Tempest On the Outer Banks

Fiction - Mystery - Historical
244 Pages
Reviewed on 07/09/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In Tempest On the Outer Banks by Rodney Barfield, the year is 1968 and Hurricane Gladys is heading towards Croatan Island, just as a lonely ship called The Last Run leaves the shore. The Last Run never returned. Fifteen years later, Kurt Salter arrives from the city to visit his childhood home. After losing both his parents, his father on The Last Run, Croatan Island has become a distant memory. As Kurt recovers from the end of his marriage, he plans the next phase of his life. He discovers the town has changed; with the fishing industry gone the town is almost unrecognizable. Kurt decides to settle on the island and pursue his love of photography and find romance again with Regina, an archaeologist, and a teacher. He discovers the island holds many secrets of the past which are linked to the crew members of The Last Run. As the residents are faced with a new industry tearing apart their beloved island, Regina makes a startling discovery; a survivor of The Last Run is found dead. Unsettled disputes that go back to the Civil War are reignited and Kurt is drawn into the search for answers about what exactly happened that fateful night in 1968.

The descriptive narrative of Tempest On the Outer Banks is absolutely breathtaking. There are many sub-plots to this book that are as strong and compelling as the main storyline. Kurt is such a multi-layered character and I loved watching his journey of self-awareness as he comes to terms with his fears, regrets, and heartbreak. Each of the unique characters leaped from the page. I felt as if I was actually part of the Croatan community. Rodney Barfield has painted the town in such an enticing manner that I feel every reader would want to visit there. As the story progressed, the layers of the plot began to unravel; murder, intrigue, romance, grief as well as gripping historical references. The author writes so poetically that everything in the story comes alive. The ending packed such a powerful punch; what an amazing scene to finish this memorable story.

Jack Magnus

Tempest On the Outer Banks is a historical fiction novel written by Rodney Barfield. Kurt’s years spent in Charlottesville were finally, inevitably, over but what to do now? The barrier islands where he had grown up were calling him, and that siren call was not to be ignored. As he neared Croatan Island where he had grown up, Kurt was saddened to see natural rugged landscapes replaced with big box stores and the irrepressible push and press of tourism. And when he finally got past the ferry trips, home seemed, even more, a victim of time and the elements. Tourism hadn’t reached as far as Croatan Island -- not in any form that meant a revitalization of the island and its communities. The small house Kurt had grown up in and the garden his mother had lavished time and love on were sadly overcome by time, weeds, and neglect. The story of his father’s untimely death was still a mystery complete with the fact that his body had never been recovered, along with those of the other victims, and the reason for their loss was quite never understood.

Tempest On the Outer Banks is a lovely and lyrical homage to the outer banks and the people who have lived there for generations. Kurt Salter’s decision to start his life anew by going home again opens a marvelous and compelling read. I was transfixed as he relives early trips with his dad on his ferry ride home and loved learning about the shaggy horses that still flourished in the marshes and salt flats. As the old-timers and not-so-old timers he meets find something familiar about him, Kurt begins to settle into the man who hadn’t left, or, having left, was now taking back his place on the island. Watching him do so is a gorgeous and utterly entertaining ride. Rodney Barfield’s writing is superbly suited for a book about the barrier islands, and his characters are well-defined and credible. His plot, especially the mystery behind the loss of life in 1968 and the mysterious company trying to buy out the island, kept me happily enthralled and turning pages until I had reached the last one. Tempest On the Outer Banks is most highly recommended.

Deborah Lloyd

When Kurt Salter left Croatan Island to attend college, his goal was never to return to the place he was raised. Croatan Island is part of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and its only industry had been the menhaden plant where his father worked. Menhaden, an inedible fish, was harvested to be used for its oil and paste used for such items as fertilizer, animal food and cosmetics. Fifteen years later, Kurt returned from his home in Charlottesville, Virginia, to rediscover his hometown. He renovated his family home and started a photography business. He also had a new love, Regina. They became part of the town, and they helped to solve the mystery of a body found by Regina during a scuba dive. In the novel, Tempest on the Outer Banks, written by Rod Barfield, a historical rendering of this area, and its people, is portrayed.

There are many fascinating aspects to this book. There are the effects of post-Civil War decisions; the physical and social divide between the black and white communities; the economic challenges coastal towns face; and other struggles. And, there are the personal life challenges that Kurt, Regina, Gertie, Sadie and Sheriff Fulcher, and others face. The character development of each one is both relatable and complex. The large amount of historical information is presented in an interesting, easy to read format, engaging the reader throughout the book. Author Rod Barfield has crafted an intriguing historical, mystery novel entitled Tempest on the Outer Banks. A compelling read!

K.C. Finn

Tempest On The Outer Banks is a work of fiction in the murder mystery genre with plenty of interpersonal and historical drama and was penned by author Rodney Barfield. Suitable to all reader sensitivities thanks to its mild presentation of circumstances and dialogue, this highly engaging and slow-burning mystery tale blends contemporary times with a story that stretches back decades to investigate a saga from the 1960s. The setting is Croatan Island to which Kurt Salter returns after many years on the mainland. He and his new love interest, Regina, are keen to return to peaceful island life, but the body of a waterman found in Pamlico Bay changes their lives and envelops them in a mystery that must be solved if they are ever to return to peace.

Author Rodney Barfield has crafted a wonderful mystery tale that fans of traditional sleuthing and uncovering of clues will certainly enjoy. There are some suspenseful moments and a few tragic tales along the way, but for the most part, the mood of the novel is inquisitive and upbeat as we explore the historical and cultural significance of the island and its people. Kurt and Regina make amiable characters to lead us through the mystery plot, and I particularly applauded the use of dialogue to move discoveries and exposition forward rather than too much heavy text. Overall, Tempest On The Outer Banks is a well-balanced novel of human drama across time and an engaging mystery, and I would definitely recommend it as your next cozy read.