Laura Elizabeth’s first cozy mystery, ‘All Is Now Lost,’ finds hope and home on a famous little island in the Atlantic

This roadway is known as “Avenue of the Oaks” and is lined with some of Daufuskie Island’s famous moss-draped live oaks. Photo by Laura Elizabeth. (For more images of this island, click on this photo to visit Laura’s website:


Editor of ReadTheSpirit magazine

The island is home.

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

Those four words capture the feeling of the new cozy mystery series Laura Elizabeth is launching about the people who live on a little island in the Atlantic. The adventures begin with Book 1: All Is Now Lost, which now is available for pre-order from Amazon.

This series’ fictional island is a fairly small speck off the coast of South Carolina’s southern tip, based on historic Daufuskie Island. Laura has renamed the place Mongin Island, after the name of an actual early settler, to distinguish her characters’ adventures on the island as distinct from the real Daufuskie. Since she is a part-time island resident and wants to encourage visits to her beloved island, that fictionalized name, Mongin, is a signal readers that they need not fear murderers on the very real—and peaceful—Daufuskie.

“I tell people that, just as our family discovered when we first visited Daufuskie, this is not a quick-and-easy place to vacation,” she said this week in an author interview. “Enjoying Daufuskie takes planning and what might seem like real inconveniences to some people, depending on what they’re expecting. This isn’t like going on a vacation to a Hilton resort and having five terrific restaurants to choose from each night. Getting to Daufuskie, spending time there and enjoying the experience takes some planning.”

“So where should prospective visitors start?” I asked Laura.

“I suggest that anyone wanting to visit Daufuskie start at one of these websites: or there’s,” she said.

Although it takes some effort to reach Daufuskie and spend time there, the island is well worth the effort—as our own publisher John Hile attested after he visited Daufuskie with Laura this spring. “It’s an amazing place,” he said and he came home with his own gorgeous photographs that our online magazine will share in coming months of coverage.

Daufuskie has been a haven for individuals and families for centuries from Native Americans who enjoyed the island’s relatively safe location and rich oyster beds—to former slaves with a rich Gullah culture who stayed on the island after the Civil War. At various times, the tiny islands out-sized reputation spread around the world because of its premium variety of sea-island cotton, its especially delicious oysters and for Pat Conroy’s novel, The Water Is Wide.

Laura Elizabeth and her family were among the countless men, women and children who fell in love with this island and sensed that this was a new home.

Among the Daufuskie friends encouraging Laura’s work is the Daufuskie Rental Group, which has its own vacation-oriented website. The team behind the Rental Group just agreed to give a copy of Laura’s book to some of the island visitors this summer. Those lucky visitors are getting the book even before its official launch date in September.

“And I’m already hearing from people on the island as those first books are going out. It’s really fun to hear some of their reactions,” Laura said.

What’s Cozy about a Cozy?


In one word, that’s the whole point of cozy mysteries, a very popular genre that is called cozy for a number of reasons: the small world created in each novel generally is a family, a neighborhood or a small town—so the setting is “cozy” (and often the suspense turns on that isolation)—and the readers fall in love with the characters—because the “regulars” feel like a cozy community.

Wikipedia’s description of the genre neatly describes what readers will find between the covers of Laura’s first book:

The cozy mystery usually takes place in a town, village or other community that is small enough to make it believable that all the principal characters know each other. The amateur detective is usually a well-liked individual who is able to get the community members to talk freely about each other. There is usually at least one very knowledgeable and reliable character in the book who is intimately familiar with the personal history and interrelationships of everyone in the town and who helps the amateur detective solve the case.

Laura’s “amateur detective” is Carr Jepson, who arrives on Mongin Island, ready to start the next chapter of her life. She’s had a successful career in business, so it is easy for her to launch a new business on the island: the Books & Brew bookstore. The “knowledgeable and reliable” friend is called Barb in the novel. In Laura’s ongoing series of public events to launch her book, Laura talks about the ways Carr’s and Barb’s lives parallel her own and that of one of her good friends.

Of course, there also are many differences between these characters and the real people. “As this story starts, Carr has lost her husband so she is coming to the island alone. I still have my husband, thankfully,” Laura says.

Discovering ‘that feeling of home’

Among the many similarities between Laura and Carr is how surprised both of them are by finding a deep sense of home in this unlikely location in the Atlantic.

“Reading that part of the story, where Carr discovers that feeling of home, really describes how  deeply I felt about the island myself,” Laura said in our interview. “This is the first place I had really felt that feeling of being at home in all my life. Living in the northeast for much of my life, I was uprooted and transplanted a number of times—and I didn’t always go willingly through those moves. But that day on the island on that tree-lined road was the very first time I had felt that real sense of home—probably forever in my life.

“As you read the book, you’ll find a number of ways and reasons that people are searching for a sense of home, or are trying to preserve their homes.”

If you are intrigued by this theme and might want to talk about this with friends, Laura also provides “Book Club Questions” that are free to download from her website.

