Member Reviews

I was so happy to see this Liz Talbot story get back on track. Most of the other books have had crimes or mysteries off island, this one returns to Stella Maris where Nate and Liz are living. They are hired by the woman across the street from her parents to find out if her husband Zeke is having an affair. When they give her the evidence, she goes a little crazy. After filling his prize mustang with his clothes, she sets it on fire. When the fire department pop the trunk to fill it with water, they are all in for a surprise. Zeke is dead in the trunk.

Susan Boyer captured my interest quickly with this story. It was great to see the investigation proceed on Stella Maris. Liz is a strong, smart woman, who knows just how to question and follow the clues. I was kept guessing in this story as there were so many twists and suspects, yet no suspects. Coming up with the evidence needed was like putting a puzzle together. Of course Colleen is still around but not as much as in previous books. In this story, she materializes often and is a sassy 17 year old that looks wonderful. It is great to see that Nate and Liz are settling in as a married couple, yet this did not consume as much of the story as the last book. Once again, we spend a lot of time with the Talbot family and their down home hospitality and humour. When Liz's mama puts on a spread of food for the first responders that are investigating the car fire, you just have to chuckle. I love the town of Stella Maris and I can't wait to visit it again. Once again, a great cozy that has me ready for the next book.

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After a few serious books, and with a few serious books yet to come, it felt like time for something a bit lighter and fluffier, even if that light and fluffy included just a bit of murder. So I was more than ready to return to the Carolina lowcountry, the island of Stella Maris, and the investigations of Liz Talbot and her husband Nate Andrews.

This particular entry in the series takes off like a house on fire. Although it literally begins with a car on fire. There’s no mystery about the fire. Tammy Sue Lyerly sets her husband’s prized Mustang, an absolutely gorgeous classic car, on fire. In the middle of the street. With all his clothes inside it.

Tammy Lee just found out that her husband has been cheating on her. She hired Liz and Nate to find out what she didn’t want to know. And they found out.

But what no one expected to find was the body of her husband, Zeke Lyerly, crammed into the trunk of his Mustang. The only saving grace is that the body was found before the fire reached the trunk.

Of course Tammy Lee is the prime suspect. But Liz doesn’t believe she did it. Not that she wasn’t angry enough, or even that she was completely overcome when the body was discovered. Liz doesn’t think Tammy Lee committed the murder because she’s pretty sure that Zeke died of strychnine poisoning, and that’s not exactly the hallmark of the crime of passion that Tammy Lee would have committed.

So who did?

Some cases are all about the how. Those are the ones where forensics play a big part, and the investigators find themselves trying to figure out the complicated shenanigans that resulted in murder.

There are plenty of complicated shenanigans in Zeke Lyerly’s death, but when Liz and Nate investigate, the most difficult question they have to solve is “just who the hell was Zeke Lyerly, anyway?”

It’s not just that he was away from Stella Maris for 20 years, but that those 20 years seem to be a complete blank. The deeper that Liz and Nate dive into Zeke’s life, the more they begin to suspect that a whole lot more of Zeke’s really tall tales were really true. Especially the ones about his being in the CIA.

Did someone from his mysterious past track him down and kill him? Or is the motive, after all, a lot closer to home?

Escape Rating B+: This was one of those ‘right book at the right time’ situations. I’ve read a few heavier and weightier books recently. Even I Met a Traveller in an Ancient Land has a surprising amount of emotional heft considering its small size. So I was in the mood for something a bit less fraught.

This series always serves a tasty slice of pecan pie along with a juicy murder. And just a bit of paranormal woo-woo to add a bit of spice to the body. I suspect that how one feels about this series may relate, at least in part, to how one feels about the character of Colleen, Liz’ childhood friend. Colleen is a ghost, perpetually stuck at age 17 when she committed suicide. And her ghostly, perhaps even heavenly mission is to protect the island of Stella Maris. A mission she often stretches just a bit into protecting and helping Liz.

Like all cozy mysteries, there’s a group of regulars that surround Liz and Nate. In addition to the ghostly Colleen, that case of regulars is mostly made of up Liz’ family, all residents of Stella Maris, including her older brother Blake, the island’s chief of police. And he’s usually just thrilled to be working with his kid sister.

