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Glynn Marsh Alam: Bilge Water Bones

 

Crescent Blues Book Views Memento Mori Mysteries (Hardcover), ISBN 0972507841

Book: glynn marsh alam: Bilge Water Bones
Glynn Marsh Alam opens her books with a riveting statement that sets the tone for the mystery. This novel, her fourth in the Luanne Fogarty series opens: "The waters of the South are like its people, with dangerous undercurrents and a deep beauty. And like the people, they hide ghosts that ride the surface in the early morning mists.… We all live with ghosts. Some of us die with them."

Her ability to blend the gruesome and the beautiful amazes me. "…I do know a good many… have found their eternal niche where cold waters swirl over blue flesh."

A part of me wishes she would carry this lyrical, introspective tone throughout the book. But then, the refreshing voice of Luanne Fogarty invites me in to share her adventure. She sounds like a friend I want to swap gossip with over a cup of coffee. Her acceptance and familiarity of the Palmetto River's murky waters gives me courage to step into the surrounding swamps of Northern Florida.

In Bilge Water Bones a teenage boy disappears after a joy ride with friends in his father's boat. The friends swim to shore, the boat sinks and Luanne and Vernon, her lover and fellow diver for the local sheriff's department, look for the boy. Instead Luanne discovers long-dead human remains in the bilge of an old wreck.

Alam creates strong and quirky characters such as Luanne's favorite neighbor, eighty-something Pasquin. He introduces Luanne to his swamp community, including a crazy, old, wrinkled streaker who may know of a connection between the missing boy and the dead body.

The author's and Luanne's love for the natural world of the river and northern Florida swamps seep through the pages. Yet the author describes her favorite swampy setting as the perfect atmosphere for death and murder. At times the setting feels so real I smell the decaying earth and hear the mosquitoes hum. If only Alam would make her less quirky characters seem as real as her swamp. Luanne, Vernon, the sheriff, all need more facets, more details, more conflict, more moods, more life. But her plot twists take unexpected turns and interweave with a satisfying complexity that make this a delightfully spooky and puzzling mystery series.

Dawn Goldsmith

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