"'Sunset in Old Savannah" is as charming as the city"
Reviewed by Viki Ferrell
Posted April 4, 2017
Romance Suspense | Suspense | Inspirational Mystery
The private eyes at Price Investigations in Natchez,
Mississippi are on the road again with their latest case.
Michael Preston and Beth Kirby are being sent to Savannah
to investigate a case of a cheating husband. It is a quite
enticing deal. Their expenses are being paid for two weeks,
plus a nice fee for the company's investigation. They've
even been told to spend some time enjoying the city.
They arrive on Tybee Island at the home of Evelyn Doyle.
Evelyn believes her husband of forty years, Lamar, is
seeing someone else. She wants to know if this person is
someone she should really be worried about, or if it is
just a passing fling. Michael and Beth make quick work of
finding out that Lamar is seeing a twenty-something young
lady who works at a coffee shop. Lamar has Bonnie Mulroney
all set up in an expensive apartment in the historic
district of Savannah. They report back to Evelyn and their
work is complete, until Lamar turns up dead on the verandah
of their home a couple days later.
Though the Tybee Island police are handling the case, Beth
just can't keep her nose out of it. When the police begin
to look at Evelyn as their chief suspect, Beth goes into
action to try to clear her of any wrong doing.
SUNSET IN OLD SAVANNAH is the fourth book in Mary Ellis's
the South series. It is an inspirational
romantic suspense story that you will find hard to put
down. The action is nonstop, with the characters making
many trips from Savannah to Tybee Island and back. We're
given a wonderful tour of this beautiful old city as the
characters spend their time both sight-seeing and
investigating. Who says you can't mix business and
pleasure? I just love the playful banter between Michael
and Beth in their dialogue. But is this playful banter
turning into something else?
SUNSET IN OLD SAVANNAH is a
delightful story about forgiveness, putting your faith into
action and weathering the storms of life. Ms. Ellis's
series is a continuation of previous stories, but you'll
have no trouble following the storyline and the characters'
development. Don't miss any of this series!
In Savannah, everyone has something to hide.
Investigative partners and best friends Michael Preston
and Elizabeth Kirby are hired by a wealthy socialite to
do surveillance on her wayward husband. When the husband
turns up dead, the socialite becomes the police’s chief
suspect. Mike and Beth must follow the clues through the
historic town with more secrets than branches of moss-
draped oaks. The duo uncovers a hodgepodge of potential
murderers, including a scheming business partner, a
resentful mistress, and a ne'er-do-well brother. As
praise of their agency gets around, Mike and Beth must
hire investigator Kaitlyn Webb to ease the workload. But
will ghosts of Kate’s past threaten everyone's safety
before a killer can be put behind bars?
If ever there was a perfect time for Beth Kirby to get
out of town it was now. While other parts of the country
were enjoying the first crisp days of fall, the streets
of Natchez, Mississippi could melt the rubber off her
worn-out tires. Her mother’s hints that she should attend
dance lessons with them at the community college had
become insistent demands. After all, lots of eligible men
were taking lessons these days. Rita’s criteria would
include any unmarried male between twenty-five and sixty
who’s still breathing without mechanical assistance. Then
there was the obstruction of justice charge pending
against her in district court. Despite her current
partner’s assurance, the D. A. wouldn’t drop the second
degree felony until her former partner withdrew his
complaint. And nasty Jack was living up to his reputation
by taking his sweet time.
So why do I feel so uneasy? Beth parked in the shade and
headed toward the back entrance of Price Investigations,
only to be intercepted by her partner.
“I see you’re here on time for a change.” Michael Preston
practically levitated from his shoes with excitement.
“I’m always on time, give or take ten minutes.” She
stepped around him on the metal steps. “Could we not act
like sixth-graders on a field trip to Graceland?”
Michael kept pace at her heels. “I thought you couldn’t
wait to get out of Natchez for a while. Are you homesick
“Hardly, but I know better than to get my hopes up too
soon.” Beth pulled open the door and waved him in.
Always the gentlemen, Michael refused to precede her
inside. “You first, Miss Kirby.”
“One of you should come in,” called the office secretary.
Maxine dragged Beth across the threshold by her sleeve.
“Nate’s chomping at the bit to deliver some good news.”
