Review: Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry Bonfire by Susan M. Boyer is the 6th book in the Liz Talbot Mystery series (available June 27, 2017).

Southern scribe Susan M. Boyer revisits her USA Today bestselling series with Lowcountry Bonfire—the sixth mystery to feature PI Liz Talbot. Earlier titles have won the author an abundance of accolades (including the coveted Agatha Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) and nominations along with an enthusiastic readership. This newest delivers on the sass and smarts they’ve come to expect.

“Let it burn.” With these prophetic words, Tammy Sue Lyerly lights a match and sets fire to her cheating husband’s 1969 Mustang convertible, which she’s loaded up with his clothing, in the middle of their driveway. It’s the kind of spectacle that draws the neighbors’ attention (not to mention the volunteer firemen’s), so there’s a curious crowd on hand when the car’s trunk is popped open, revealing local mechanic Zeke Lyerly’s stiff, awkwardly splayed body inside. It's something a scorned wife would be expected to answer for, except Tammy barely manages to let out a blood-curdling scream before passing out cold.

This is not good news for private investigator Liz Talbot or her newlywed husband and partner in crime-solving, Nate Andrews. It was less than a day ago that they provided Tammy Sue with the incriminating photos proving Zeke’s infidelity, and now he’s very much dead and she’s the prime suspect. Liz’s brother, Blake—conveniently (or not) the town’s Police Chief—sees a strong motive for murder and expects to make an arrest quickly. Consequently, it’s up to Liz and Nate to come up with an alternate theory of the crime and prove Tammy Sue’s innocence before she ends up behind bars.

Despite the seemingly incriminating evidence, it’s not hard to imagine that Zeke—who often boasted of previous careers as a DEA agent, a champion bull rider, and a NASCAR driver—might have had enemies unknown. Beyond potential acquaintances from his past, there’s the “other woman,” decades-younger Crystal Chapman; an equally enigmatic ex-wife, April Fox; and a begrudging young employee, Price Elliott (among others). The more digging Liz and Nate do—aided by their otherworldly friend, Colleen—the more they realize that domesticity is often the breeding ground for drama. While their own marital bliss is the for-real kind, somebody’s got them in the crosshairs—and it’s not Cupid.

Set against the fictitious backdrop of Stella Maris—South Carolina’s “lowcountry”—the book features plenty of southern charm: down-home dialect, lush locales, and mouth-watering meals (most of them served up by Liz’s mom, Carolyn, affectionately referred to as “Red Bird”); there’s even the requisite Golden Retriever, Rhett. It’s all very welcoming, but there’s an underbelly of secrets and betrayals that offset the sheen that Boyle so lovingly creates. What lies beneath is a surprisingly complex mystery that is likely to stymie readers in spite of the carefully placed clues along the way.

Lowcountry Bonfire is sure to be a mainstay at beaches and barbecues this summer, and for good reason. Susan M. Boyer has crafted a smokin’ hot story that burns from first page to last, leaving an unmistakable blaze of glory in its wake. 

Read an excerpt from Lowcountry Bonfire!


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John Valeri wrote the popular Hartford Books Examiner column for from 2009 – 2016. He can be found online at and is featured in the Halloween-themed anthology Tricks and Treats, now available from Books & Boos Press.


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