It’s summer. Many of us typically travel at this time of year; but this year is a bit different. We are in the middle of a pandemic and the act of traveling itself can pose risks to your health, particularly if you have underlying conditions. Add to that some places are closed, many people are out of work, and you don’t know what you may be facing in places that are not well known to you and some people are thinking, should I pass this year?
Let me make another suggestion. Try traveling through the pages of a book. Many years ago I took several vacations to the gorgeous area known as The Outer Banks in North Carolina. I loved the area, and would love to go back; but right now I’m not sure it’s the best thing to do. It would take us two days just to get there, and we aren’t that familiar with the towns on the route any more. Then once there it’s anyone’s guess what may or may not be open.
The solution? Pick up a book. It doesn’t have to be a travel book. In reality it doesn’t even have to have tons of information about the area. It can be a book in whatever genre you prefer, that is set in the area where you want to go. I you’ve been before, even the slightest references are enough to trigger memories that allow you to enjoy the area, at least in your mind.
Is it as exciting? Probably not. However, it is enough for me this year as I found out when I started reading the latest book by B R Spangler, The Innocent Girls. The book is set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and even though the references are fairly limited, it was enough to get me mentally there with the wind in my hair and the sand under my feet. It was such a success I’m planning my next trip, even as I type this. Here’s my review, if you have any thoughts about doing the same.
The Innocent Girls is the second in a new series by B. R. Spangler, set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and featuring Detective Casey White. Spangler wastes no time drawing you into the violence of murder as the book opens with the almost immediate murder of two people in an RV who have come to the Outer Banks for vacation along with their young teenage daughter. The reader watches along with the daughter as the murderer kills her parents and then follows her story as she tries to determine her next steps, all in the first chapter.
For the remainder of the book, the pace is at a similar breakneck speed. Detective White, who has now relocated to the Outer Banks and become a member of their police force is called and begins the painstaking work of solving the murder, starting with finding the missing teenager. Detective White’s own daughter was kidnapped years ago and she has been searching for her since. This information is detailed in the first novel in the series and, while not necessary to solve this murder, it is helpful in understanding Detective White, who she is and why she reacts the way she does. In addition, the whereabouts of her daughter are hinted at in the first book and are a minor side-plot for this book as well.
There are some continuing secondary characters, most notably Jerico, the former sheriff. His relationship with Casey was started in the first novel and progresses and deepens in this second in the series. Also making another appearance is the (now) Mayor Ashtole who was the District Attorney being groomed for mayor in the first novel. Spangler does a good job of mentioning enough of their history for a new reader to understand the relationships without rehashing everything that happened in the first book. If a reader prefers reading series, they most likely would prefer to read both these books in the order of publication so they can experience the development of Casey’s relationships with these characters.
As in the first novel, there is a strong element of the story which deals with young teenagers. In this case it is teenagers who have persuaded their parents to vacation at the Outer Banks and who have plans, unknown to their parents, of attending church services created by a preacher they met on-line. The more Casey investigates the murders, the more they seem to be entangled with the travelling preacher and his good friend and director of security.
If you like mysteries and police procedurals that are fast paced and filled with dramatic tension, this may be the series for you. An added bonus is the beautiful area of North Carolina, the Outer Banks, which has a cameo role in the series. It’s not much, but it may be enough to leave you longing for a trip to the beach or remembering the area from past visits. The book is well written, and the characters are three dimensional, both the good guys and the bad ones.
Whatever you are doing this summer, wherever you are going, stay safe and healthy. Here’s hoping you have good travels, no matter what they are or where they take you. Happy Reading.