Before she could free her arm from Maxine, Nate hollered
from his office. “That you, Beth and Michael? Grab a cup
of coffee and get in here.”
“Donuts, Miss Maxine?” Michael produced a bag from behind
his back. “Cream-filled with icing and chocolate
sprinkles—your personal favorite.”
Maxine snatched the bag from his fingers. “Be still, my
Beth rolled her eyes as she filled her mug. “Bring me a
donut, too,” she called over her shoulder. Belatedly, she
remembered eating most of Nate’s M&M’s and then
neglecting to replace the bag.
Their boss straightened in his upholstered leather chair,
looking tan and well-rested after his three-week vacation
at the beach. “Make yourselves comfortable. I’m sorry
that yesterday’s staff meeting deteriorated into an
impromptu celebration, complete with mystery guests from
all over the state.”
Beth took the chair closest to the door. “Never apologize
for a party during work hours.”
“It’s not every day we hear a honeymoon was an
unqualified success. A new baby on the way—
congratulations, Nate.” Michael leaned against the
windowsill, two donuts in one hand, coffee in the other.
“He and Isabelle have been married for two years,
Einstein. It’s not like they’re rookies—” Recognizing the
indelicate ground on which she tread, Beth swallowed a
gulp of coffee. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…”
“No problem,” laughed Nate. “The pregnancy came as a
pleasant surprise, but enough about that. While Isabelle
and I were sightseeing, I found a case for both of you.”
“Your wife said you were quite a hero in Mobile.” Beth
reached for Michael’s second donut. “Chased some thug for
three blocks, tackled him, and returned a little old
lady’s purse to her.”
With his face turning a rosy shade, Nate waved off the
praise. “I did what anyone would have done.”
“I don’t think so. Most bad guys pack loaded guns these
days.” Beth sucked the cream from the donut’s center.
“Fortunately, this particular miscreant carried no weapon
to ruin my honeymoon or the other couple’s anniversary
celebration. The woman’s husband offered me a reward, but
I refused. Instead, I gave them some of our business
cards to pass out when they got home, in case their
friends need a good P.I.”
“Is Mobile anywhere near Talladega?” asked Michael. “I’d
love to see a Nascar race.”
“It’s not, and the case isn’t in Mobile.” Nate took a
tablet from his briefcase. “The couple I helped, Mr. and
Mrs. Baer, had been vacationing in Mobile, but they live
on the East Coast in Savannah. Thanks to the Baers
talking up our talents, you two are going to a charming
city steeped in history and home of the famous Oglethorpe
“Like in Midnight in the Garden in Good and Evil?” asked
Mike. “I read that book years ago. A couple of scenes
kept me up all night.”
Beth swiveled to face her partner. “That book was
fiction. Let’s stick to reality. What kind of case?” she
asked, turning back to Nate.
“Surveillance. A friend of Mrs. Baer hired our agency to
check up on her husband. Take some pictures; discern the
facts, but we are not to intervene. You’ll create a file
to present to her. What she does with it is her own
Uggh,” moaned Beth. “Spying on somebody’s spouse? Sounds
like a job for Sleaze Incorporated.”
Nate’s jaw twitched, while he shifted in the chair. “The
last time I checked, Miss Kirby, my name’s on the
paychecks around here. Which means we need to generate
cash flow so those aforementioned paychecks don’t
“She didn’t mean anything by that,” said Michael. “Beth
just talks without thinking. Could you throw me the donut
bag, Miss Maxine?”
Beth would love to put her partner in his place, but
unfortunately, Michael was right. “Sorry, Nate, spending
time in jail affected my judgement.”
“According to my sources, we were incarcerated for less
than twenty-four hours. Your judgement must have been
faulty long before that.” Nate reached for another donut.
“What you need—what you both need—is a vacation. This new
client has offered a hefty fee, plus a generous per diem
for expenses. I would go myself, but Isabelle is eager to
sleep in her own bed. I heard that Savannah is a lovely
city with plenty to see and do, so tie up loose ends here
within the next few days. I’ll handle anything that comes
up while you’re gone.”
Michael scratched his scalp. “I’m confused. Are you
giving us a free trip or a case to work?”
