Reviewed by Yvonne Schneider, Books n Treasures, Show Low
Orchid Beach is the first Holly Barker novel, one of dozens of novels by Stuart Woods. The story is located in Orchid Beach, Florida; a barrier island community by the Atlantic Ocean.
In the first chapter we are introduced to Major Holly Barker, who is shocked by the military court’s decision to exonerate Colonel James Bruno of the charges of attempted rape and sexual harassment against her and another female lieutenant. As she leaves the courtroom she sees her father’s car at the curb and gets in. Ham (her father) is a green beret in the service and apologizes for the court’s decision. Already ahead of her, he proceeds to tell her about his friend’s need of a number two man in the police department at Orchid Beach. Chet Marley meets them for dinner to outline the job. He has some suspicions of wrongdoing in his department but is not sure who to trust for help. Holly decides to take the job on and agrees to start as soon as her service retirement goes through.
Three weeks later Holly packs up her travel trailer and drives to the trailer park suggested by Chet. Riverside Park looks like a good place and as she eats she reflects back through her life to determine how she ended up there. At thirty eight she has been in the military 20 years, working her way up to Major over a company of MPs. Now she is a civilian for the first time but is looking forward to her new job as a cop.
Imagine her surprise when she gets to the Orchid Beach Police Department and is informed by Lieutenant Wallace that Chief Morley is not in. “Chief Morley is expecting me…I’ll wait,” she says. After extensive questioning by Hurd Wallace as to when Holly spoke to Chet and why, he reveals that Chet took a bullet in the head the night before. He is alive but in a coma she is told by Jane Grey, Chet’s assistant.
What follows is Holly’s pursuit of the shooter, her association with Jackson, the public defendant and an investigation into a very ritzy community called Palmetto Gardens.
I found the book to be fast paced and a very good read.
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