As a coastal island, Stella Maris has a lot of seafood restaurants, and that’s very appropriate, because this series always serves up some tasty red herrings. This case is interesting because it starts out so mundane, veers into some surprisingly strange places, but eventually, returns to motives that are close to home. And says a lot about acts and their consequences along the way.

As always, this was a fun read. I like Liz as a character to follow, and her relationship with Nate is still romantic without the romance getting in the way of solving the mystery. In real life, her parents would drive me bonkers, but then, this is fiction and not real life. A little of them still goes a long way.

But it is Liz that we follow, and she always leads her readers to interesting places and cases. I’ll be back in Stella Maris for the next book in this series, Lowcountry Bookshop.

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This is the first of the series that have read. It can be read as a standalone story but read the rest to find out what happens to the characters and how they got to this point of the story. Ms Boyer does a fine job of writing. Her plots are tight, keeps you on your toes and I truly wasn't convinced until the end who the killer was. There is a twist at the end and I rather enjoyed wondering how it would end.

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Lowcountry Bonfire

by Susan M. Boyer

When is a paranormal not a paranormal? When it is part of the Liz Talbot Mystery Series. When it deals with ghosts who are not angels of any type, but are guardian spirits. When the guardian spirits have a mission assigned by the Almighty, not the devil. When the town psychic doesn’t tell fortunes, but does share gut feelings about people.

Lowcountry Bonfire takes place in a small South Carolina town where everybody knows everybody else, iced tea and fried foods reign, and houses are built a story above ground level to avoid water damage. Liz Talbot and her husband Nate are private investigators working on contract for the local police department headed by Liz’s brother Blake. When Tammy Sue learns her husband Zeke has been cheating on her, she sets his classic car on fire. With the neighborhood watching, a corpse is found, and in the course of the investigation Liz discovers she does not know her neighbors as well as she thought.

Author Susan M. Boyer has developed a good plot with interesting characters. Many are suspected of murder with a surprise ending ahead. The semi-paranormal aspect was initially puzzling. As this is the sixth book in the series, I assume the guardian spirit’s presence was explained thoroughly in an earlier book. Not normally a paranormal reader, I did not find that aspect bothersome in a demonic sense; it’s a fictional tool whose purpose is to add a comedic touch. I would compare it to Shakespeare’s use of Falstaff.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

Notes: #6 in the Liz Talbot Mystery Series

Publication: June 27, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

“It’s hard to believe anyone in this town is that isolated.”
“Small towns can be the loneliest places on earth if you feel like you’re on the outside looking in at all that closeness.”

“I told him he didn’t pay me enough for how hard I worked. He said if I was more contentious I might get a raise. We went back and forth a while.” I rolled my lips in and out, nodded. Zeke must’ve told him to be more conscientious. Good grief.

“People often do things that make no sense to the rest of us,” she said. “The challenge is to love them anyway.”

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This was my first "Liz Talbot" mystery - and most likely my last (no fault of the author).

The story was engaging enough - small town murder, lots of suspects, lots of secrets, a strange investigative "partnership". There were plenty of twists and turns as we are drawn into the mystery. And eventhough this is number six in a series, it was easy to read and follow. The reader is not overly bogged down by heavy plot-lines or too many side-stories, and this had a manageable cast of characters. It is standard "cozy mystery" fare - an enjoyable afternoon escape.

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PIs extraordinaire Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews have been hired by Tammy Sue Lyerly to find out if her husband Zeke is having an affair, even they're surprised when they tell Tammy Sue that Zeke has indeed been doing the horizontal mambo with a local bimbo. Not so much surprised by that, but the fact that Tammy Sue is standing outside in her yard - across the street from Liz' parents home - setting fire to Zeke's prized Mustang and screaming wildly. Also in attendance is Liz' brother Blake, the island of Stella Maris police chief, the volunteer fire department, and what seems like half the town itself.

