Today we welcome back fine artist/teacher and novelist Laura Azzi to Write from the Inside Out. Laura lives in Raleigh, NC, and is extremely active in the Wonderland Book Club, a monthly gathering of the NC Writers’ Network Wake County members. While I’m taking some time off from blogging and decompressing the North Carolina Poet Laureate debacle, please enjoy Laura’s review of Lee Mims’s Hiding Gladys, a Cleo Cooper Mystery.
Lee Mims’s Hiding Gladys is a fun, light read that weaves the field of geology into a mystery involving physical altercations and murder. The protagonist, Cleo Cooper, is a geology consultant whose hard-headedness and risk-taking often finds her in dire situations both of her own design and circumstances. The rights to mine granite on Gladys Walton’s land in rural eastern North Carolina become muddled when professional jealousy, family greed, and an amorous ex-husband complicate Cleo Cooper’s path to riches.
Suddenly there is a murder just as the land owner, Gladys, goes missing. Someone is not only killing off inheritors but wants to off Cleo herself. Gritty, suspenseful and violent at times, this story pitches a lot of suspects into the pot. The physical attraction to her ex, Bud, always manages to show up and throw a monkey wrench into her emotional state.
Lee Mims makes geology interesting as she maps out the risky operations involved with surveying property for granite deposits. The plot embraces a working geology team as the complexity of mining unfolds within the murder mystery and subsequent mayhem.
I found the mixture of Cleo’s toughness and southern charm fun and comical at times, however, the focus on guns and gore was distracting. I enjoy science and am attracted to its tie to mystery, but I found at times the irrational decisions of a highly intelligent geologist confusing. I also felt some of the scenes were contrived such as the rattlesnake scene at the beginning; it did not add to the story and I felt it was placed there for shock value.
A nicely paced book, Lee Mims paints lovely imagery with words in both the action and the setting, taking the reader on an excursion of eastern rural and coastal North Carolina. Her characters’ rivalries, family greed, and an insistent ex-husband all make for an enticing and entertaining read. Hiding Gladys is the first installment of Lee Mims’ Cleo Cooper Mysteries which has been followed by Trusting Viktor, published February 2014.
Laura Azzi is a professional artist (watercolor and pen & ink) who teaches at NC State. With her diverse background in biology, medical research and business, Laura is always up for learning new things. She lives in Raleigh, NC, is an active member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and is working on her first novel about a dog, called Jacks.