Myrtle Beach Reviews:
Reviewed by: Robert Khayat.
I ran into Robert Khayat, a friend and former colleague, not too long ago
at the local Kroger store here in Oxford, Mississippi. He and I were on
the same mission—doing the grocery shopping for our wives.
The following facts only touch at the extensive achievements of Dr.
Khayat. He retired from Ole Miss a couple of years ago following a
distinguished career as a member of the University of Mississippi Law
School faculty and eventually as Dean of the Law School and finally as
Chancellor of the University of Mississippi. Not only an accomplished
academician and talented administrator, Chancellor Khayat is further known
for his athletic ability as a former All American Ole Miss Rebel football
player and later as an outstanding place kicker in professional football.
In addition to his contributions to higher education, Dr. Khayat served as
an executive with the NCAA, before returning to academia.
When he learned I had written Myrtle Beach, he graciously offered
the following comments. These remarks mean much to me, especially since
they come from a friend.
Reviewed by: Norm Goldman.
"It is the summer of 2004, Chief Master Sergeant Lucas Mackley sits in a
United States Veterans Retirement Facility in Gulfport, Mississippi. He is
seemingly unaware of his surroundings, as he daydreams about painful
events he experienced many years ago, when he was an enlisted airman in
the US Air Force stationed in Myrtle Beach. These episodes were so
distressing that for fifty years he kept them harnessed in his memory, not
sharing it with anyone, that is, until he met Nurse Marty Judson, whom he
calls Em. She reminds him of his true lost love, a teenager named Emily,
and due to this likeness, Nurse Judson is successful in prompting Lucas to
recount these agonizing events. Very quickly, Luther Knight, author of
Myrtle Beach, pulls us into a compelling and exciting read, involving
love, human destiny, deceit, betrayal, untrustworthy friends, monstrous
murders, and the injustices of the world.
unfolding drama focuses on three airmen, Lucas Mackley and his two buddies
Charles Kesterman, and JJ Phelps, who first converge at the Keesler Air
Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. Mackley is from Arkansas, and pursuant
to a challenge made by one of his friends, enlisted in the Air Force at
the age of nineteen. Kesterman grew up in Mississippi, the elder of two
sons of a divorced mother. When Kesterman was seven or eight his mother
remarried a man who would abuse her. The combination of losing his father
and the cruelty of his stepfather probably was the cause of his constantly
getting into trouble. It also resulted in his cockiness, particularly when
it came to women. Phelps had grown up in Missouri, and after graduating
high school, he had plans to become an electrical engineer. Unfortunately,
his plans and life were dramatically changed when he almost killed a
professor who insulted his intelligence. As a result, he was forced to
abandon his plans and decided to join the Air Force.
threesome were stationed at Keesler, chasing women and drinking, the body
of a forty-year old woman was discovered in the waters off the Gulf of
Mexico. The first presumption was that she had committed suicide. It was
also here where the three friends came in contact with a bestial Staff
Sergeant Wilbert Burnham Webber, who delighted in making life miserable
for anyone that crossed his path. On an early Sunday morning in March
1951, Webber's bloodied body was discovered. He was the recipient of a
savage beating leaving very little clues as to who was the culprit. And
the murder occurred on the night just before the three airmen were shipped
out to Shaw AFB in South Carolina. It was at Shaw where they would help
organize a team capable of operating along the South Carolina coast
monitoring air traffic while training for eventual overseas duty.
noteworthy is that wherever the three airmen were assigned, death always
seemed to follow. In all, there were five murders and one fatal accident,
and somehow the trio were always at a reasonable distance from the scenes
of these deaths. Moreover, they also appeared to have known some of the
murder victims. Among the tragedies was the accident of a tobacco farmer
killed in a crash caused by one of the airmen from their base. Shortly
thereafter, the deceased's wife took to drinking, and one day was found
viciously murdered. Another was the case of two teenagers brutally beaten
and killed in a nearby town not far from where the buddies were stationed.
All of the the murder crimes seemed to follow the same vicious pattern
pointing to the workings of a deranged person. However, the civilian and
military law authorities were at a loss as to who committed these sadistic
killings, although they did have their suspicions that perhaps a
connection existed involving one of more of the trio and these perplexing
murders. Proving it was another matter, as the evidence was flimsy and
circumstantial. As for Chief Master Sergeant Lucas Mackley, when he did
figure out what he became involved in, he realized the far reaching
ramifications it would have on his future life.
does a masterful job in keeping the intensity of the plot throughout this
harrowing yarn. The suspense of the characters' interactions with one
another, the menace of Kesterman's unpredictable behavior, the secrets
lurking in the past, and the obscure strings that vaguely connect the
murders together all contribute to make this debut novel a great read.
There is certainly never a dull moment, serving just the right balance of
insidious malevolence and innocence."
Reviewed by: Norm Goldman –
Norm Goldman, B.A. LL.L, is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures. He is
also a top 500 Amazon reviewer.
Norm Goldman can
also be accessed at
Myrtle Beach Author: Luther Knight;
Publisher: American Book Publishing.
Reviewed by: Kelly Davis.
"Anyone who has ever enjoyed the incredible coastline in and around
Myrtle Beach, SC will adore Myrtle Beach by Luther Knight. Author Knight
obviously knows this small section of the country well – not only does he
perfectly describe the panorama and oppressive humidity of the area, he
captures dead-on the unique dialect and cadence of Low Country locals.
As much as Knight knows his stuff concerning all things Low Country, he
is obviously even more familiar with life in the United States Air Force.