But what no one expects is when Blake orders Pete Carter to open the trunk in order to prevent an explosion - and finds the body of Tammy Sue's wayward husband. How he got there and why is a mystery, and with Tammy Sue seeing him and fainting dead away, the mystery only deepens. Liz and Nate are now employed by the town to investigate, and with Tammy Sue as the only suspect, Liz knows better. While the woman may have torched her husband's car, she knows there's no way she would have murdered the man she loved.

When Liz and Nate start digging deeper, they come up with not only more suspects, but start finding out that Zeke, a notorious teller of tall tales, may actually have been telling the truth. But is that what got him killed? Or was it something closer to home and someone he trusted who decided to end his life? Since it appears the killer is now aiming for them, it will take all their sleuthing skills to find a killer before one of them find their own life extinguished...

This is the sixth book in the Liz Talbot series, and as such, the author does not disappoint. She dives right into the action from the beginning with Zeke's body discovered almost immediately. Now this could be a detriment, since we don't get to know the man; and oftentimes when this happens we don't care one way or another about the dead person. Do we like or hate him? Is he a jerk who regularly cheats? Is he a nice guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time? But have no fear - as the story progresses, so does the life of Zeke. We learn all about him, his history, his relationship with his wife; and this is the meat of the story.

Yes, we're out to find a killer, the same as Liz; but we also discover things about Zeke that bring him to life after death. And this, my friends, makes all the difference. We learn who he was, what he felt and thought; and because of this, there is a sorrow to his death that makes us as determined as Liz to find a murderer.

The mystery is raw, driven, and well thought out; secrets are discovered and even the nicest seeming people become suspects. In between all of this, we are treated to southern hospitality on Stella Maris; with people who are concerned about manners and the fact that you must eat - a lot - to maintain your strength and sanity; and any breach of etiquette is considered a sin. It is a delightful addition and with just enough levity to keep the story from being too dark.

And, of course, we have Colleen, the ghost of Liz' best friend whose mission is to protect Stella Maris from interlopers and also to help Liz - when she can. Though not as prominent in this book as in others, the few scenes she does appear in are memorable.

When all is said and done, the killer finally caught and truths discovered, we learn that all actions have an equal reaction. And what might seem like harmless fun may cause more than pain. Cruelty comes in many forms, and mindless cruelty is the worst of all. Highly recommended, and I eagerly await the next in the series.

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Another Liz Talbot story is always a good thing. I love the small town feel of the books, and the wonderful way which these Southern lives are described. A good setting is as important to good characters in mysteries.

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"Lowcountry Bonfire" is the 6th book in the Liz Talbot Mystery series. The book is set on the sea island of Stella Maris, South Carolina. Liz Talbot and her husband, Nate Andrews, are private investigators. They had just finished up a case for Tammy Sue Lyerly and had discovered that her husband, Zeke, was cheating on her. When Zeke shows up murdered and Tammy Sue is the prime suspect, Blake Talbot, Liz's brother and the Stella Maris Police Chief, asks Liz and Nate to join in the investigation as consultants to find out who murdered Zeke. Having grown up in the Charleston area, I love anything and everything about the SC lowcountry. Ms. Boyer has once again captured the essence of island living in small-town South Carolina. Her style of writing is descriptive, detailed and authentic. While reading, you feel like you are there. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes cozy mysteries, a great story and lots of Southern charm!

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I was already a fan of this author and the series, but one never knows if the latest in a series will live up to its predecessors. Whew! Bonfire was a continuation in the best ways, managing to show growth of the protagonists but giving us a fresh story line and a visit with good friends. I am really looking forward to the next adventure.

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Private Investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews are hired to find out if Zeke has been cheating on his wife Tammy Sue. When Tammy Sue fills her husband's vintage Mustang with his clothes and lights it on fire, Liz and Nate are shocked to find Zeke's body in the trunk.

What follows is a whirlwind investigation for Zeke's killer and a search for the reason why.

This is one of those series that people have told me about for a long time, and I always said I wanted to read, but I never did. But when the publisher offered it on NetGalley, I decided to take a chance.

I'm sorry it took me so long to get to this series. Ms. Boyer packs a real punch with this story, that has great characters and a mystery that kept me guessing. I love the town of Stella Maris and I can't wait to visit it again. Who doesn't love a town were a neighbor puts on a great spread of food for the first responders who are investigating the fire.

