Southern Heat Blog Tour
Author: David Burnsworth
Publisher: Five Star/Gale
Genre: Southern Noir/Mystery
Format: Paperback & eBook
Gunshots echo down an antebellum
Pelton, an ex-racecar driver and Afghanistan War veteran, witnesses the murder
of his uncle, Reggie Sails. Darcy Wells, the pretty Palmetto Pulse reporter,
investigates Reggie's murder and targets Brack. Charleston
The sole heir of his uncle's estate, Brack receives a rundown bar called the Pirate's Cove, a rotting beach house, and one hundred acres of preserved and valuable wetland along the
A member of Ashley River 's
wealthiest and oldest families offers Brack four million dollars for the land.
All Brack wants is his uncle's killer. Charleston
From the sandy beaches of Isle of Palms, through the nineteenth-century mansions lining the historic
Battery, to the marshlands surrounding the county,
Southern Heat is drenched in the humidity of the lowcountry.
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“A man doesn’t have the right to avoid reaping what he sows.”
Saturday night in the holy city of Charleston, S.C., it was easier to find a cheap motel on the Battery than a parking space near the Market. Especially in July. I bounced over century-old bricks, made a big U on Meeting Street, and headed back.
My uncle wanted to meet for dinner, and I was late.
Three blocks over, a spot opened up on Chalmers Street and I shoehorned my Mustang in. A birthday present to myself, the car had a screaming V-8, chrome wheels, and black paint. Its finish reflected the glow of the gaslights. I hadn’t needed a new car. What I needed was something besides my dog to make me smile, and I was tired of double-shots of Beam.
To save a few steps, I cut down a darkened alley. A quick flash and a loud pop echoed off the surrounding walls. I hit the deck, rolled behind a dumpster, and reached for my Berretta. It hadn’t been there in six months and wasn’t now. The aroma of spoiled seafood from the garbage hit me harder than a bullet.
A voice in the alley shouted like my drill sergeant in boot camp. “Give me an answer!”
My eyes adjusted to the dim light. I peered around a corner of the dumpster. A figure knelt over a body. To get a better view, I stood. My foot hit an empty bottle. It clanged across the cobblestones of the alley. The kneeling man raised his arm. The silhouette of a gun aimed in my direction. I dove back behind the dumpster. He fired. The bullet ricocheted off the steel frame. I needed an exit strategy.
Receding footsteps of someone running echoed in the alley. After a moment all I heard was labored breathing and eased from my hiding spot. The figure with the gun was gone. The body on the ground wheezed. I got to my feet, hurried over to help, and found my uncle staring up at me with his one good eye, the other having been lost in Vietnam and now covered with an eye patch.
“Uncle Reggie!” I fell to my knees.
Blood trickled from his mouth as he said my name, “Brack.” His voice was rough and muffled by the liquid filling his lungs.
Grabbing my phone, I punched nine-one-one.
“Brack,” he whispered, and his uncovered eye closed.
The emergency line rang in my ear.
“I’m calling for an ambulance,” I said.
“Ray.” He coughed. “Ray shot me.”
I let the phone drop a few inches. “Who’s Ray?”
He swallowed hard.
A tinny female voice interrupted, “Nine-one-one. What’s your emergency?”
The life went out of Uncle Reggie and I placed two fingers on his neck.
“Sir,” said the operator. “What’s your emergency?”
“My uncle’s been shot. We’re in Simmons Alley.” I placed the phone on the ground next to me, raised my uncle’s chin, and gave him CPR.
In the middle of my second round of chest compressions, the howling intake noise and moaning exhaust of a car engine at full throttle made me look up. Flashing lights bounced off the dumpsters and trash lining the alley.
A patrol car headed for me, and I jerked my hands up in reaction. It skidded to a stop a few yards away. Doors swung open in unison. Two men stepped out and trained their weapons on me. “Police! Freeze!”
One of them moved out of my line of vision.
“He’s not breathing,” I said.
The officer by the cruiser said, “Get your hands up!”
Patience left me. “He’s been shot! Make yourself useful and call an ambulance.”
“Get down!” screamed a voice behind me. A hard shove made me hit the ground face first next to my uncle. The officer jammed his knee into my back, frisked, and cuffed me.
I spit blood and dirt and tried to take a breath. “He’s my uncle. Help him!”
The second officer knelt beside Uncle Reggie and checked for a pulse like I did. “He’s gone.”
It took both cops to lift all six-foot, two-hundred-and-ten pounds of me off the ground. I grunted at the strain on my joints from the handcuffs. They placed me in the back seat of a cruiser and shut the door. One of them rattled off something on the radio. I ran my tongue over a split in the middle of my lower lip. Blood on the front of my white T-shirt mixed with three-century-old soot from the cobblestones. Ten feet away my only family and best friend lay dead. I shook my head in disbelief. The moon cast everything in electric blue.
More vehicles showed up and the area erupted in activity. Gray uniforms and white-jacketed technicians crowded into the narrow passage between the old brick buildings. Cameras flashed. Two suits got out of an unmarked Crown Vic. One knelt beside my uncle. The other spoke with one of the uniforms, both of them glancing at me several times. After a few minutes, the suits teamed up and came at me like two sand crabs ready to make a meal out of a fish carcass washed up on the beach. I saw my wallet in one of the crab’s claws and realized it was no longer in my back pocket.
David Burnsworth became fascinated with the
Deep South at a young age. After a degree
in Mechanical Engineering from the and fifteen
years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Southern
Heat is his first mystery. Having lived in University
of Tennessee on Sullivan’s Charleston Island
for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife along
with their dog call
home. South Carolina
His latest book is the southern noir/mystery, Southern Heat.
Visit his website at www.davidburnsworthbooks.com.
Connect & Socialize with David!
Southern Heat Tour Page