Fairway to Heaven
There’s a lot to love about Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Whenever my spring golf trip buddies and I go there, a relaxing feeling comes over me as we drive along Midland Road.
The Village, the Pinehurst Resort, and the other golf courses in the area never fail to create an impression of genteel golfing elegance.
When Roberta Isleib decided to place the action in her newest Cassie Burdette mystery novel in and around the famous golfing destination, I wondered how she would deal with the contrast between the normally bucolic surroundings and the tumultuous events that often swirl around the young LPGA heroine.
As one might expect, Isleib handled it very well.
The fourth book in the series combines several stressful events in Burdette’s life. She’s a reluctant maid of honor for a girlfriend whose fiancé is on the men’s Tour. She’s still trying to figure out if her own relationship with PGA pro Mike Callahan is going anywhere, or whether there are promising signs from someone else.
As if a major society wedding wasn’t enough fun for a long weekend, Burdette is also scheduled to play in a three-Tour Silly Season event at Pinehurst No. 2.
As anyone who’s played a Donald Ross course can tell you, the greens are deceptively shaped. A shot that’s off by a mere fraction won’t stay put. When your playing partners are your father, whose abandonment of Cassie and the rest of his first family left some deep scars, and your boyfriend, whose commitment seems to veer as much as his drives off the tee, the pressure can only build up from there.
Burdette discovers that she must also be careful to avoid at least two other kinds of shots, either type of which could prove deadly. These are murder mysteries, after all, so the occasional body or two will show up at inconvenient moments.
One of the pitfalls facing all of us is our tendency to repeat our mistakes instead of learning from them. Cassie has shown more than her share of this talent for continuing self-inflicted trouble in her past escapades, but there are some promising signs of improvement during this episode.
Isleib has created a character that readers can really like and care about, and I found myself pulling for Cassie to continue on the path to maturity.
It’s a rock-strewn path, but Cassie also discovers that some of her friends and acquaintances are on a similar journey. For example, the bride-to-be has a significant over-investment in the trappings of a full-scale traditional wedding, complete with opportunities for significant embarrassment for some of its participants.
The story of the bridal shower alone should be enough for the male readers to be very glad they don’t attend them, and should cause some rueful laughs of recognition among the women reading this book.
Another bridesmaid also seems to be just a little too interested in Mike Callahan for Cassie’s comfort, and signs point to a possible confrontation.
In the meantime, however, the bride’s family has to find a way to deal with a major crisis that comes up just as the wedding events are underway. It forms the major plot line for the story, and brings Cassie into contact not only with the local authorities, but with some ill-tempered folks who decide that her stay in Pinehurst should be cut well short.
Readers who live or have visited the Pinehurst area should have a lot of fun reading Fairway to Heaven. The action shifts around to several different spots in the little village which actually exist. My own memories of the area helped enhance the mental imagery that Isleib created in her descriptions, and I doubt I’ll be alone in that experience.
The finish is a bit abrupt, but logically satisfactory nonetheless. There are also some additional indicators that Cassie’s growing maturity will help her handle the next adventure in this fun mystery series.
I look forward to reading it.
Review Date: February 20, 2005