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Port Starbird (Storm Ketchum Adventures Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Garrett Dennis
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $3.99
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Book Description

A cozy, quirky, low-key mystery/adventure set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Red City Review Book Awards - FINALIST
Best Kindle Book Award - SEMIFINALIST
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award - QUARTERFINALIST

When a wealthy developer suspected of murder comes offering money for the land, Ketch is the last to hold out. Ketch's knowledge of the island is professorial, something that will appeal to readers who adore a strong sense of place. The accented dialogue creates the right southern atmosphere... A good effort. - Publishers Weekly

Garrett Dennis' Port Starbird has everything that a fun, summer weather novel should have - adventure, romance, beautiful beaches, guitar playing, underwater excursions, and, of course, murder mystery intrigue! Storm Ketchum is a retiree who is discovering that life after your career may be even better than the crazy days of your twenties. After settling in Avon, North Carolina and purchasing the house of his realistic, fiscally responsible retirement beach dreams, Ketch is ready to live out the rest of his days quietly. However, his life takes a stressful turn when his home and habits are threatened by Bob Ingram, the dirtiest real estate mogul in Avon. In an effort to avoid Ingram's threats of eminent domain and save his home, Ketch becomes the secret detective that his parents had always hoped he would be. With his faithful canine sidekick by his side and the good-looking Kari in his bed, Ketch begins a journey that will bring secrets to the surface and make him into a different man with a different view of the world. - Red City Review

What do you get when you combine coastal history and ecology, scuba diving, a love story, and a violent crime? In this quirky low-key murder mystery/adventure, Storm Ketchum, a damaged emigre to the coastal town of Avon on North Carolina's Outer Banks, likes to mind his own business and isn't any kind of detective - until he's forced to become one by extraordinary circumstances. On the verge of losing his modest waterfront home to an unscrupulous developer, Ketch stumbles onto the scene of a crime that might expose the perpetrator of an unsolved murder and enable him to save not only his own home, but also the similarly threatened bohemian boatyard community he's inexorably drawn into. And in case Plan A fails, he's hard at work on a Plan B that's both laudable and pitiable - if he can't stop them from seizing his property and ruining what's left of his historic town, he's hell-bent on turning the event into a unique kind of political statement. Together with his loyal dog, a salty charter boat captain, the sketchy denizens of the boatyard, and an alluring scuba diving instructor who may or may not have a hidden agenda, Ketch struggles to make sense of his new reality, while trying to save some of the things that really matter along the way.

Editorial Reviews



Dennis' novel could not be more of an enjoyable read unless you were receiving a massage while reading it. The storyline is engaging and Dennis' characters are so well written that you almost want to invite them to your next barbeque. Port Starbird should find a home on every shelf and become a yearly reading ritual.


When a wealthy developer suspected of murder comes offering money for the land, Ketch is the last to hold out. Ketch's knowledge of the island is professorial, something that will appeal to readers who adore a strong sense of place. The accented dialogue creates the right southern atmosphere... A good effort.

From AMAZON.COM Vine Reviews:

Really well-developed characters, especially Ketch and the Captain. Plus, they are unique people, very quirky and entertaining... I thought the author did a great job of balancing information, history, and story... Very good writing in terms of both word choice and actual structure.

From Gee Gee Rosell, owner, Buxton Village Books:

The title being StarBIRD instead of Starboard should give you a hint of the humor in this book. Dennis has woven a thick line of suspense through a coastal cultural dark comedy. Throw in a dash of romance and you have a terrific summer read with the flavor of Hiaasen and White. Oh, and it's set on Hatteras Island.