Liz is a strong independent woman who takes on the case full blast and doesn't stop until she finds out the truth. I loved learning about her relationship with Nate. The best part about waiting is that I have five more books to read in this entertaining group of books.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

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I've enjoyed reading all of the Low Country Boil books and would highly recommend this book to family and friends.

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I have really enjoyed all of the Liz Talbot books so far, and this was no exception. In this one, Liz and partner Nate, investigate after a client's husband is murdered. As they dig into the case, they find secrets and scandals.

I think Liz is a great main character and I enjoy her interactions with her business partner, Nate. They were both fun in this one, and I found the storyline to be interesting and entertaining.

A great addition to the series!

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Stella Maris PIs Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews are hired by Tammy Sue Lyerly to get proof her husband Zeke is cheating on her. After Liz and Nate deliver incriminating photos to their client, Tammy Sue sets Zeke's clothes and beloved Mustang on fire. But everyone is shocked when Zeke's body is found in the car's trunk and Tammy Sue becomes the prime suspect in his murder. Zeke had told plenty of tall-tales about his past. A large number of hidden guns at his home, as well as money and numerous passports in Zeke's safety deposit box, indicate Zeke had a shady past that may have come to haunt him. Plenty of good Southern charm with wonderful food, sights and family. This is the sixth book in the Liz Talbot series and another fun entry.

I received this book for free from Netgalley and Henery Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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4.5 stars

Lowcountry Bonfire
A Liz Talbot Mystery #6
Susan M. Boyer
Henery Press, June 2017
ISBN 978-1-63511-227-6
Trade Paperback
Also available in hardcover

From the publisher—

Private Investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews have worked their share of domestic cases. So when Tammy Sue Lyerly hires them to find out what her husband is hiding, they expect to find something looney but harmless. After all, this is the guy who claims to have been a DEA agent, a champion bull rider, and a NASCAR driver. But when he turns up dead the morning after Liz and Nate deliver the incriminating photos, Tammy is the prime suspect.

Questioning the truth of Zeke Lyerly’s tall-tales, Liz and Nate race to uncover small town scandals, long buried secrets, and the victim’s tumultuous past to keep Tammy Sue out of jail and the case from going up in flames.

Zeke Lyerly was a teller of tall tales, many involving Army Ranger-style exploits, race cars, hot women, guns and the like and no one really believed them although they were certainly entertaining. His latest adventure wasn’t so captivating but was he really killed because of something so mundane as cheating on his wife? Tammy Sue can’t help but be Suspect Number One when Zeke is found in the trunk of his car, the very car she had set on fire with such vim and vigor, but Liz and Nate have serious doubts. Fortunately for all concerned, the police chief, who happens to be Liz’s brother, Blake, has to let them in on the investigation because of a contractual arrangement. Otherwise, they’d have to skulk around to clear their client.

As a group, the recurring characters in this series are among my favorites but none surpass the delightful Colleen who just happens to be a ghost and can be seen and heard by only Liz and Nate. Colleen has been a real help in solving cases because she can go places and see or hear things that Liz can’t and her snarky attitude always adds an element of humor. Unfortunately, Colleen is not around quite as much this time and our two private eyes have to work a little harder because of it.

The mystery of who killed Zeke and stuffed him in his own car is only the beginning of what could be quite a convoluted story but, in the end, all comes together. Liz and Nate, with more than a little help from friends and family, have to answer a lot of questions and connect the dots in their efforts to clear Tammy Sue (who, by the way, is a pistol). Secrets come to light and the ugly face of revenge surprises most of the residents of this tiny island. It just goes to show that living in a small community doesn’t necessarily mean that your neighbors know everything about you 😉

All in all, I enjoyed this sixth entry in the series every bit as much as the earlier books and my affection for these people hasn’t cooled at all. Ms. Boyer is just going to have to get the next one out PDQ!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2017.

