Holt, Jun 2002, 24.00, 336 pp.
After leaving the marines due to an exercise scandal leaving seven soldiers dead, former drill Sergeant Fielding Smallwood accompanied by his family relocates in Beaufort, South Carolina. Fielding almost immediately starts an affair with a local widow even as his wife Lena is dying. His adult children detest Fielding, who has treated his family like he did his units, but feels they are his failures. His son Hank returns home after doing the worst deed by going AWOL two years ago. His youngest daughter Claire is a loser divorcee with three children. His other son Ashby is an unacceptable gay. Finally, Fielding blames all his trouble on his fourth child Georgie.
They become even angrier with him when, without consulting his four adult children, Fielding has his spouse taken off life-support. As the children commiserate with one another, they all wish Fielding was dead. They got what they asked for as someone murders the former marine. Law enforcement believes that one or more of his chidlren committed the crime with Claire being the one arrested. This leaves it up to Georgie to uncover the truth because she cannot accept that brittle Claire had the iron to kill anyone.
HIGH WATER is more than just a fast-paced amateur sleuth mystery. The story line focuses on a dysfunctional southern family struggling with self-images and interrelationships, of which none of the siblings seem capable of maintaining. The story line is fast-paced as expected from a Lynn Hightower tale, but the plot clearly belongs to the Smallwood family, as the author strips their souls bare for the audience to understand them inside a strong mystery.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner