Wilmington’s social event of the season is about to unfold: Ashley and Melanie’s lavish Christmas-theme double wedding to their princes charming, Jon and Cameron. Vows will be exchanged at St. James Church, out-of-town guests are comfortably ensconced at picturesque B&Bs, and the wedding planner is none other than Colin Cowie himself. What could possibly spoil the nuptials? A hypercritical mother-in-law known to an older generation as the Sweetheart of the Silver Screen? A Wall Street hunk who has vowed to proclaim his love for one of the brides? A “Queen of the Tarot Cards” bridesmaid who is predicting catastrophe for the wedding day? Or is it the mysterious wedding crasher whose life of lies just might cost the brides their own?
There’s a serial killer on the loose in New York City. Young, successful, and highly popular television anchorwoman Kate Callahan is hosting interviews about the killer dubbed The Strangler. Four young women have been abducted then brutally murdered by the psychopathic serial killer. What the police are not telling the public is that all four of the women were dressed in period costumes prior to their untimely deaths. The police are baffled as to what this clue might mean. Unwittingly, Kate becomes much closer to the killer than she realizes for while covering a story on stolen paintings, Kate interviews the killer. What she doesn’t realize is her uncanny resemblance to a famous portrait marks her as his next target.
US Attorney General Ann Kelly has sworn to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” As head of the Department of Justice, Ann leads the charge against domestic terrorism in the form of church arsons and political assassinations. The battle turns personal when Ann’s dear friend, former Gulf War hero and now US Senator, Samuel Claiborne, is murdered in his Georgetown home. In a fast-paced explosive ending, Ann’s own life is on the line as she leads her team in an armed battle against a renegade militia group intent on destroying society as we know it.
As the historic Thalian Association is about to celebrate its 225th anniversary, Ashley and her family are involved with preparations for the celebratory events. Brothers-in-law, Ray and Cameron, announce a contest for best musical. The winner will receive a large cash prize and the winning musical will be produced as a stage play by the Thalian Association and then made into a movie. With Wilmington known as Wilmy-wood, the Hollywood of the East, there is certain to be enough raw talent to produce the play and movie right here – down-home. But is the cash prize so tempting someone will kill for it? Meanwhile, when the historic Montjoy house comes on the market, Ashley and Jon snap it up. They will restore the former boarding house for cash-strapped actors to its Late Georgian grandeur and make it their home. But when Ashley and Jon try to evict the tenants, they find themselves embroiled in feuds involving blind ambition and desperate greed.
In Wilmington, the azaleas are blooming, the dogwoods are flowering, and the bodies are dropping faster than cherry blossoms on a windy day. But it's spring, and Ashley Wilkes, historic preservationist, is much too distracted by love to give a thought to recent homicides, until one occurs at a garden party where she's a guest. When her client is arrested for murder, Ashley tries her darnedest not to get involved. But she knows the actress is innocent. And just who are her most promising suspects? Why, the entire cast of a hot, new locally produced television series.
When Ashley Wilkes, historic preservationist, and her husband Jon volunteer to restore the belvedere atop the Bellamy Mansion, they have no idea the restoration project will unleash a rash of bizarre murders. First, their general contractor is wounded by a sharp-shooter from a fifth floor window at the Carolina Apartments. Then a guest dies mysteriously at a fund raiser. And a body is found floating in the old cistern. The police are baffled. If the belvedere is ever to be restored, Ashley will just have to catch the murderer herself and get her project back on schedule. Unless, of course, the murderer catches Ashley first!
Why can’t the Wilkes sisters enjoy a quiet, joyful Christmas season like everyone else? Why do their best-laid plans get derailed by murder and mayhem? All Ashley wants is to celebrate a quiet Christmas with Jon and their precious babies. Melanie is about to be inaugurated as the president of the North Carolina Association of Realtors. Her plans include entertaining the state’s social elite at her lavishly restored hunting lodge. How could she foresee that a wealthy developer would take a header down her stairs? It looks like an accident, but is it? Then as Melanie is showing off her latest listing, a fabulous six-million-dollar waterfront property, who does she find in the four-poster bed but a highly controversial state senator, dead by mysterious means. A Colonial-era family will has surfaced that bequeaths a treasure to the descendants. Are Ashley and Melanie heirs to a family fortune? And just what is that fortune and where is it hidden? Is anyone else searching for it? And will they kill to get it!
With temperatures in the nineties, Ashley Wilkes, historic preservationist, heads for Wrightsville Beach where sister, Melanie, has rented an oceanfront sleeps-14 "cottage." But murder never takes a vacation and as the body count escalates Ashley realizes there is more to beach life than sun block and fried fish platters. With houseguests and neighbors all behaving suspiciously, Ashley's tempted to retreat back to town where she's restoring a 1920s Georgian Revival house, yet even the restoration site is fraught with danger. And nothing prepares Ashley for a moonlight stroll out on the pier with a crazed killer.
It's a dream come true for historic preservationist Ashley Wilkes: her restored Victorian house is on the Olde Wilmington by Candlelight tour. But her dream quickly turns nightmarish when a docent is murdered in the library, and her friend, history professor Binkie Higgins is the likely suspect. As the bodies drop faster than dead needles off a dry Christmas tree, Ashley's as busy as Santa's elves: proving Binkie's innocence, rescuing sister Melanie and a historic property from a ruthless developer. And, la-di-da, solving the Atlantic Coast Line's 40 year old payroll robbery.
This sixth book in Ellen Elizabeth Hunter’s popular Wilmington series is set in the Historic District where Ashley Wilkes, historic preservationist, is restoring a former blockade-runner’s home. Captain Pettigrew ran the blockade successfully before he and his ship disappeared during the final days of the Civil War. Letters found in the captain’s house narrate his adventures in his own words. As Ashley’s sister Melanie hosts a real estate investors’ weekend, Ashley stumbles over a corpse at Two Sisters Bookery. Then a terrorist threatens to blow up Memorial Bridge at the height of rush hour and Ashley’s beloved Wilmington is thrown into panic and chaos.
Halloween weekend finds Ashley and Melanie dressed to kill at the Cape Fear Crime Festival’s costume party where an evil trickster treats them to murder.
During the Prohibition Era, moonshine operations flourished along the creeks that fed the Intracoastal Waterway. So Ashley Wilkes, historic preservationist, is not surprised to learn that the hunting lodge she is restoring once housed an operational still. But what she discovers under a small mountain of moonshine bottles is both surprising and shocking. Meanwhile, Melanie's boyfriends are turning up dead. Is she loving them to death? The police think so. Thanksgiving weekend finds Ashley and Melanie sailing in the annual Holiday Flotilla. But are those popping noises they hear fireworks or gunfire?
Joseph M Knight