Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin
I’ve read the books in Mary Ellis’ Secrets of the South Mysteries. I thought Hiding In Plain Sight was another in the series as it takes place in Charleston, South Carolina and involves the Price Investigations agency. In fact, it’s the first in the Marked for Retribution series.
Kate/Jill (neither her real name) is on the run, living under aliases, and changing jobs as necessary, never letting anyone get too close. Now, she’s a private investigator looking for a woman who might be a donor in a life-saving liver transplant and caught up in a separate murder investigation.
‘This is your last chance to come out and talk,’ he hollered from behind the white beam. ‘I won’t be so nice in the future.’
This guy considers shooting at people and forcing cars off the road as being nice? When the beam moved over her area of marsh, Kate didn’t twitch a muscle.
Not when the cold water chilled her to the bone.
Not when mosquitos feasted hungrily on the back of her neck.
Not even when something spiny crawled over her bare foot.
‘Fine. Have it your way.’ The man switched off the spotlight, throwing Kate into darkness except for the weak light of the moon.
There’s a lot going on in the book in the sense that it involves three different story lines, plus a romance. Two of those story lines are wrapped up by the end. The third will be a continuing thread similar to Terri Blackstock’s If I Run series.
The book shows promise, opening with a suspenseful scene in which the heroine is dangerously confronted by her past (though I did find one aspect that stretched the imagination). From there, it slips into more of a mild romantic mystery than a romantic suspense as Jill sets out to clear the father of her very generous landlord and love interest of murder charges. I did enjoy the character of Nonni. She was somewhat of an entertaining cliché. The connection between Jill and Eric didn’t come off as strong for me.
Hiding in Plain Sight moved at a good pace, but I would have liked to have seen more explanation into the heroine’s underlying plight. Unlike Ms. Blackstock’s series, we don’t really know what the issue is other than it involves her brother. While she’s in Charleston, the tension of being on the run simply is not there, and after the first couple of scenes, it almost seems she doesn’t worry about the threat. I’d be looking over my shoulder at every turn. To be fair, Ms. Ellis’ books have never been true suspense. However, I think this one could use stronger tension by keeping the underlying story in the mind of the reader throughout.
From a pure escapist viewpoint, I enjoyed the book (and the food sounded great :)). I wish my star rating could rise higher than 3.8, but in comparison to other novels (some by the author) this is simply an average story with some plot points that had me scratching my head.