I was recently invited by NetGalley to review a book by Susan Boyer called Lowcountry Boneyard.
I read half the first chapter and realised that if I really wanted to understand the character’s motivations, reading book 1 was required, plus the reviews of book 1 were excellent and book 3 started well so off I went and bought book 1. Not a bad result for Susan!
Anyway, this is my review of book 1 which is called Lowcountry Boil.
Now what the title meant was interesting so I did some research. The area we are looking at geographically is the Charleston Low Country – ie the river delta and the offshore islands – of which there are several that appear in this book under pseudonyms. Not knowing the area at all I assume that we are reading something approaching reality and certainly from what I hear, the Charleston area is boiling hot in the summer so that is one possible meaning for the title. The barrier islands vary in size and capability to support homes, many are just beaches and others are nature parks. The main islands seem to be: James Islands. Johns Island, Sullivans Island, Kiawah Island, and the Isle of Palms.
The unknown to me food I discovered when I read the book – the Lowcountry Boil is a speciality of the Islands called in the book ‘Stella Maris’ or Star of the Sea. According to http://charlestongateway.com/lowcountry-boil/ the boil was created by Richard Gay, of Frogmore, S.C., this one-pot wonder was used when this resourceful cook, a National Guardsman, needed to prepare a meal for 100 soldiers. This is a real mixture of ingredients according to the book and includes a combination of boiled smoked sausage, potatoes, corn and shrimp; seasoned with seafood boiled and cooked in a big pot. Crab, onion and butter are frequent additions. Ideally all the fresh summer ingredients of the area.
The other food specialities mentioned in the book include fried chicken, cabbage and collards, lima beans, okra soup and corn bread. This type of food is called Soul food or Gullah food. Gullahs being the slaves from West Africa who worked in the plantations and later settled in the Charleston low country. But all very fattening indeed…
The book has all the usual motivations for murder and corruption including:
There are several murders. Some blackmail. Lots of hidden motivations and secrets. A veritable boiling cauldron of seething emotions.
Great fun and 4 stars for sure..