Where the River Runs Deep

A Novel

Distraught over her partner’s betrayal, poet Maria Pell, no stranger to paranormal phenomena, flees to Cherapee, a small coastal town in North Carolina, to participate in a writers’ retreat. She brings verses written by a deceased local poet, intending to find the woman who inspired them. Her writer friend, Bo Bennett has also signed on to teach at the retreat. Researching a history of the Creighton family, he discovers someone is killing descendants of Old Peter Creighton, a seventeenth century slave-owner. Are the murders retribution for past sins or do they provide cover for something sinister that’s more immediate? Racial tensions seethe in the barrier island community where river mists and blind reverence for old traditions hide secrets of the living and the dead. The poems and Bo’s findings solve old mysteries and forever change the way in which people regard themselves and each other in Cherapee County.


Where the River Runs Deep: “Singing. An out-of-tune piano. The houseboat passed by…Surreal. An old hymn offering the promise of heaven. The saved gliding by on an ark. Two sinners locked in an embrace…”

Praise for Where the River Runs Deep

“A good tale laced with murder, race relations, romance, treachery and everything you’d want in fewer than 200 pages. After reading her other works it is clear the author has a gift for multi-generational dynamics. Nothing is out of bounds here. Race relations is tackled head on. The elegant prose provides a peek behind the curtain into the southern mindset. Pick this up – you won’t regret it.”

“There is a great deal to like about this book, but the author’s articulate and expressive writing style was by far my favorite element. Told in the first person perspective, the author quickly creates an emotional connection between Maria, the narrator, and the reader. Although there are a few mysteries surrounding the murder of various subjects, the main mystery of this story involves Cherapee and its unpleasant history. The murder mysteries supplement the mystery involving Cherokee, making for a complex and dramatic climax. Where the River Runs Deep proved to be engaging, emotional and thought provoking. My only complaint is that I wish I could have spent more time with Maria and her poetic narrative.”

“Where the River Runs Deep is many things. Lynne Handy has packed a steamer trunk of action and intrigue into this slim volume, which is equal parts mystery, romance, thriller and parable. She has spun quite a yarn, stout twine interspersed with gossamer. The lively adventures of Maria Pell in the North Carolina backwater are punctuated by poetry that is sometimes achingly lovely and often just plain ingenious. The story is a study in contrasts – paranormal activity juxtaposed with humans at their earthiest, academic pursuits playing out alongside ignorance and superstition, history explored with the help of a GPS and a laptop. It is also a story of racial conflict and the righting of ancient wrongs. It is ultimately a testament to the human spirit and its ability to survive the unimaginable with grace and valor. We learn to respect the resilient and intrepid Maria, and the ending leaves us wishing we could travel with her on the next leg of what is bound to be another grand adventure.”