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Eli's Redemption
Paul Attaway, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Five years ago, Eli Atkins, betrayed and abandoned, fled Charleston to avoid the death penalty for a crime he did not commit. Landing in the Bahamas, he sought refuge in a new identity. But angry, lonely, and adrift, he remained aloof, never allowing anyone close enough to hurt him. When fate introduces Eli to ageing Scottish golf pro, Lach McGregor, he finds reason to hope. Lach too is burdened by an incalculable loss, and together, teacher and student, they are each a lifeline for the other. Standing between Eli though and the life he craves, is the secret that forced him out of Charleston and a debt he can never repay to professional criminal, Bernard Lasko. But if Eli is to break free, he must face his past, forgive, and trust, and be willing to risk his life to save another’s.
The follow-up to Blood in the Low Country does not disappoint as another fast-paced, intricately plotted shocker. In the late 1970s high school senior Eli is accused of the rape and murder of his girlfriend Kimberly. Although he’s innocent, Eli is forced to run for his life after a jolting betrayal: his own society-climbing mother, Rose, tells him she’ll testify to his detriment at trial, almost certainly sending him to prison for life or an end strapped, as another character puts it, “to old sparky.” Rose’s reaction to the scandal plays into her deep fears of having a secret exposed, and Eli is forced to escape to the Bahamas, where he then leads a life of intrigue, excitement, and golf among the powerful and the power-hungry.

Even though it’s a sequel, readers can enjoy Eli’s story as a standalone, and even though Attaway’s love for golf shines through the text, non-golfers should not be wary. A treat for mystery fans and thrill lovers, Eli’s story exemplifies its genre, with Attaway’s precisely detailed approach bringing life to each situation and character, as Eli finds himself intertwined with some powerful and dangerous groups using him as a scapegoat for their problems.

Throughout his journey, Eli himself goes from villain to hero and back again, but readers will never lose their sympathy for his plight as he struggles to find his place without anybody to really know or love him, feeling “alone, utterly alone.” It is long, but it moves with swift power, a page-turner that offers an experience more rich in character than that term usually suggests. A satisfying conclusion ties up the loose ends, though some elements might be a touch more clear to readers familiar with the first book. Fans of character-driven thrillers will find themselves eagerly reading for the next piece of the puzzle as Eli faces his fate.

Takeaway: A superior, character-rich thriller about a wrongfully accused teen fleeing ‘70s Charleston for the Bahamas.

Great for fans of: Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half,Shea Ernshaw’s A History of Wild Places, Nancy Jooyoun Kim’s The Last Story of Mina Lee.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-