Blood, Ash & Bone by Tina Whittle is the third book in the Tai Randolph traditional mystery series (available March 5, 2013).
While this is the third book in Tina Whittle’s Tai Randolph series, reading the others first isn’t necessary. If you have read the others, rest assured that just because Tai promises Trey she’ll stay out of trouble doesn’t mean she won’t find some and won’t convince him to come along for the ride.
Trey is an interesting character. Former cop, former SWAT, former sniper, he’s built and trained to be the action hero sort, but he’s a math geek at heart and a brain injury has left him more comfortable with routine and predictable calculations. He’s the perfect counterpoint to Tai, who is unpredictable, headstrong, messy, and reckless. In fact, their relationship was probably my favorite part of the book—and I’m not a big romance fan. There was something about the way they were adapting to being a couple that was both realistic and sweet.
“I’ve discovered that nights at your place do not make for productive mornings.”
A soft exhale at his end, almost like a laugh. “I’ve discovered the same thing.” A pause. “I miss you too.”
He’d once explained what that felt like to him—a hard knot in the diaphragm, surrounded by an achy spreading warmth. I put my hand in the same spot on my own body and felt the same tenderness. I wasn’t someone people usually missed, especially not people like Trey. Usually people like Trey sighed with relief and straightened the slipcovers when I left.
Competing closely for that favored spot was the setting itself because the story largely takes place in Tai’s hometown of Savannah, Georgia. I have a soft spot for that city. Part of this is definitely the city’s age and architecture, but I’m sure a lot of it is what Whittle captures here:
Despite the rain, I rolled down the window and let in the smell of the Lowcountry into the car—the humid air thick as vegetation, the chemical pong of the paper plants along the river, the salt-clean top notes of the ocean. It was impossible to separate the land and the sea in Savannah. They encroached and flowed, sometimes antagonistic, always intimate, island and marsh and estuary in sustained endless cycles.
That river and marsh and ocean blend (minus the paper mills) is what I grew up with, so I plot to stop whenever we have to drive through Georgia. It was fun fun traveling there with Tai who’s a former tour guide, Confederate history buff, and expert on local lore. She knows the tourist spots as well as the back country. And she peppers her knowledge of the area with her own backstory.
I patted the balcony. “This place we’re standing used to be scrubland. When General Sherman threatened the city, the Confederate army escaped across the river to this island, then fled for South Carolina under cover of night. The mayor, waking up the next morning to an undefended city, wisely surrendered. And Sherman decided not to burn down the place.”
A massive freighter ship plowed its way past, blocking our view. It was as big as an office building, with Cyrillic characters spelling out its name.
I shook my head. “Every summer, some drunken tourist tries to swim across the river, with ships like that coming through.”
Trey measured the distance with his eyes. “That’s at least six hundred feet from bank to bank.”
“Correct. But drunk people sometimes make unsound decisions.”
I didn’t tell him I’d almost done it myself once, chock full of hurrah and stupidity. And bourbon. I’d chickened out, but one of my classmates had taken the plunge. The Coast Guard pulled him out half-drowned fifteen minutes later, upchucking algae and brackish brown water.
It’s a given that she’s bitten off more than she can chew, that mishaps will happen, people will die, and others will not be what they seem. In the end, she’s failed at many of her original goals, but she’s shown up—something that is incredibly important to Trey and something she’s realizing is important to her as well—she’s still standing, and she’s found that some things are more important than Sherman’s Bible.
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Neliza Drew is a tofu-eating teacher and erratic reader with a soft spot for crime fiction. She lives in the heat and humidity of southern Florida with three cats and her adorable hubby. She listens to way too much music, writes often, and spends too much time on Twitter (@nelizadrew).
Read all posts by Neliza Drew on Criminal Element.