"Lowcountry Boughs of Holly" By Susan M. Boyer: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and links to purchase it.

Liz in the Lowcountry

Elizabeth “Liz” Talbot is a partner in a private investigator firm with her ex-brother-in-law now practically-a-newlywed husband Nate Andrews in the quaint South Carolina island community of Stella Maris. She had returned to her childhood home after the tragic murder of her grandmother, then deciding to stay permanently. Family is family and friends are friends making life rich with a southern flair. There’s Liz’s proper Southern Mamma and quirky father Frank, her younger sister Merry and law enforcement connection brother Police Chief Blake, and her Golden Retriever Rhett (proper Southern name, my dear!). But, the most surprising and intriguing member of Liz’s world is her high-school bestie Colleen Stevens...who died more than a decade before when the two friends were seventeen. It has been three years since Colleen first appeared to Liz, and she learned that Colleen’s appearance may be best described as a mission from beyond, a mission often described as Stella Maris’s guardian protector. Oh, along the way, helping her bestie whenever she could! But after saving Liz’s husband from certain death, Colleen appeared to “cross over,” but did she? And will her “sacrifice” be more problematic for the living?

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Image Source Henery Press
Lowcountry Boughs of Holly earns 5/5 Reindeer...Clever and Entertaining!

Many communities have their own way of heralding the holidays, and Stella Maris is one that hits a high mark. With the Intracoastal Waterway as a meandering neighbor, what better way to celebrate the Yule tide than with a boat parade and plenty of Santas for good measure! Then, of course, deck out the town like a Hallmark Christmas movie, drink hot chocolate and listen to carols, enjoy all the homemade Christmas arts and crafts and try to wrangle a wayward reindeer was the star on top of the tree...perfect! But, while enjoying an early morning-after jog on the beach with Rhett barking at and chasing a wary crab, Liz happens upon a boat washed up on shore. Christmas cheer must’ve had this Santa forgetting to moor properly. But on a closer inspective and checking various pulse points...nothing! “Santa Claus is dead in a rowboat.”

The patriarch of the wealthiest Charleston family has been shot, and questions swirl: why he is on Stella Maris and why dressed in a Santa disguise? Liz had dealings with the family last year during a kidnapping case uncovering several family secrets and hoped for her safety and the safety of her family never to deal with them again. But, who would be so bold as to commit murder? Well, it seems that several might with confessions running wild like a herd of reindeer. Will Liz and Nate be able to solve the murder in time to enjoy the holiday festivities? And where is Colleen?

Happy Holiday Fun! Susan Boyer has penned a surprisingly engaging tenth book in her Liz Talbot Mystery series with just the right amount of non-corporeal intervention. I am new to this series, so it did take a few chapters to catch up with character connections, background, and the paranormal twist. After that became clear, I couldn’t put the book down! The murder has an air of Karma—wealthy family linked to the illegal drug trade, blackmail, and “life in prison-worthy” felonies—adding to the compelling nature, but newbie readers, like me, undoubtedly hope Karma’s naughty list didn’t include collateral harm for Liz and her family. It’s a no-brainer and realistic (my demand) that Liz and Nate get an official nod for assistance; the Police Chief is her brother, and they are consulting as licensed private investigators. My inner PI was greatly challenged by the twists, misdirection, and too many willing to take the fall, but the final somewhat nail-biting surprise was greatly rewarding. And Colleen, Liz’s guardian ghost? This is a very interesting and entertaining element to the drama, and the mythology created about Colleen’s existence, mission, and abilities is fascinating. Susan Boyer’s writing style is very entertaining, descriptive, and with delightful banter between good and bad characters. The interactions, regional mores, and description of foods added the southern flair I crave, and tempering the murder investigation with the Christmas celebration has me fa-la-la-la falling in love with the “Lowcountry.” No recipes, though, and with all the southern delicacies and descriptions, that’s my only complaint. Okay, how does one make a world famous cup of hot chocolate!?

Newbies...A great resource along with a map of Stella Maris for your literary GPS is the Who’s Who in Stella Maris chart on Boyer’s website to peruse the “Folks You’ll Need to Know,” “Who Their People Are,” “What They Do,” and some “Common Knowledge” facts to help get you up to speed.

Check out the entire Liz Talbot Mystery series!

Be a Big Susan Boyer Fan!

USA Today bestselling author Susan M. Boyer has received several awards and accolades for her ten-book Liz Talbot mystery series. 

Facebook: Susan M. Boyer Books

Website: Susan M. Boyer

Twitter @susanmboyer

Check out other Henery Press mysteries on their website.

To enter to win a copy of Lowcountry Boughs of Holly, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "boughs,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 5, 2020. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. BE AWARE THAT DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS THERE MAY BE A DELAY IN SHIPPING THE WINNING BOOK. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode just went up.

You can use these links to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds interesting, but Rhett was a Yankee. Count me in!

  2. Sounds like a good book for the holiday season.
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. It is always fun to read about how other communities celebrate the holidays, even fictional communities! This book sounds like a great read!

  4. I'd love to spend a Christmas in the lowcountry. Thanks for the chance to travel there by book. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  5. New author and series for me, count me in! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  6. I've read lots of great things about this series. Would really love to read.

  7. I’d love to read this! legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

  8. I’d love to read this! legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

  9. This sounds like a wonderful new to me series! I love reading holiday themed books when it is December!

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com


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