Whirlpool, by Lorena McCourtney (Kindle version, 2011)
Would you stay in a town where your ex-husband flaunted his lavish lifestyle and new fiancée while he stalls on dividing ownership of your former family business? Well, maybe you would, since there’s evidence he’s been less than honest with the company finances.
Stefanie Canfield chose to stay.
Arson investigator Ryan Harrison spent a miserable portion of his childhood in the town of Julesburg and can’t believe his company’s sending him back there. Surprise number 1 is the discovery that Stephanie’s still in town. After their shared underdog status in school, he figured she’d have distanced herself as much as he had. Surprise number 2: She’s turned into an attractive woman, and they seem to have some chemistry. Number 3? She’s one of the suspects in his case.
Stephanie knows she didn’t start the fire. Her ex, Hunter, is calculating enough to have done it, but she has no proof.
What she does have are odd “blurry” episodes, brought on by stress, when she can’t remember what she’s done. Under the circumstances, these happen more frequently. So when there’s a murder, can she really be sure she didn’t do it? Even if she didn’t, can Hunter successfully frame her?
I really enjoyed this novel, the first in the Julesburg Mysteries series. It has a more serious feel than Lorena McCourtney’s Ivy Malone series or her new mystery, Dying to Read, but there are still light-hearted turns of phrase to bring a smile.
Whirlpool is a good mystery, set in coastal Oregon. I like Stefanie, although her impulsive actions often had me wanting to shake her and say “don’t do that!” Not only has she lost her husband to another woman, she lost her mother to cancer the year before. And she may have lost her faith. After all, where was God in all this hurt?
While the specific mysteries of arson and murder are wrapped up for the authorities by the novel’s end, some of my questions aren’t resolved (will Stefanie’s blurry spells go away, and was the accident that caused them really an accident?). I thought that might happen as the series progressed, but the next two novels, Riptide and Undertow, focus on new characters and new romances. Stefanie and Ryan do appear, and all three books are worth a read.
You can learn more about author Lorena McCourtney at her website, or find her on Facebook. Whirlpool previously appeared in print through Fleming H. Revel, a division of Baker Books, 2002. The Julesburg novels are all available on Kindle, and since they’re re-issues of older novels, the prices are very inviting (under $3 each). See Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.