“It will be both. Plan to be gone a week to ten days, but
the case shouldn’t take longer than a few days. With the
generous per diem, you can stay someplace nice and enjoy
some R&R with all expenses paid.”
Beth drained the last of her coffee. “It takes two PI’s
to snap grainy photos of a philandering husband?”
The legs of Nate’s chair hit the floor with a bang.
“First of all, those photos had better not be grainy.
Secondly, we don’t know that anybody is philandering. And
if this assignment is beneath your dignity, you can
always collect unemployment until something that meets
your standards rolls in. What’s the matter with you? I
told you, the trip will be a mini-vacation since the work
shouldn’t take more than a few days.”
From the corner of her eye, Beth caught Michael shaking
his head. How on earth could she admit the truth—that she
hated spying on people who might be stepping out? “My
mother has been asking that question for years.” Beth
rose to her feet. “I would love to go to Savannah.
Michael and I will do a great job. Our new client will be
pleased-as-punch when we leave.”
“That’s better.” Nate pushed his notes across the desk.
“Here’s the information you’ll need. Keep in touch. Call
me at least every other day.”
“Are we driving or flying?”
“Your choice—fly and rent a car in Savannah or drive one
“Fly,” said Michael.
“We’ll drive separately,” she said simultaneously.
When the partners turned to face each other, Beth was
quicker with an explanation. “Two cars will allow some
personal free time. What if I want to go shopping while
you search for the perfect work-out gym?”
“Shopping for what—Cheetos and Diet Coke?” Michael
quipped. “I’ve never known you to shop, Kirby.”
Nate wrote out a check and tore it from the pad. “This is
part of the advance. Work out the details on your own and
remember to save receipts. I’ll tell Mrs. Evelyn Doyle
you’ll be there in a few days to introduce yourselves and
outline the services that we’ll provide.” Nate’s forehead
furrowed into deep creases. “Tell me now if this is a bad
idea. If you two can’t play nice, I’ll send one of you on
assignment while the other takes time off.”
Michael shook his head like a balky mule. “We got along
fine when you were gone. Beth and I will sort out any
concerns she might have.”
She glanced sideways to make sure Michael hadn’t been
replaced by a politician on the campaign trail.
Considering she would be the one taking time off, Beth
smiled as widely as her lips allowed. “Don’t you worry
‘bout us. We’ll do the agency proud without unnecessary
gunplay or public embarrassment.”
“Fine, when can you leave for Savannah?”
“I could be ready tomorrow.” Michael answered without
“We still have paperwork for the last case. Then there’s
the small matter of criminal charges still pending
against me. I’d hate to flee across state lines as a
fugitive. Plus my girlfriend’s wedding is on Saturday. I
don’t want to miss it.”
“Fine, but plan to leave on Sunday. I’ll let Mrs. Doyle
know and call Chief McNeil and the Adams County District
Attorney to make sure all charges have been dropped. “Now
get out of here.” Nate pointed at the door. “I don’t want
my crack detectives to hear me begging and pleading.”
“Thanks, I owe you one.” Beth picked up the notebook.
“No, Miss Kirby. You owe me one hundred fifty-seven.” He
motioned for his door to be closed.
On their way out Maxine jumped to her feet as Michael
passed her desk. “Let me know if I can print directions
or set up hotel reservations.”
Amazing what donuts on a regular basis can do around the
office, thought Beth.
“You’re a gem, but my new car has state-of-the-art GPS.”
“If Michael tries to make a wrong turn, the car ignores
him and does what’s right.” Beth winked at her.
The fifty-something secretary’s eyes grew round. “Is that
“She’s pulling your leg, Miss Maxine. Hold down the fort
while Beth and I do the agency proud.” Michael opened the
door and waved Beth through like a trained dog.
“Don’t take any wooden nickels,” Beth said to Maxine.
“What’s the matter with you?” Michael asked the moment
the door closed behind them. “I thought you would be
eager to get out of Natchez, away from Detective Lejeune.
Now you’ve got a week to let things cool down.”
“I am eager, but I don’t like taking photos of someone
cheating on their wife.” Beth kept walking until they
reached the street.
“You didn’t do anything wrong. You need to get over this…
hang-up you have.”
“You’re right. I was expecting…a better case, that’s
all.” Beth lifted her hair off her neck. Only two minutes
without air conditioning and it felt hot and heavy
against her skin.