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Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews are hired to follow a "cheating" husband and give the evidence to his wife. When they do, Tammy Sue takes matters into her own hands. She piles Zeke's clothes into his vintage 1969 Mustang and sets them on fire. When the fire is out, she discovers Zeke's body in a a grisly death rictus in the trunk. Who would kill the likeable Zeke. Is there someone from his 20-year absence from Stella Maris, South Carolina, who sought him out or is there something else from his past. A tale of death, blame and revenge. I recommend it.

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Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

Southerners love to tell tall tales. We like a good story. Nobody wants to hear about catching a fish that was *this big*- we want to know about THE BIG FISH. Or the GREAT deal. And so on and so forth.. Southerners are natural born story tellers and Zeke fit the bill 100%.

Even his how dead body was found made for a great story!

My fav sleuthing duo- Liz and Nate- are trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Zeke, but some people don’t want the truth to be revealed. AT ALL.

What I liked:

Cover. Listen, this Henery Press people know good covers.. and are not afraid to design them 😉

The dynamic duo of Liz and Nate. This is just a personal theory of mine, but I think some cozy mystery type authors are afraid to have their main characters select the man they are interested in (if it’s a love triangle) and especially have them married. Maybe it’s that Moonlighting theory (the suspense and anticipation of the “will they or won’t they?”) BUT Susan M. Boyer is showing authors everywhere that your character can get married and still be sexy and flirtatious with her husband. Love the chemistry of Liz and Nate.

The mystery. It kept me guessing!

Bottom line: Susan M. Boyer’s Lowcountry series has me wishing I could be a PI, trade in Mississippi roots and move to South Carolina. Love this book!

*This book was sent to Traveling With T for review consideration. All thoughts and opinions are mine alone.*

** Lowcountry Bonfire is a 22 Beach Reads for your Summer Vacation suggestion from Traveling With T. **

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The Lowcountry series has been sitting in my "recommendations" for awhile now, so when I saw it pop up on Netgalley, I requested it. This is the 6th installment of the Liz Talbot Mysteries and while there is some minor background info that I'm sure the previous books would fill in for me, I firmly say that this book can be read on its own.

Liz Talbot is a private investigator deep in the South who gets the occasional help from Colleen, a 17 year old ghost that was one of friends (when she was alive) in high school. In this book, Liz and her husband Nate (also a PI) are investigating the death of man that lived across the street from her parents who was found dead in the back of his prized '69 Mustang. Susan told a wonderful story so deeply immersed in the Southern culture that you know she grew up in the South. No one else would so effortlessly nail all that there is to being a Southern.

I really enjoyed this book. It won't have you turning the pages long past your bedtime, it has a touch of cozy mystery to it rather than straight suspense, but it will be a book that you finish and look forward to the next. The characters are easy to like and easy to relate to which seems to be no small feat in the books that I've picked up lately. Worth the read!

Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Tammy Sue gave new meaning to "Hell hath no fury" when she turned Zeke's prized Mustang into one ball of fire! But she had no way to know that Zeke was already dead - or did she? It won't be easy for Liz and Nate to find the true killer and to prove Tammy Sue's innocence. Who was Zeke anyway? A good ole boy or a CIA operative?

As always Susan Boyer writes with a true southern voice and the latest installment in the Lowcounty series does not disappoint. Grab your flip flops and beach chair and step onto the sands of Stella Maris. This one is a winner!

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My mom and cousins also will be happy to hear about Susan M. Boyer's Lowcountry Bonfire (Henery Press, digital galley), the sixth in the lighthearted series featuring P.I. Liz Talbot, who tied the knot with her partner Nate Andrews in Lowcountry Bordello. Their client Tammy Sue Lyerly, after receiving proof that her mechanic husband Zeke was cheating on her, sets fire to his favorite possessions in his favorite car. She claims she had no idea Zeke's body was in the trunk. Liz and Nate are about the only ones on the little South Carolina island of Stella Maris who believe her. Determined to prove Tammy's innocence, they start digging into Zeke's colorful and mysterious past, which supposedly included stints as a DEA agent and a NASCAR driver. Seems trouble may have started at a bonfire on the beach back in the spring, although the mystery is almost overshadowed by all the lowcountry talk, atmosphere and food. Fine with me. I want to move in with Liz, Nate and their golden retriever Rhett.
from On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever

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