An excerpt from the novel

Here is how Laura writes about Carr discovering that feeling of home in the opening pages of her new novel. Our narrator, Carr, has just introduced her Atlanta-based family and her husband Rob to readers. Then Carr explains why they happened to visit such a relatively remote island, called Mongin in the novel:

New to the South, we wanted to explore some of the wonders around us and considered several of the many options the region presented. But Rob and I wanted a place where the kids could freely run around, and we all could enjoy family adventures without crowds or long lines. Then, I took a one-day business trip to Savannah and, on a coffee table in the client’s lobby, I saw a photo taken just as dawn was breaking along an Atlantic shore with an old lighthouse in near silhouette, outlined by streaks of pre-dawn gold and salmon. An empty beach filled with powdery sand was in the foreground.

I picked up the magazine, a regional quarterly called South Carolina Shores, and there was Mongin in all its glory. The story was headlined “Dawn Wakes Up a Sleepy Southern Gem.” It was all about how the nation’s booming real estate market had hit little Mongin Island and featured a full-page photo of a gloriously oak-lined road, plus splashy photos of the recently expanded resort that featured a sixty-room inn and details of the plan to merge “a timeless history of hospitality with modern amenities.” There was even a photo of an oak-and-glass case housed in the island’s lighthouse museum. In the case, I could see some old bottles, clay cookware, and a spectacular looking dinner plate believed to be dated to the 1700s. “This island is so steeped in history, you just have to set foot on our miles of beautiful shoreline to start your own adventure,” the writer boasted.

My mind was racing. I could picture our kids running along that shoreline.

“How about some beachcombing on an island in the Atlantic?” That was all I said at dinner the following evening before unfolding the magazine I had swiped from my client’s lobby. I flipped the pages silently. Nicholas saw that final photo of the shiny treasures in the museum’s display case and, suddenly, all four of us were eagerly awaiting a week on Mongin.

Within days, the computer in our family room was full of bookmarked links to Mongin and that part of the Atlantic coast. We all found images we loved: beautiful beaches, marshes with tall beach grasses, palm trees, and a historic mansion converted to a hotel called the Rosemont Inn. We were ready! Rob and I reserved spots in a few planned activities each day from the resort’s listed amenities, but we kept those from the children, thinking they would enjoy a new surprise each day. This truly would be an adventure of a lifetime. We stuffed the car with suitcases, beach toys, games and golf clubs—and we were off!

We trudged along. As the stops for traffic, food, and breaks piled up, we began to worry about making our reservation on the ferry to the island. Our grand adventure started a little rocky. Tempers frayed. We were hot and tired—and not at all in vacation mode when we pulled into the Mongin Island embarkation station on the tip of South Carolina. With only a few moments to spare, we raced to make the ferry. When we finally stood on the deck, Rob looked at me over the heads of the children and I could tell we were sharing the same thought at that minute: “Maybe now is when our grand adventure begins.”

While living in New England, we had many previous ferry rides from Hyannis to Nantucket and always said our vacation began when our feet left the dock. On those ferries, three hours of salty sprays on your lips and skin and warm sun on your head made it easy to get lulled into a vacation mindset. This ferry to Mongin, however, was fast. It seemed we barely got settled before we spotted some dolphins racing along with our boat and Mongin Island in our sight line. I hadn’t had enough ferry time to fully unwind from the hectic afternoon race toward the docks. Vacation still seemed to elude me.

We moved quickly with the other passengers to the green and white restored trolley waiting for us at the end of the dock. While the bell captains secured all our suitcases and supplies, we boarded and were transported to the resort. I sat on this trolley, thinking about the day we already had—loading the car, the long ride to the ferry, the boat ride, and now this trolley trip, and marveled at how well the kids had both handled it all so far. Something positive was in the air. As we meandered down the main island road, ever so slowly I began to start relaxing the grip I had on my bags and my shoulders started to slide back into their normal position. The air was heavy with humidity, but the palm fronds waved gently as the breeze cooled us down and before I knew it, we were entering the main gate of the resort.

As the trolley turned left into the resort driveway, I realized, in the most unexpected way, that I was home. This place, this magical and mysterious place, was what I had unknowingly been looking for all my life. Through all the places I traveled, I never had experienced any sensation like this. Having never been to this region, all the sights, sounds, and smells were new. It was like having all my senses electrically charged while concurrently feeling like this was the very place I was always meant to be. I was just finding it now for the very first time at thirty-nine years old.

From this point on, we described our life as before Mongin Island, or after Mongin Island.

Care to meet the author?

Laura wants to meet you.

If you already are a fan of cozies, then you understand how strongly loyal readers feel connected to their favorite authors, often meeting them virtually if not in person in public events.

One way Laura is offering authentic hospitality is through her once-a-month email newsletter. And here’s a valuable—and very tasty—tip! If you do visit her website right now in June 2023——and sign up for that newsletter, the July issue will include the recipe for the Toll House Cookie Pie that turns up in one chapter of this first book.

“In the book, this pie is described as like a giant chocolate chip cookie wrapped in a pie crust,” Laura said in our interview. “And my July newsletter is the one place where I’m sharing that recipe with readers who sign up to get that newsletter. The pie is so delicious. We make in our family and it originally came from the island many years ago.”




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