It’s summer and two Outer Banks authors who have a history of churning out great books are at it again.
Suzanne Tates Nature Series books are a wonderful read for children, and Joseph Terrell’s Harrison Weaver mysteries are the perfect beach read.
Tommy Tuna-A Tale of a Big Fish
by Suzaane Tate, Illustrated by James Melvin
Don’t be fooled by Suzanne Tate’s children’s books—they are meticulously researched. Everything a parent and child sees in one of her books is scientifically accurate; that includes James Melvins’s remarkable illustrations.
Tommy Tuna continues that tradition, weaving facts in with her tale. She tells children that bluefin tuna, unlike most fish, are warmblooded, something a lot of parents may not have known. She describes their migratory patterns and feeding habits.
She creates a personality for Tommy Tuna, so that a child can identify with him.
And then, Tommy is hooked by a woman in a pink boat.
Tate uses that as a teaching tool, describing the magnificence of the fish and why it should be returned to the sea.
“Look at the beautiful fish!” the woman exclaimed. “It’s so pretty!”
“Let’s turn it loose,” she said to the captain. “We can be helpful humans!”
Admittedly, that’s not an adult conversation, but for kids, it will resonate, and it’s a good lesson about how to conserve and preserve an important species.
Tate always includes a family connection in her extensive introductions to her books and for Tommy Tuna it’s really worth reading.
She talks about how she came up with the idea of the pink boat—a humorous story, especially for anyone who knows the people involved. She also includes some personal notes about how the story evolved.
The Nature Series books are great for sharing between parents and children. And they end up being wonderful souvenirs of a visit to the Outer Banks.
Deadly Dreams of Summer
by Joseph Terrell
Joseph Terrell is a master stylist. Here he is at the beginning of the novel, setting up the plot.
“So one day begins to shuffle into the next like cars from a well-thumbed deck, a tad wilted from the summer’s humidity.
But then suddenly one day slips out of that deck of cards.
And you realized, maybe not that day, but soon, nothing will ever be the same again.”
This may be Terrell’s best Harrison Weaver novel yet. It is a bit darker, with a little more of a bite to it than his other books, and that may be because he takes on human trafficking.
Terrell has a regular cast of characters in his books, and they are all there. SBI agent “Balls” Ballford, Chief Deputy Odell Wright, Harrison’s girlfriend Elly. All of them are in Deadly Dreams of Summer and they stay true to the characters who we have come to knows. It adds a sense of authenticity to the book, giving the reader the sense that they are truly a part of the Harrison Weaver world.
What makes Terrell’s writing stand out though are how wonderfully detailed the personalities of the characters he introduces to the plot.
There is the cleaning lady Dee, who tells Weaver her cousin Marissa did not come home last night. Hailing from Honduras, her fear of the authorities seems palpable, yet she masters that fear when Marissa’s body washes up on a Nags Head beach.
There is FBI agent Calvins, who even when he ditches his coat and tie to fit in more effectively with the Outer Banks lifestyle, still stands out like a sore thumb.
And here is one of the little things that distinguishes Terrell’s writing. It would be so easy to make Agent Calvins a caricature—but that never happens. He may not fit in, but he’s competent.
Deadly Dreams of Summer is a wonderful read. Perfect for a couple of days on the beach.