Myrtle Beach’s main character is Lucas Mackley, who enlisted in the Air
Force on January 19, 1950 at the young age of 19. When Mackley enlisted,
he may have expected to be deployed to Korea but he certainly did not
anticipate that he would soon be the main suspect in a string of grisly
murders that seem to be following him!
That the reader is afforded a front-row seat to these murders is not
particularly unique in a novel of this type but what is unique is how
Knight fleshes out these characters so completely that by the time they
are killed you may wonder how their loved ones would have reacted.
(Definitely not my standard response when reading a thriller!) In fact, my
favorite thing about Myrtle Beach is that Knight took obvious time and
attention to detailing the lives of every single one of his characters,
including those that get but one page of attention. I feel like I know the
secondary characters including Staff Sergeant Wilbert Webber, a cruel
commander, Mattie Lou Simpson, who is pushing 40 and reeks of booze and
cigarettes as even as she seeks comfort in the arms of strange men, Mert
and Leona, two of the ugliest barmaids you’ll ever meet, and Roscoe and
Sarah Mooreland, both flawed people in differing ways but made for each
We are with young Mackley with his drunken
comrades in a local bar, where you can almost hear the slurred speech and
smell the liquor-soaked carpet. We feel his unease as he realizes the
string of murders is following him and he suspects that the killer may be
someone close to him. We feel his heart racing as he is accused of the
murders and has to run from the APs and South Carolina State Troopers even
as they are on his tail by no more than one car length. The sweat on his
back as he realizes he is being pursued by police hounds.
Lucas stumbled from the woods into the
partially water-filled ditch along Highway 17 and paused, orienting
himself. Crossing the road, he raced along a small field to the west, his
legs protesting each crucial stride…With terror surging through his body,
he sprinted toward the waterway, a marathoner at the finish line…Looking over his shoulder, he
saw the dogs loping across the road, their bodies silhouetted by the
headlights of an approaching automobile and their shadows exaggerated in
the glaring lights…
Will Mackley escape successfully? Will the real killer be found? Knight
takes his readers on a journey of not just a fugitive but takes us to a
simpler time and place. If you are at all interested in the Low Country,
the military, or just great characters in a great mystery – Myrtle Beach
by Luther Knight is a must read for you!"
Reviewed by: Kelly Davis
Myrtle Beach Author: Luther Knight;
Publisher: American Book Publishing.
Myrtle Beach Comments:
Luther Knight’s third novel, Myrtle Beach, tells the story of Lucas
Mackley, J.J. Phelps, and Charlie Kesterman, three airmen in the 1950s
South Carolina. After a series of mysterious murders, local law
enforcement suspects that one of the three is a brutal serial killer…but
which one? Knight’s newest novel is a fast-paced whodunit that will
satisfy the most discerning mystery aficionado. Knight writes with a keen
sense of place and mood, drawing extensively upon his southern roots. His
characters are so warm that you feel the he must have personally known
each one. This story moves faster than a flathead Chevy on a South
Glenn Parsons, author of Sharks, Skates, and Rays of
the Gulf of Mexico.
by Luther Knight, shares the grit of the people and places during the
times of the ‘50s. The story is saturated with suspense, as you experience
enlisted life in our military. I enthusiastically recommend it for a great
Gerald Inmon, author of Yocona Puff Adder.
Luther Knight’s mystery novels are known for engaging and astonishing his
readers. Myrtle Beach is loaded with extraordinary twists and
turns. It piques my curiosity as it spiraled to a heartfelt conclusion.
Definitely a must read for those that enjoy suspenseful reality in fiction
Beverly Slater, private investigator/author.
Luther Knight’s latest page-turner is the story of a series of chilling
murders that follow a trio of young Air Force volunteers in the Korean
Police Action era. They meet at the radar training facility at Keesler AFB
in Biloxi, Mississippi, and finally part their separate ways during a tour
of duty at the abandoned WWII air force base near Myrtle Beach, South
Carolina. Knight not only delivers a compelling chronicle of mayhem, he
also describes the vistas of his story in vivid and striking detail.
Knight tells a good story.
S.Gale Denley, Emeritus Professor of
Journalism, University of Mississippi, Publisher of The Calhoun County
Journal, Bruce, MS, and Syndicated Columnist.
cunning sociopath serial killer is on a rampage around the once peaceful
ocean resort town of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His crimes are heinous;
beyond just killing, the bodies are almost always mutilated. There are few
clues, just desperate hunches by local law officers. Then military
investigators from nearby Shaw Air Force Base link an unsolved murder of a
senior NCO over a year before at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, to
three young airmen now assigned to a radar site near Myrtle Beach. One of
these, Lucas Mackley, panics when told he is about to be arrested and
flees with his pregnant girlfriend. The climatic build-up to this truly
gut-clutching chase that ultimately reveals the killer’s identity is once
again told with those entertaining story-telling twists and turns Luther
Knight is so well known for in his novels.
Franklin D. Rast, author of
Don’s Nam, Ghosts in the Wire, Bayou Samurai.
Luther Knight is the kind of storyteller who you’d welcome beside you at
the bar. Myrtle Beach reads with an authentic voice, like a tale
that Knight really lived, and that makes it a real pleasure taking the
trip with him.
Ace Atkins, author of Wicked City, White Shadow, Dirty
South, Dark End of the Street, Leavin’ Trunk Blues Crossroad Blues,
and Devil’s Garden.
Knight is a natural storyteller. Truly awesome and amazing. This book kept
me reading into the wee hours of the night. This mystery novel is not one
that I will forget soon.
Freda A. Hartness, Friends of the Mississippi