“Could a concealed crime from the 1800s, or the family’s estate itself, harbor keys to unlocking the past?”
Catherine “Tink” Mabry, an up-and-coming attorney, is shocked by her recent inheritance from her estranged family on the bayou. After her mother died during childbirth, Tink’s father had quickly relocated them to the big city of Atlanta, Georgia.
With no memory of her mother, she is determined to learn more about her lineage and decides to visit the bayou town of Kane, Louisiana. Candace, Tink’s co-worker, and her best friend agrees to make the trip with her.
Before she has time to explore her family’s history or decide what to do with the declining property, local murders plague Tink’s homecoming. She quickly finds herself caught in the middle of a multiple murder investigation—and quite possibly, the prime suspect. When Candace retreats back to Atlanta, Tink finds support among an unlikely cast of characters and sets out to discover clues that have haunted and tormented her family for generations.
Could a concealed crime from the 1800s, or the family’s estate itself, harbor keys to unlocking the past? The more they learn, the more they question whether some secrets are best left buried.
Amazon Reader: “Dark Secrets of the Bayou is Kim’s best novel yet. Spellbinding! I didn’t want to put it down, but I didn’t want it to end!”
Targeted Age Group:: 16 and up
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I am so often inspired by places, and Louisiana is not an exception. Its beauty, mystique, and unique history made it a perfect setting for a great mystery. Add to that the twisted legacy of a wealthy plantation owner, an enormous antebellum mansion built to portray the family's wealth, the deafening silence of the murky bayou, and some dark secrets no one wants to be unearthed, and you have a creepy, unpredictable thriller.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The book follows five generations of the Sinclair family and their slave's descendants. I wish I could take credit for the characters, but they quickly developed their own attributes and idiosyncrasies. They certainly don't disappoint.
KANE, LOUISIANA, 1859
EMMANUEL SINCLAIR STOOD BACK surveyed the sprawling plantation that had encompassed his life for the past two years. He nodded with pleasure as if someone were there awaiting his approval. Placed perfectly amidst rows of river oaks, magnolias, and sycamores, the estate was breathtakingly beautiful. The well-designed landscape surrounding the home contrasted sharply with the bald cypress and coastal willows rising prominently from the waters in the bayou.
Emmanuel had no doubt, Lucretia, his soon-to-be bride, would be delighted with her stately new home. Within the next twenty-four hours, she was scheduled to go by train from Baltimore to the Ohio River.
Lucretia would then travel by steamboat via Ohio and the Mississippi to New Orleans, where Emmanuel would be waiting for her. Lucretia’s trip would be grueling, but she’d experienced many challenges over her eighteen years. Her grandparents had been part of the Expulsion of 1755 when the British ejected all French-Acadians refusing to pledge allegiance to England's King. Originally settling in Maine, her family relocated to New York before putting down permanent stakes in Baltimore.
Young Lucretia longed for consistency, and it had been Emmanuel’s stability that’d won her over. By the age of thirty-five, he’d already made his fortune in the cotton business. His father had died seven years earlier, leaving Emmanuel a sizeable concession of land and a fledgling cotton crop, which, at best, kept the plantation self-sufficient. But it was the combination of Emmanuel’s business savvy, the increase of cotton production, and Louisiana’s strategic ports that’d quickly increased his wealth.
AS EMMANUEL HAD BEEN STEADILY BUILDING a prosperous empire, Thaddeus Jackson had been constructing a flourishing kingdom of his own on an equally expansive plantation a few miles away. Thaddeus had his father, Mathias, to thank for being born a free man of color. He had caught Andrew Jackson’s eye as a standout on the battlefield during the War of 1812. His grueling work ethic and leadership skills played a pivotal in constructing breastworks, later referred to as Line Jackson.
Thaddeus had quickly tired of the story, even as a young boy, and considered his father nothing more than a yes-man who’d covered cotton bales with logs and mud to protect the white army. However, Andrew Jackson had been quite impressed— enough so, in fact, that he’d facilitated Mathias’s freedom. Not one to take any blessing for granted, Mathias had chosen to acquire Jackson’s surname out of gratitude.
Thaddeus had found much to dislike about his father, but he’d inherited many of his most admirable traits. He was a powerful leader and quick learner with a sense of adventure. These characteristics had led to his success as a Mississippi River privateer. His tall frame and good looks didn’t hinder him either. Both his appearance and self-confidence had also captured Fatima Lambert’s attention.
Fatima came with quite the story of her own. With a shortage of white women in Louisiana and laws forbidding interracial marriage, the institution of plaçage enabled her to be a mistress to the very wealthy and incredibly old William Lambert. She’d been merely a teenager when he’d spotted her working his fields and had quickly arranged for her to be a kept woman.
Accustomed to hard labor and the unrelenting heat, she hadn’t objected to being at his beck and call and his bed when he’d insisted. Fortunately for Fatima, she’d only had to suffer through a few sessions of his sexual desires before he’d dropped dead of a heart attack at the ripe age of seventy-eight.
With William being a childless widower and having no other heirs with whom to split his fortune, Fatima had become the proud owner of not only his cotton plantation but his slaves as well. It wasn’t her attractiveness as a mulatto that’d lured Thaddeus to pursue Fatima; it’d been her property and the glorious cotton fields that promised a lifetime of financial security. Once he’d set his sights on her, there was little Fatima could do but concede to his advances. After all, who wouldn’t want a bright, handsome husband to take care of things?
A RABBIT SCURRIED beneath some underbrush, drawing Emmanuel’s attention to the cool, damp breeze and dark clouds promising an impending storm. He walked to the front porch, paused long enough to grab his oil lamp, and made his way inside. Emmanuel hesitated briefly to take in the magnificence of the grand staircase winding its way, like an ornate ribbon, up to the second and third floors. One of his slaves, who’d been trained as a blacksmith, had spent the past few months creating it, and he hadn’t disappointed.
It would surely take Lucretia’s breath away. Aside from a bed and some office necessities, the remaining furnishings would be left to Lucretia’s desires. Yet another of Emmanuel’s wedding gifts to her. Although it was midday, and the many windows gave way to ample light, thunder clouds had begun to darken the home’s interior. Emmanuel made his way up the stairs, down the corridor leading to the west wing, and entered his office. He slid the mantel a smidgen to the left.
This released the mechanism holding the entire faux fireplace intact, enabling him to unlock the steel door leading to an array of complex tunnels, and ultimately, his concealed vault. THIS WAS where the lives of two greedy and shrewd businessmen merged. This was the beginning of a tale older than time, filled with greed, lust, superstition, and murderous secrets they’d both take to their graves.
It was a story meant to be locked away forever…
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