“A case is a case. You want to get something to eat?”
Michael glanced at his watch, doubtlessly an expensive
gift from his parents.
“Thanks, but I need to get my oil changed and stop at the
drug store. Then I must figure out what to wear to meet
some rich, society lady.”
“Pack some casual clothes too, since we’ll have free
time. Is there a Six Flags close to Savannah? I haven’t
been on a roller coaster in ages.” Michael rubbed his
Beth laughed in spite of herself. “Why am I not surprised
you love amusement parks? Okay, it there’s an amusement
park we’ll go. But you better not throw up on my shoes.”
“Not this trained professional.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
“Are you sure we need two cars in Savannah? Parking could
be expensive and hard to find. The more we economize the
more per diem we’ll have for the fun stuff.”
Beth pondered his logic. Although the thought of crossing
three states with a new partner made her teeth ache,
Michael was right about parking in historic places.
During her three visits to New Orleans’ French Quarter,
she received two tickets and had her car towed to the
“You win. Pick me up at nine on Sunday and not a minute
before. I’ll need that long to pry myself loose from my
parents. Whoever said, ‘you can never go home again’ must
have been talking about adult children.”
“Your parents are great! I’m even getting used to Rita’s
“Let’s switch places for a month. I’d happily live above
a law office across the street from Blues and Biscuits.
Live music and good food—what else does a girl need?”
Michael started his car with the press of button. “What
does your gut say about our new client? Does Mrs. Doyle
want us to lay groundwork for a lucrative divorce
Beth focused on a freighter on the river. “Maybe she just
wants to know what’s going on.”
“Nobody pays a hefty advance unless they’re fairly
certain about the outcome. It’s really a shame, but for
us, it’s just another day in the exciting life of a P.I.”
“Yep, that’s us, all right. Pick me up on Sunday, and
save room in your car for my stuff. I’m not holding my
suitcase on my lap for four states.”
“Three states—Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.” Michael
ticked off the names on his fingers.
“Four, what about South Carolina?”
“You do realize Savannah is in Georgia.”
“Of course, I do,” she lied. “Just save me some room.”
Beth jumped into her car and drove away, feeling cranky
for no particular reason. Yesterday, she told their boss
she could no longer work in Natchez. Today, she was
thumbing her nose at an expense paid trip to a place she
always wanted to visit.
Maybe there is something wrong with me.
On the drive to the mediocre section of town, Beth tried
to remember any head traumas suffered over the years. Yet
every previous bicycling, white water rafting, or rock
climbing incident had injured an arm or leg, not her
cranial capacity. Part of the problem was Michael
Preston. Although his skills as a P.I. had improved
tremendously, there was just something claustrophobic
about him, as though personal space meant your position
in the grocery store line.
Beth walked into the kitchen of the small bungalow where
she’d been born and found her parents at the table,
“Home so soon?”
“Any word about your new case?”
“Are you ready for lunch?”
As her parents hurled questions at a furious pace, Beth
summarized the developments at Price Investigation in a
few concise sentences. Then silence reigned as Rita Kirby
digested the information and Stan Kirby rubbed his jaw
“Nate wants you to drive across country with a handsome
young man and spend the next ten days in close
proximity?” asked Rita. “He sees nothing amiss with that
Beth smiled, both at her mother’s thought process and her
use of the word amiss. “Nate needs us in Savannah for a
case, but if you’d like to call the folks at Inside
Edition, I want a cut of the action.”
Rita clucked her tongue. “Make all the jokes you want,
missy, but mark my words. Your new partner might have
other ideas in mind. Hopefully, Mr. Price won’t put you
in the same hotel room.” Rita’s face flushed from the
“Of course not.” Beth pulled a Coke from the fridge.
“Don’t you worry; I’ll have my guard up whenever Michael
steps within ten feet.”
“That’s my girl!” said Stan. “We raised you right.”
“Yes, you did.” Beth kissed her mother’s forehead and
fled up the steps before she exploded. She loved her
parents and didn’t want to argue, but moving back home
hadn’t been easy. With any luck, Mrs. Doyle would keep
them busy until Christmas, tracking down missing dogs or
spying on her neighbors.
She didn’t need to worry about getting too close to
someone at work again.
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