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Sutherland’s Crossing – A Beau Crenshaw Detective Novel: A Sinister and Twisted Murder Mystery by Gwen Kelly (Book Spotlight)

Set in steamy Charleston, South Carolina, the mysterious disappearance of a twin daughter to wealthy socialites has the town ablaze with rumor and conspiracy.

What began as a missing person’s case now has Detective Beau Crenshaw heading in a different direction when a body turns up at a swamp. The pattern of death is eerily similar to Mary’s, an unsolved murder from years earlier.

The collision of similarities too great to be a coincidence makes him suspect he is chasing the same person, but how can this be possible? Has this person been lying dormant all these years, waiting for the right opportunity to erupt, or is this a copycat?

Beau goes on the hunt for a killer. He can’t mess up this time. He’s given a second chance to get a madman off the streets.

What follows is a dark web of intrigue and deception that will push Detective Beau Crenshaw to his limits.

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Chapter 1

Sunday, June 18, 1995


A slight breeze caressed the Spanish moss draped over the limbs of the live oak trees—majestic portraits of southern charm—holding secrets of the past tightly embedded in every vein of their massive frames. Oh, the stories they could tell. A voice echoed brazenly through the forest walls.

“Come out, come out wherever you are.”

The salty air was oddly silent, yet noticeably dense. As the late-afternoon sky set in motion its dark descent, the billowy softness of the pure white clouds shifted against the backdrop of the periwinkle-blue sky, causing fragmented glimpses of the sun poking through the clouds. Staring long enough, the mind could take hold and contort the images into characters as if watching a movie, but in a flash these clouds contorted the mind into a new scene, forever in motion and constantly twisting the narrative. Audra knew her narrative was about to become twisted.

“I know you’re here.”

The screech of cicadas came from every direction as they started up their early-evening songs of the South, intermittent with katydids in a much higher staccato-style pitch, frogs croaking to the beat. As if silently orchestrated, birds harmonized their ballads to make magic. It was a classic June afternoon in Charleston, South Carolina, known for its relentlessly humid subtropical climate, and yet for Audra, this day would be anything but typical. She had to carry forward, somehow. Think, Audra, think, she told herself, and breathe, for God’s sake! Every second counted. From here on, every decision would have a life-altering effect. As an introvert, acting impulsively was as uncomfortable to her as orbiting the moon.

Today all her senses were elevated, her nose first detecting the rotting flesh of a dead animal nearby, its odious stink compounding by the potent smell of jasmine, which by itself is a beautiful aroma, unless commingling with the foul stench of death. Her eyes feasted on the scene before her to force the scent from her mind, but Audra’s nostrils couldn’t escape the wicked unpleasantness.

“Come on. This is ridiculous. Where are you?”

She shuffled forward and grabbed onto the weathered porch railing, stumbling with each step. Sweat beaded on her brow, and her drenched clothes stuck to her body, the material creasing and pinching her skin when she moved, its restriction only adding to her sensation of constraint. Droplets of briny sweat would land on her upper lip unnoticed. Every so often, a piece of the paint flaked off the porch railing and stuck itself to her wet skin. Pieces of her thick, shoulder-length brunette hair glued itself to her face, and when she raised a hand to swipe the stray strands from her skin, the saturated hair resisted leaving the flawless complexion.

The cawing from a trio of black crows jerked Audra back to reality as they flew past her, their tone first eerily piercing but eventually softening as they glided into the periphery, then disappeared entirely from view. Their departure left behind the sound of her heart beating madly in her chest. Each thump sent a chilling echo throughout her.

Why did everything have a sensation of being so exaggerated? She wanted to scream. And yet . . . there was still a drive in her pushing her forward . . . to get to the finish line. Like the sensation on a roller coaster as it creeps ever so slowly to the top . . . click clack . . . click clack . . . click clack. Finally, it reaches the top, and for a moment, is suspended in an odd weightlessness, with no way of turning back. You are now relying on the metal bar lying across your lap to keep you tucked in place, preventing an escape, forcing on, and providing a false sense of security. And as it crosses the threshold, the coaster picks up momentum, and that sinking feeling in your stomach begins an uncomfortable dance. The weightlessness is amplified until everything catches up. Then the nervous laughter begins, and you embrace the triumph of conquering the beast. The lines become blurred between normal excitement and what is deep-seated agony.

She spotted her twin sister, Abby, now, less than a 100 yards away, but Abby couldn’t see her. She was fiercely looking for her, though, and now mad as a rabid dog, screaming out into the swamp to an audience of no one.

“I know you’re there, Audra. Come out, and let’s talk about this. Grow up and face me for once in your life. Come on, Audra. Stop this.”

Audra felt conflicted. How was she going to protect herself? Everything was rushing forward like a dam that had broken. She needed to settle down, to think clearly. But the panic wouldn’t let go. The horrible panic. Oh, how she hated that word. She was sick of its grip on her, of its being in charge of her life knowing that panic held the cards for what the day would bring. She was so sick of it all. What a strange existence. Maybe death was the best end.

At only thirty-three years old, Audra didn’t want to deal with this, to experience this kind of torment. A ripple of strength overcame her, and Audra knew what she needed to do. She needed to finish the ride. She turned around and gasped as a voice broke against her stillness so close she could feel the warmth of the breath.

“Hello, sister. It’s been awhile.”


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Lovely Leo ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐: I am a once avid reader who in the last few years has not done much reading that is not on a device. I have to say that reading this book has rekindled my love of reading books! This is an amazing author who we need to be following and telling everyone about! I had a hard time putting this book down because every time I wanted to, a new twist happened that I didn’t see coming and I needed to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. I can’t wait to read the next book to see the story continue. I love it when a series wraps up the main event but leaves some unanswered questions on the backstories so they carry forward in the next book. I’ll be watching for Ms. Kelly’s next installment in the series.
Lee Austin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐:  Love this book! I couldn’t put it down. It’s a great read and I highly recommend to anyone that loves a good mystery thriller. I don’t want to say too much and spoil anything but what a great twist that I didn’t see coming! This book would make a great gift as well.
Kelly ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐:   This book was fast paced with extremely interesting characters! I enjoyed the story and it had me on the edge of my seat until the very last page! The character development was fascinating and the story was fresh and utterly unpredictable. I truly enjoyed reading every page!

Meet the Author

I am an award winning author who’s passionate about writing. I love to share stories. I’m always evolving to become the best fun version of myself. As I follow my path, I will continue to write stories, help shelter dogs find beautiful loving homes and aid individuals needing financial assistance to spay and neuter their pets.

My ultimate goal is to one day have a small farm called Sutherland’s Crossing Sanctuary for animals needing a place to be loved, to feel at peace and eventually die with dignity.

I have many stories still brewing in my head and will continue to write books in many genres – murder mystery, children’s book, historical true story, comedy book and whatever else formulates.

Please join me on my journey as I produce more books for you to enjoy and so together, we can continue to get lost in the world of words all while helping the animals!

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