Roots and Greed Thrive in Haint Blue, a Lowcountry Novel by Carl Linke

By Wendy Pollitzer

Ready for a good summer read that includes passion, a touch of violence, hope and even a local landmark? Haint Blue by Carl Linke is a gripping story about Kip Drummond, a novice businessman who once rescued the Lady’s Island Oyster Factory and later fights corporate greed and Gullah traditions to determine the waterside building’s fate.

Haint Blue, the color on most old Southern porch ceilings, is thought by the Gullah people to ward off evil. Haints (or haunts) are spirits trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Haints cannot cross water. So, in an effort to discourage haints from entering a residence, the Gullah people would dig a pit in the ground, fill it with lime, milk and whatever pigments they could find, stir it all together and paint the mixture around every opening in their homes. The haints were confused by these watery pigments and tricked into thinking they couldn’t enter. The color is used on most Lowcountry porches, even today.

When Kip Drummond meets Madam Ayanda, a tarot reader, he must ultimately reveal a secret he fought distraughtly to conceal in order to get rid of a terrible hex on him. His haint needs to be suppressed so that he can get on with his existence.

But Kip has quite a bit going on in his life. His socialite wife from Charleston would rather eat pluff mud than stay in boring Beaufort one more day. She wants to return to her luxurious, fun lifestyle in the Holy City.

His workers, who have sustained a livelihood at the Oyster Factory for decades, are invigorated by rumors of the undisclosed sale of the property and will now do anything to save the landmark and their jobs. It’s all they’ve ever known and they won’t let it go without a fight.

Three Philadelphia businessmen who want to develop the dilapidated factory into a multi-million dollar waterfront development induced the controversial sale. And they’ll also do whatever needed to close the deal, including bringing in an Italian presence to intimidate the seller.

And Kip is trapped in the middle of it all. During a time in Beaufort when many are caught between ‘doing what’s right’ and ‘doing what’s needed to survive,’ many would agree that Kip Drummond’s inner battle would be a struggle, indeed.

Haint Blue is the local favorite of the summer. You’ll pick up on familiar names and local traditions. And you’ll definitely appreciate descriptions of both the Lowcountry lifestyle and landscape. Linke does a magnificent job with Haint Blue. His style is illustrative, and his words are eloquent, yet straightforward. Pick up your copy today at Bay Street Trading Company on Bay Street. You’ll be glad you did.

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