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Article first published as Book Review: Stung! A Sam McClellan Tale by Laura Wharton on Blogcritics.

June 7, 2016

Stung!
A Sam McClellan Tale
Laura Wharton
Broad Creek Press (2016)
ISBN: 978-0-9904662-6-0 (Print)
978-0-9904662-7-7 (e-book)

New Thriller Set in ‘the South’s Prettiest Little Town’ Explosive for Sam McClellan

Stung! A Sam McClellan Tale by Laura WhartonStung!, the latest thriller by mystery author Laura Wharton, continues the Sam McClellan series, but the title does not refer to a sting operation that former police detective McClellan is involved in. No, Sam is off sailing when he stops to visit his aunt in the coastal tourist town of Edenton, North Carolina, only to find out she’s wanted for murder—at least that’s how many of Edenton’s residents are seeing it. Aunt Lou’s next-door longtime boyfriend was recently found dead, and it’s believed he was stung to death by bees from Aunt Lou’s beehives. Aunt Lou, despite having had a recent fight with her boyfriend Harvey, denies any guilt in the matter, and Sam believes her, so he decides to stay in town to help clear his aunt’s name.

Aunt Lou is under house arrest until the investigation comes to its conclusion. Fortunately, a friendly cop, James Bradley, who just happens to love her cooking, has been assigned to keep an eye on her. When James finds out Sam is also a cop, he invites him to help with the investigation. Score one for Aunt Lou.
Sam is soon hot on the trail of several suspects and a string of conflicting evidence. He talks to Harvey’s lawyer, he sneaks into Harvey’s house to investigate, and he makes small talk with the locals, some of whom decide to dislike him based on his association with his aunt. One young woman, Monica, however, appears interested in getting to know him better, but perhaps for reasons beyond his personal charm.

Of course, Sam already has a budding relationship with his friend Molly, who appeared in Deceived, the first book in the series. Will Sam be able to keep his hands to himself when Monica begins hitting on him? Is Molly even interested in him? They didn’t part on the best of terms. Sam decides to find out by asking her to come up to Edenton to help him fix his boat, but he doesn’t tell her she’s about to get herself involved in yet another dangerous situation—the last time, she nearly lost her life and she did lose her boat. Perhaps being involved with Sam McClellan is more than Molly wants to deal with.

Readers will adore Aunt Lou, find Edenton full of delightfully quirky characters, love to hate the villain who is revealed at the end, and enjoy several endearing moments offset by some explosive revelations before the story comes to its satisfying conclusion.

Reading Stung! is like a bee sting that won’t go away—you’re left aching to read more about these characters. Fortunately, Wharton is busy working on the third book in the series, Hacked. Wharton has also written several other mysteries and thrillers, including In Lily’s Garden, Leaving Lukens, and the Mystery at the Lake House series for children.

For more information about Laura Wharton and Stung!, visit www.LauraWhartonBooks.com.

— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and award-winning author of The Children of Arthur series

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