The Outer Banks in Fiction—Romance and Mystery
It seems as though in the past 20 years or so, writers have discovered the Outer Banks as a place of romance, where hearts and love are rejuvenated. Of course, we already knew that, but it is nice to have it confirmed in literature.
Romance, though, is not the only story to be told about the Outer Banks. There is this amazing history and of course, mystery abounds. And at least one really good local author.
We can’t list everything, but we do feel what we have is good start.
The Outer Banks and Romance
Nights in Rodanthe, Nicholas Sparks
We have to start here because it’s probably the best-known book about the Outer Banks. And the movie, starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane was shot in Rodanthe giving it an air of authenticity in spite of its fictional roots.
It’s pure romantic fiction, but Sparks gets high marks for providing a compelling back story. Dr. Paul Flanner—for movie buffs, that was Richard Gere—is a surgeon trying to come to terms with his humanity, and Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) is sorting through the ashes of a failed marriage and changes in her life.
They meet at a beautiful seaside inn and nature takes its course, although not without some personal angst thrown in.
Then there’s the hurricane. As a metaphor for their lines, what they are going through and the growing tempest of their romance, it’s perfect.
For those of us who live here or our regular visitors, well, staying in the north end of Rodanthe when a hurricane has drawn a bullseye on the S Curves would not be considered a wise decision, but it does make for an exciting focus for the book and movie.
Perhaps to underline how dynamic the north end of Rodanthe is, the Inn at Rodanthe where the movie was filmed, had to be moved to save it.
Outer Banks, Anne Rivers Siddons
Another bestselling author writes about the Outer Banks.
Siddons’ novel Outer Banks, is a more textured and complex book than Nights in Rodanthe. Both books feature characters trying to reconcile their past with who they are in the present.
Outer Banks brings together four women who had been friends in college. Twenty-eight years after leaving school the changes in their lives have been profound. There is bitterness, betrayal and resolution as the women come together after their long absence from one another.
The book is still firmly in the romance novel spectrum, but for someone who is looking for something in that genre that is a little more nuanced, Outer Banks works well.
A couple more romantic suggestions
Summer House Series, Jenny Hale
Jenny Hale has written an Outer Banks Summer series that include: Summer House, Summer by the Sea, and The Summer Hideaway.
For fans of romance and doughty heroines, they are the perfect read for the beach. Filled with wonderful descriptions of the Outer Banks in the summer, love, and friendship, Hale has earned a devoted following.
My Ex-Best Friend’s Wedding, Wendy Wax
A bit more than a typical romance. My Ex-Best Friend’s Wedding explores what it means to be true to yourself and the sacrifices that may entail. Very much in the romantic novel style, but with some interesting soul searching.
Put a Little Mystery in Your Live
The Coffin, Deborah Dunn
A double mystery novel, Dunn places her protagonist, Andrea Warren, on the Outer Banks in search of what was truly the fate of the colonists of the Lost Colony.
Warren is searching for answers—answers to the Lost Colony and answers to why her father committed suicide when she was a child. Yet as she peels back layers of archeological mystery, she finds there are people who don’t want her answering those questions, and they will go to any lengths to stop her..
A Death Long Overdue, Eva Gates
Who would have thought that a librarian’s life could be so exciting, but a 40th reunion on the Outer Banks, the body of the former director of her library floating in the water, and threats on her life change everything.
Harrison Weaver Mystery Series, Joseph Terrell
We admit it—we saved the best for last.
Local author Joseph Terrell has been writing his Harrison Weaver mystery series for a number of years. The books are wonderfully entertaining, filled with characters that readers will come to care about and identify with.
Harrison Weaver, his protagonist, is a crime writer who moved to the Outer Banks following the death of his wife. He had hoped that he would be reporting on crime in distant places, but he soon found that murder doesn’t take a holiday.
The cast of characters is wonderful. There’s Janey, Weaver’s parakeet, Chief Deputy Odell Wright, Elly, Weaver’s love interest, and SBI Agent Ballsford Twiddy aka Balls. All of them are carefully crafted characters who play important roles as the plots develop.
It’s hard to pick out any favorites, but here are two that are great introductions to the series.
Last Blue Moon in May features Chief Deputy Odell Wright prominently in a cold case file dating back to the day his nine-year-old sister disappeared. The story becomes a tale of undying love, perseverance, and ultimately closure.
In Deadly Dreams of Summer, Weaver finds himself deep in the world of human trafficking. The case is, of course, solved, but along the way, the human cost is portrayed with an unblinking eye.
Especially in Deadly Dreams of Summer, but in all of his Harrison Weaver novels, Terrell does his research so the plots carry with them an element of realism.
Terrell is a retired journalist and his style is the sparse, precise writing that makes for a good article and it translates really well into his stories. Highly recommended and great summer read.
One additional note—in reading Terrell’s series, it would appear as though murder is a common occurrence on the Outer Banks. It is not.