Recently, I’ve been trying to make some progress with my TBR pile. So far, so good. Below are reviews of a couple of books I’ve read and enjoyed. I’m hoping you might like them too!

Camino Ghosts by John Grisham

Camino Ghosts: A NovelI’ve read most of John Grisham’s novels, and he is best when he is writing tightly constructed courtroom scenes. This book does not disappoint. His novel is about the past, the South, racial injustice, environmental justice, and stories of Black ancestors that never get told.

Bruce Cable is an indie bookstore owner who has appeared in previous Camino Island books. He has quite a knack for bringing people together who share common concerns. In this story, he meets an 80-year-old Lovely Jackson, a Black woman who declares she was the last inhabitant of Dark Isle, an island off the coast of northeast Florida settled by runaway slaves in the 1800s. Now, a developer called Tidal Breeze wants to create a luxury development on the island. Steven Mahon, an environmental attorney, joins her case to fight off the evil development company that’s in bed with southern politicians.

Mercer Mann, a novelist, has been looking for a sensational story, and she also joins the militant group, Using Lovely’s diary as the basis for a novel. she reveal the origins of the inhabitants of the island, the brutal treatment they received on slave ships, and the curse placed on the island that kills any white person who step on its shores. That curse ramps up the suspense.

Of course, this conflict ends up in court. And this is where John Grisham really shines. The history of racial injustice lives on every page of Lovely’s diary, and it overflows into the court hearing. I really enjoyed her details of the history of the island. Grisham’s book reminds us of the long ago past, the truth of which has become the object of political wrangling these days. Based on an actual story, Grisham’s book is a treasure trove of history for those of us who love to read about the past.

Grisham’s characters were believable, their motives powered the plot, and the various threads of the story were woven into a very clear structure. When Grisham is writing about the South, the past, and the law, he is incomparable.

Thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book and give it an honest review.


Come Shell or High Water by Molly MacRae (launches June 25 but up for preorder)

Come Shell or High Water (A Haunted Shell Shop Mystery): 9781496744272:  MacRae, Molly: Books - Amazon.comMolly MacRae is well known for her crazy sense of humor, and this first in a new series does not disappoint. I laughed my way through it. It’s a humorous mystery.

Maureen Nash is a retired malacologist, which means a biologist who studies mollusks and collects shells. She’s also a professional storyteller, and her trip to Ocracoke Island, just off the coast of North Carolina, gives her an amazing story to tell.
A widow, she still longs for her husband, and she comes to the island ostensibly to collect and study shells, but also to come to terms with her new singlehood. In the flick of an eye, she sees a murder victim, finds an amazing shell, is electrocuted, and sees an 18th-century ghost. And that’s just the first ten pages.

MacRae adds a rollicking host of minor characters: a park service ranger, a questionable deputy, an eccentric brother and sister, a strange little girl, and a local pie maker. Even one of Maureen Nash’s sons stops in to check on her. But what happened to the dead body? Who is it? Why was he murdered? Add a ghost who died of drowning, seems somehow mysteriously connected to a valuable seashell, wishes to be the next Sherlock Holmes, and you have quite a flavorful cast of suspects. The setting on Ocracoke Island is also a valuable character, adding the local culture, stories, and memories to Maureen’s time on the island.

It’s a long way from MacRae’s stories set in the Scottish Highlands, but it’s a great start to a new series in a marshy island setting with some pretty crazy people to hang out with.