I love reading a writer I’ve never read before. Stumbling across a new author is a special treat if they have the potential of becoming one of my favorites. If they are writing a series, so much the better. I felt a tingle of excitement when my husband handed a copy of Bill Noel’s Folly to me. Rooster did a week of cat-sitting for a friend. Every evening, he stopped by the house where Mittens lived and fed her, and took care of any litter issues. Rob brought us both presents back from South Carolina. My gift is an autographed copy of Bill Noel’s Folly (A Book review.)
I am not the best book reviewer around, but I would like to become decent at writing a good evaluation of a book someday. The best way I know to go about getting better is to have as much practice as possible. I decided to write at least one book review a month. My choice will be the book I liked best. Folly is my choice for April because it was a surprise gift that deserved a decent review.
Quick Synopsis of Folly
The book opens with Chris Landrum discovering the body of Jim Lionetti on Folly Beach in South Carolina. Chris, a Louisville human resource professional and amateur photographer, is taking an early stroll on the beach. His goal is to photograph the lighthouse just as the sun is rising. Instead, Chris spots Lionetti’s body off in the distance and promptly calls the police. A police investigation starts regarding the mysterious death. It becomes clear Chris Landrum is the only witness to the murder of Jim Lionetti, but he is certain he didn’t see anything.
Chris Landrum has more than one reason for coming to Folly. He would like to find a reasonably priced vacation home on the island. The novel’s plot takes a side trip into the world of house hunting in a quirky vacation spot. Chris makes several friends at The Lost Dog Café. Amber combines the waitress job and coming on to Chris with an expert restaurant worker’s skill. Charles Fowler becomes his tour guide and protector. Realtor Bob drives Chris all over the island in his purple car. Chris concludes a second house on Folly will be expensive
Unsolved Murder on Folly (A book Review)
Meanwhile, Lionetti’s murder goes unsolved. He is a local real estate developer, so there is a great number of suspects. Chris wants one of the suspects put behind bars fast. He didn’t see anything, but the murderer might not believe that he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings when the murder happened. Chris goes on about his life as if nothing happened. He looks at houses with Bob and takes long walks with Charles. Tammy Rogers from the Post and Courier becomes Chris’s love interest. (Sorry, Amber.)
Strange things start happening on Folly
But what if Chris did see something? Strange things start happening all around him. The house he is renting is broken into and set on fire. Chris remembers seeing a flash of something out of the corner of his eye the morning of the murder that could identify the killer. He’s not sure about what he witnessed, but he sets up an elaborate trap to catch the murderer. The book ends on a suspenseful note. Will Chris catch the fiend or become the next victim? (There is a great plot twist at the end of the book concerning the identity of the killer.)
Highlights I found while reading Folly
I discovered two main highlights while reading this book. The first comes in the very beginning chapter when Chris discovers the body of Jim Lionetti. It doesn’t take him long to realize the murder happened while he attempted to photograph the lighthouse. I found Chapter 32 also to be a highlight of the book. Chris sets up a trap for the killer, and it becomes questionable whether he will survive the experience. The middle of the book goes at a slow pace at times.
Story development in Folly (A book review).
Noel chose to tell this story from the first-person point of view. The reader only is privy to Chris Landrum’s experiences. After the initial discovery of the body, the story gets a little bogged down. A witness who believes he didn’t see anything tells the story of this murder mystery. The person telling the story seemed to be more concerned about house hunting than the crime until he realizes he might be the killer’s next target. The reader has a glimpse into the small village life as Chris wanders the streets of the small island community.
The plot heats up as things start to happen to Chris. Persons unknown break into his rental house. Then there is the little matter of the house catching on fire. It doesn’t take the local police long to discover it is arson. The romance developing between Chris and a Charleston reporter helps to keep things interesting.
Worldbuilding in Folly (A book review)
I thought Noel did a wonderful job of creating the island community of Folly. I could almost feel the ocean breeze and smell the seaweed as I read through the pages of the book. Rooster and I have traveled to the Charleston area of South Carolina many times. The description I found in this book seemed perfect to me.
Evaluation of the characters I found in Folly
The well-developed characters I met in this book made for an interesting read. Chris Landrum is the unwilling protagonist who stumbles across a dead body. He seems a little sarcastic at times, but that is reasonable for a guy who believes a murderer is stalking him. Stuck in the same situation my thoughts would lean toward the sarcastic. All the guy wants out of life is to have a nice vacation and find a beach house to purchase at a reasonable price. The way the plot develops, it looks as if Chris will get more than he bargained for before he leaves.
Charles Fowler is one of those quirky characters every novel should include in its pages. He appoints himself Chris’s guide and protector. At times, the reader is led to believe he might be the killer. He dresses in t-shirts with universities sports logos he has no association with scrolled across the front. Charles and Chris become friends.
A cast of secondary characters
Bob from Island Realty drives around town in a plum-colored cruiser. He is quirky in a small-town businessman sort of way. He steps in and helps Chris out after the fire.
Then there is Amber over at The Lost Dog Café. She is on the prowl for a man to serve as a father to her son. She turns out to be a good sport when Chris chooses Tammy over her. I thought she was the more interesting character when you placed both love interests side by side. There is a hint Amber might find love with Charles. I hope so.
Overall opinion of Folly (A Book review)
I found this book to be an enjoyable read. It would be the perfect vacation novel, especially if you planned to spent time in South Carolina. Folly is one of the books I enjoyed while recovering from knee surgery. At first, I thought it a mistake to tell the story from the first-person point of view of a witness to the crime who didn’t see anything. As the book unfolded, telling the story from Chris’s point of view made perfect sense, especially since it is the first installment of the Folly Beach Mystery series. I’m sure I will read more books in this series since I did enjoy Folly. Bill Noel has a website where you can order one of his books. It is www.billnoel.com. If you would like to have a taste of a quirky South Carolina beach community, I suggest you order one of his books today.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
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