Honored Daughters – Reviewed by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘They parked at the side of the big house. She led him through the rhododendrons, past the ornamental pond, to the back terrace. Nyan stopped, and she watched his eyes roam over the antebellum mansion. He wrinkled his nose and turned away. “Let’s sit over by the pond,” he said. “I like being outside.” (Laura Kate said,) “If the sky opens, I’m going inside.” He moved his shoulders up and down. “If I have to, I have to.” The wrought iron chairs were uncomfortable without cushions, but he didn’t seem to mind as he watched the carp flashing their gold tails in the rippling water. After a time, he said, “Eight years ago, a freshman named Maribel Serrano was killed in a hit-and-run on Indrio Road. Six years ago Lydia Franklin was shot by a hunter’s stray bullet in the woods of the school’s property. Lisa Brownfeld hung herself in the bike barn. A year ago Doris Potaki drowned in Hewatt Homeister’s catfish pond. Ten days ago Dari Birdsong was murdered and left in a black farmer’s field.”
Laura Kate O’Connell is now the owner of Live Oaks Plantation which is located deep in the heart of South Georgia. Just down the road from Live Oaks stands Honored Daughters. Honored Daughters is an elite school for girls but not just any girl. To become a student or even a teacher you must be a direct descendant of a Confederate veteran. Dari Birdsong was one of those descendants, but her forced admittance brought attention to groups of the Old South that would have been better left alone. Dari’s mother was a direct descendant, but Dari's father was a black man. So when she was murdered and a cross was carved in her stomach it made most people look to the Klan and its offspring as being responsible. And, as Laura Kate checks deeper into the other deaths, she finds the possibility of an “ethnic-cleansing” taking place at the school. But again, are the deaths Klan related or is there a serial killer on the loose?
To make matters more confusing, the property owned by the school and the property owned by a male descendant, Hewatt Homeister, could be joined if Homeister died without an heir or if the school went under. This feud had been going on for several generations and wasn’t letting up, leading some to believe the cross proved the Klan, which has its own reasons for keeping the school open, may have been involved; but there were also those who believed Homeister created the deaths to discredit the school enough for it to close and the property to revert to him.
Following Laura Kate as she gets close to some of the hate group members, kept me on the edge of my seat. Growing up in the South myself, I remember stories about the Klan. They weren’t people I wanted to come into contact with and hoped I never did. In Honored Daughters Gerrie Ferris gives you enough suspects to keep you guessing throughout the book. There were times I even thought it might be the SBI agent or even that Laura Kate’s boyfriend might be somehow involved. When the true murderer was disclosed, I have to admit that I suspected them a couple of times but couldn’t see how it would have been possible. The ending was a real shock for me, and has me wanting to go back and read Book One.
Desert Breeze Publishing
Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com