The book: Charleston, South Carolina, is the seat of Southern charm, naval history, and the wealthy community of Landgrave Hall. The rags-to-riches Dillard family is having trouble fitting in with their new neighbors, and it doesn't help that Huger and his father are repeatedly caught on the links at 2:30 AM. They do this because Unc Dillard is too vain to let anyone see him hit the ball; it's not easy to play golf when you're blind.
One night as Huger and Unc moor their boat before teeing off, they discover the mutilated body of a woman floating in the water. With the help of the gated community's security guard, they report the murder to the proper authorities. But before the coroner can arrive on the scene, the Dillards are confronted by naval officers from a nearby base. Very soon, Huger and Unc are entangled in an investigation that involves friends and neighbors from both sides of the tracks as well as civilian, federal, and military law enforcement.
Although Dead Low Tide is a follow-up to an earlier Bret Lott novel (The Hunt Club), the book stands alone nicely. Readers are given enough background information to understand how the Dillards moved from a double-wide in the woods to their 4,200-square-foot "cottage" off the seventh green and how they wound up as people of interest.
The circumstances behind the murder are complex and have deep roots. As a consequence, the reader--like the Dillards--is unsure whom to trust, and Lott keeps us guessing all the way to the end. A consistent thread throughout the novel is Huger's personal growth, which has him shaking off long-held guilt and fear to clear the way to a satisfying future. His prospects leave Lott space to revisit the family again.
There's a lot going on in Dead Low Tide besides finding a solution to the murder, which makes this literary thriller a good choice for book clubs. Topics for discussion include family secrets, physical handicaps, social class differences, immigration, and the power of the military.
For my review of the audiobook, visit the Audiofile magazine's website.
The Tea: In November I told you about Adagio's Ginger Tea, and this week I gave it another try. I still love the spicy aroma of this flavored black tea. It's very warming on a wet winter afternoon. Here's how the company describes it: "ginger is renowned as one of our favorite teas, combining the fresh, warming heat of ginger with the rich tang of Ceylon black tea."
The Assessment: Although Dead Low Tide takes place in Charleston, tea isn't mention very often--or maybe I just didn't notice because I was caught up in the story. I'm sure some of the hoity-toity Landgrave Hall residents have fancy teas in their cupboards, but the Dillards likely stick with the grocery store brand. They may be living on the correct side of Broad, but their hearts aren't that far out of the woods.
What About You? You know the drill--here's where I ask you what you're drinking this week. Oh, and you know I also like to hear what you're reading.
Thursday Tea was the brainchild of Anastasia at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog.