 (375 pages)
ISBN: 1-877-408-7078
 
  Along the coast of Carolina is a dish called Frogmore Stew-- made up of shrimp, sausage, broken corn on the cob, and lots of seasoning. Over time the stew named for a Beaufort County, South Carolina, town became known as Lowcountry Boil.  Often the dish is served by pouring the drained pot on a table and letting the guests dig into the mess. 

What a perfect name for Carl T. Smith's novel. Like the stew, there are several complex plots in the mix and boiling to a decisive climax. The characters and deed explore issues of community position and class, and seem to be an unlikely combination like shrimp and sausage.  The term 'Lowcountry Boil' also encourages images of steamy sexuality in the South, which this book offers in healthy helpings. And like Frogmore Stew, Smith's Lowcountry Boil should be devoured with passion and remembered with joy during the after dinner repose.

Smith's inspiration was an actual event from the 1970's, where some powerful men in Beaufort County played a dangerous game of drug smuggling and lost.  But the similarities end there. Smith creates a cast of characters with unique problems and goals. He also challenges his characters with choices of right and wrong -- what are you willing to sacrifice for money, sex, and power?

Lowcountry Boil is the first of a trilogy following Sam Larkin, a reclusive high school teacher with a mysterious past. Karen Chaney, a South Carolina Environmental Resources Officer, investigates Larkin partly because of her undercover mission and partly because she is attracted to him.  Soon, they are working together to bring the local smugglers down.

The Company, the name given to the local boys smuggling club, started with a bored widowed lawyer, a banker in his wife's shadow, and a black school superintendent. As they bring in a local poacher, crooked lawman, and an infamous big lot smuggler, the project gets out of control.  Some of the members seem to be overwhelmed by the amount of money, while others will destroy anyone in their way. 

Carl T. Smith has had careers in singing, acting, platform speaking, songwriting, and teaching at secondary and college levels. His first novel, Nothin' Left to Love, was based on the music industry. Smith was raised in Danville, Virginia, and he now makes his home on Fripp Island, South Carolina.

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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