Review of The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green @CeladonBooks

I couldn’t put down this hugely satisfying mystery!

Blurb: Savannah may appear to be “some town out of a fable,” with its vine flowers, turreted mansions, and ghost tours that romanticize the city’s history. But look deeper and you’ll uncover secrets, past and present, that tell a more sinister tale. It’s the story at the heart of George Dawes Green’s chilling new novel, The Kingdoms of Savannah.

It begins quietly on a balmy Southern night as some locals gather at Bo Peep’s, one of the town’s favorite watering holes. Within an hour, however, a man will be murdered and his companion will be “disappeared.” An unlikely detective, Morgana Musgrove, doyenne of Savannah society, is called upon to unravel the mystery of these crimes. Morgana is an imperious, demanding, and conniving woman, whose four grown children are weary of her schemes. But one by one she inveigles them into helping with her investigation, and soon the family uncovers some terrifying truths―truths that will rock Savannah’s power structure to its core.

Moving from the homeless encampments that ring the city to the stately homes of Savannah’s elite, Green’s novel brilliantly depicts the underbelly of a city with a dark history and the strangely mesmerizing dysfunction of a complex family.

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One of the great things about being a book blogger, and let me assure you that there are many, is that sometimes a publisher will send you an email on Friday that says, here’s a book for you to read this weekend and sometimes that book will be something like The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green that just intrigued me so much that I didn’t want to put it down. So, thank you, Celadon for that email.

The Kingdoms of Savannah begins with the introduction of Luke Kitchens and Stony, both are homeless but do scrape up dollars to have drinks at their favorite bar, Bo Peeps, where Jaq is bartender. Jaq is a granddaughter of Morgana Musgrove, a complicated woman of Savannah’s upper crust. When tragedy strikes, both Jaq and her grandmother begin investigating.

So many characters in this book are dual entities, how they are represented and how they really are. Take Morgana, for instance, who has moved through three periods, country girl in the big city, disappointed drunken rich mother and then to wise grandmother, still manipulative, but malleable wanting to do the right things by the family she loves. In mysteries, this depth of character keeps a reader on their toes. This also integrates with the twists and turns.

Green has done a lot of research which lends itself to creating an atmospheric story. I was endlessly fascinated by the Savannah he presented or created, all of the background; the different factions; the sad, frequently appalling, history interwoven; the fiction of ghost tours that ignores how the stories actually happened in order to display something more melodramatic, sensational.

At 304 pages, the novel moves along quickly, almost too quickly for me. I would have happily read another couple hundred. The dysfunctional Musgrove family were riveting and to be showcased in one mystery story didn’t seem quite enough. I really wanted more.

Thankfully, The Kingdoms of Savannah has been an introduction to George Dawes Green whose back titles I shall now seek out and hope that they’re as satisfying as this one.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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