dead wreckoning
Sidra Smart's search for an elusive schooner stirs up ruthless smugglers and the spirits of Privateer Jean Lafitte and Pirate Queen Mary Anne Radcliff. Newly licensed private investigator Sidra Smart reluctantly takes on the pro-bono case of Boo Murphy, a poor, countrified woman accused of murder. When Boo tells her tale of stumbling on the Hotspur, half-buried in a Texas swamp, everyone is convinced she's found treasure worth millions. As Sidra searches for both the schooner and evidence to clear her client, she battles an unknown enemy, and soon discovers they know their business much better than she knows hers. After several close calls, not only does Sid question her own abilities, she discovers her trusted mentor George Léger is involved in illegal activities that threatens not only their friendship, but also their lives. Even Slider, her half-paranoid, half Chesapeake Bay retriever battles demons from his past as the investigation takes Sidra back to familiar small town territory. Complicated family histories dating back centuries and feuding family relationships muddy the clues and the truth seems as elusive as the spectral schooner. When all seems lost, eighteenth century spirits of infamous Jean Lafitte and voluptuous, swashbuckling pirate-queen Mary Anne Radcliff show up to offer Sid assistance.
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Sidra Smart is looking to start over...fresh from divorcing her husband of thirty years, she inherits a detective agency from her late brother, Warren, and begins life anew as a private investigator. Over the course of her ensuing cases, she gets exposed to her fair share of danger - but nothing can prepare her for the daunting mystery soon to become the focus of her entire world...
When she agrees to help the diminutive, elderly Boo Murphy as a favor for a friend, what begins as a simple case of alleged murder evolves into a twisted, complex scheme of daring heists, shady characters leading double lives - and, on top of all else, a not-so-secret legacy of pirate smuggling. As Sida wends her way through the multi-layered mystery, she is forced to depend on her own wits, as well as the assistance of the unlikeliest of allies - her dead brother - as she strives to stay one step ahead of the nefarious characters behind the sinister plot - not to mention friends who aren't quite as innocent they appear...
Calling Dead Wreckoning an action-packed suspense thriller is making a huge understatement. Sylvia Dickey Smith's compelling tale of drama and intrigue pulls you in from the first few pages and keeps you spellbound as she weaves the tapestry of her tantalizing tale in masterful fashion. Her characters are full-blooded and three-dimensional, and she does an excellent job of preserving the mystery of the storyline, ensuring that you remain transfixed from one chapter to the next.
Moreover, Dead Wreckoning succeeds at pulling off the difficult feat of telling a story within a story, specifically by treating the reader to a little-known fact of history while still maintaining its mystery/suspense thriller edge. For readers who don't know much about the prominent role that some women played in the piracy trade, Smith's tale will come as an enlightening, edifying treat.
Taut and engaging, Dead Wreckoning takes its rightful place among the ranks of other truly outstanding contemporary mystery thrillers. Highly recommended.
Renee Washburn, Apex Reviews
Sidra Smart is at it again in the third book of her series. Divorced after thirty years as a preacher’s wife, Sidra is running The Third Eye Detective Agency which she inherited from her brother. Sidra is engaged, but taking it slowly. Sidra and Slider, her dog, live with Aunt Annie, in a haunted house. Sidra is currently operating her business out of the house because her private-eye office has been firebombed and needs to be rebuilt.

In Dead Wreckoning, Sidra takes on the case of an older woman who has been accused of murdering her neighbor’s husband. Sidra is determined to prove her innocence. While investigating the case, she also finds herself searching for a pirate ship, which seems to make an occasional appearance. Sidra discovers a connection between the murder, the pirate ship and strange happenings in the town.

Sidra begins to suspect that there are people close to her that she cannot trust. Enlisting the aid of a hooker, she is able to get some inside information. When she sees the ship, she discovers that it is not all there and that there is a redheaded ghost aboard. Knowing the history of the ghost and the ship, Sidra becomes more intrigued. She also learns that there are a lot of people in town who are related to each other, that also might be involved with some shady dealings. Things really heat up when Sidra herself becomes endangered.

Dead Wreckoning is a blast to read. Adding ghostly touches to a great mystery makes the book quite an adventure. Sidra is also a delightful soul who is regaining her sense of self after thirty years of a controlling marriage. I think that most women will be able to relate to her character. The other characters in the book are just as entertaining. I also loved that there are two dogs in the story that have important roles, especially Sidra’s.

Dead Wreckoning by Sylvia Dickey Smith is a must read for mystery fans, especially if you enjoy a touch of the paranormal and lots of humor.

Paige Lovitt for Reader Views