“Trouble cruised into Tupelo Landing at exactly seven minutes past noon on Wednesday, the third of June, flashing a gold badge and driving a Chevy Impala the color of dirt. Almost before the dust had settled, Mr. Jesse turned up dead and life in Tupelo Landing turned upside down.” (1)
From the colorful phrases, “Trouble cruised” and “turned up dead and life turned upside down” to how she delivers details; “flashing a gold badge” and “before the dust had settled” (from the Chevy Impala). Car lovers would know so much about this character, Detective Joe Starr (Get it? Gold badge+ Starr? She added an “r” to the traditional spelling but gives her investigator a name that signifies his profession), by the fact that he drives a Chevy Impala. The name of the town, Tupelo Landing, could only mean it is in the South, North Carolina to be specific. Just like most southern towns with a population of 148 (5), Tupelo Landing seems to be made up of interesting individuals who all have a story to tell. Each has their own issues and shortcomings that would seem to make them standout or be a misfit, but in a small town like this only gives them enough character to fit in perfectly and mesh as a community.
“We got two streets in Tupelo Landing: First Street, where the café sits, and Last, where Lavender lives. We like to say if you’re looking for somebody in Tupelo Landing, you will find them, First and Last.” (42)
Turnage goes on to use all that major character’s names to tell us even more about them. Hardly any of the important relationships in the book are straightforward. For instance, the main character was found in a tree during a flood. Her name is Moses who has an “Upstream Mother” and explains early on, “It’s Biblical. Don’t take this wrong, but the last person to make fun of it got swallowed by the Red Sea.”(15)
We have to wonder until the end of the book if the one who found her (Colonel) is the hero she always believed him to be or a criminal who was/is running from his past. Mo’s best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III (“whose family knows cars” 5) is named after Dale Earnhardt and one of Wilkes County’s favorite sons, Jimmy Johnson. (45)
With so much going on in the plot and written in such a creative, smartly entertaining way, this book has something for everyone. I could go on forever, but let’s just suffice in saying…YOU need to read it!