Book Review: Body of Evidence by Stella Cameron


A confident man is glad when a woman is his equal.

Stella Cameron

Body of Evidence by Stella Cameron has been gathering dust on my TBR (to be read) shelf for five years.  Big mistake!

I love, love, loved this book.  I was having a PTSD episode from hell this weekend, and Body of Evidence was wicked escape.  It is a rich and complex blend of mystery, romance, and humor.

Emma Lachance is a talented pianist who owns Poke Around ~ an eclectic boutique in an antebellum mansion in Pointe Judah, Louisiana ~ bayou country.  Emma’s husband Orville is an abusive good ole boy, small town mayor, and real estate developer.  He’s 15 years older than Emma and aspires to be Louisiana’s next governor.  He knows he’s got the perfect political wife, but this doesn’t keep him from slapping her around emotionally, financially, and physically:

Orville’s protracted campaign to undermine her confidence had all but wiped out any interest she had in men.  .  .How sad to have loved a man so much, only to end up hating him.

Emma belongs to Secrets, and the local good ole boys aren’t happy about their women finding empowerment and becoming uppity:

We’re just women supportin’ women.

And encouragin’ some to defy their husbands and boyfriends. . .wives who aren’t as docile anymore. . .The only men who would feel like that are the insecure kind who want to keep women down ~ usually by any means they can.  A confident man is glad when a woman is his equal. 

While Emma is out for a jog through an abandoned construction site, an ancient Cadillac hits a Honey Bucket.  When the door pops open, the dead body of Secrets member Denise Steen falls out.  Denise is an investigative reporter:

.  .  .she went after some of the slick bastards who didn’t want their dirty laundry aired.

There’s a whole lot of dirty laundry in Pointe Judah.  And, Denise isn’t the only Secrets member who ends up dead.  Ms. Cameron weaves it all together into a complex web of intrigue, suspense, romance, and humor.  I loved the unexpected plot twists as much as the ones I saw coming.  I also appreciated her talent for summing up the domestic violence experience into memorable nutshells:

  • . . .a prenuptial agreement. . .flagged Orville’s lack of commitment to the marriage.
  • I bought you and treated you like a queen.  I own you.
  • I have a rule about the way I live my life.  I don’t give in to fear.  Now, let’s have coffee.

She artfully dispelled the myth that a woman should and could “just leave” an abusive, powerful pit bull abuser:

I reckon the night he was born someone fed his mama bat droppings and messed him up somethin’ awful.  Why do you have to wait?  Just go, girl.

I have to make sure I protect myself. . .My husband is an ambitious man. . .I think he’s got a chance to become state governor, and if he does, he’ll be too busy and full of himself to hound me. . .an immediate divorce could hamper his expectations.

Holly snorted, “It sure could if it comes out he’s a sneaky, vicious abuser.”

You’ll have to be careful.

The only thing I didn’t like about the plot was that Emma was rescued by Finn Duhon, a decorated former U.S. Army Ranger with a bad case of PTSD and tons of sizzling sex appeal.  At the same time, the book would have lacked credibility if Emma had stepped too far outside the role expectations of the Deep South.

I relished their uber-steamy sex scenes.  I loved how Finn sank Orville’s ambitions.  Finn’s investigation into the suicide of his father, who had been chief of police, added several layers of intrigue as well as humor.  The jousting between Finn and Billy Meche, the current police chief, added depth to an already rich plot.

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