From the Author

It appears that most people "get" this book, but some don't; either that, or it wasn't what they were looking or hoping for. So here are some notes for anyone who might be on the fence about reading this book after scanning the reviews:
1. This is not a cookie-cutter mystery, suspense, or action/adventure story; nor did I intend or want it to be. If you're looking for a formulaic, fast-moving read that's meant to be devoured rather than savored, this probably isn't your kind of book.
2. If you enjoy a laid-back, thoughtful, and descriptive read, you might like this book. There is significant informational detail along the way, but it isn't just "filler" - it exists for purposes of setting, character development, and edification (I'd like everyone to know how special my favorite island is!). If the amount of detail in books by authors like Tom Clancy, Stieg Larsson, or Barbara Kingsolver doesn't discourage you, you'll probably find this a relatively easy read.
3. This is a standalone book; despite being part of a series, there are no major cliffhangers.
4. This book has been edited to my artistic satisfaction, and this edition does not misuse Southern slang.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3697 KB
  • Print Length: 364 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: TBD Press; 1 edition (March 3, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IRSX51I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,827 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it! March 29, 2014
By Mizzy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It seems to me that when I can associate separate voices in my head with the dialog in the book I am reading, it always ends up being something I will go back and read again. This is the case with Port Starbird. There was a little mystery, a lot of humor and attitudes that I can truly relate to. Can't wait to see what happens with Storm next!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Badly misuses southern slang. August 1, 2014
By daisy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a southerner, I don't think I'll be able to finish this book. While it appears to be well written in many ways, the author misuses the word y'all repeatedly. Y'all is a contraction for you all. It does not mean you in the singular tense. This is a common mistake non-southern writers make. Adding y'all to a book doesn't make it sound southern if it isn't used the way it is used in the south!
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life Happens When You Open Yourself To It May 5, 2014
Ketch is a "young retiree" who seems just at this point in his life of allowing life to truly "happen." He is a complex character; great knowledge of the environment, strong computer skills, extremely attentive to detail, and almost constantly introspective - and yet........he enjoys a good time, makes no character judgements, and often "seeks input" from his dog. I very much enjoyed how the author "immerses" the reader - with historical, demographic, scientific, and other information. The reader then feels a greater connection with both the characters and the action developing in the book. The book most definitely leaves the reader with interest in Ketch's "next adventure," kind of like reconnecting with a friend who leads an exciting life that's always full of surprises. A fun read!
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The novel is a very good romance wrapped in a murder mystery . I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the characters, the area, diving and love between Storm and his dog. I enjoyed many of the quotes, especially the one from John Prine. I am looking forward to the next Storm Ketchum novel.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A visit to the Outer Banks. March 29, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Garrett Dennis is a new author and he hit it out of the ballpark on his first try. If you have ever been to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, you will enjoy the trip that this book takes you on. Good character development and a mystery to keep your interest. It is worth a read. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fewer facts,tighter plotting August 1, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I kind of got buried in all the details--the NC laws on eminent domain, the geography lesson on the Outer Banks and more info on tidal anomalies than I really wanted to know. I still don't know much about the main character and the angst over his earlier life. And what happened to the main bad guy, the developer, he just seemed to fade away. Good potential story but overall, a disappointing read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Filled with extraneous detail August 5, 2014
By Gab
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
So far, I've done a lot of skipping entire Kindle screens. Several other reviewers have mentioned that this is filled with too much history, geography, etc. That's not the way to begin a book that captures readers' attention. I'm about 20 percent in on my Kindle, and it's just waaaaaaaaay too much background. I'll come back and update my review if the book suddenly picks up steam--and my interest. But if it continues at this pace, my opinion that this writer needed a smart editor will stand.

UPDATE: Just finished. My review stands. Another reviewer said it perfectly: this book is drowning in detail. It's a shame, really. The author's a good writer, and the story has promise. (Though I didn't buy or enjoy the Ketch-Keri romance.) He just needs a strong hand to show him where to amp up the mystery/adventure and amp down the meandering detail. I wish this author well.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read April 16, 2014
By ReaderZ
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Port Starbird is a lot of fun and Storm Ketchum is a great character. Well drawn and real. I can't wait to find out what he gets up to next!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked the book
I liked the book, because it gave me information about the Outer Banks which my husband and I would love to go back and visit or live there one day. Read more
Published 20 hours ago by Flowergirl
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking forward to more Storm Ketchum.
Hope this is a character we'll see more of in the future😀 Enjoyed the story, characters, and definitely the setting.
Published 4 days ago by SteveHoleman
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelously written book. A wonderful story.
This book brings to mind my joyful times on the Outer Banks, NC. The quaint villages, the ocean and sounds and the smell of the salted sea breeze. Read more
Published 5 days ago by R.G. Sciandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
I'm a fan of both mysteries and island stories, so this one was a double treat! Going to look for more by this author!
Published 6 days ago by Brinda
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very enjoyable. It kept me guessing.
Published 8 days ago by Angela Gulko
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time on this.
I was 50% into this book on my Kindle before it ever revealed the "real" plot. I skipped over many many Kindle screens so I would not have to read a geography book or law... Read more
Published 8 days ago by L. Lindell
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, light read
Fun,light read.
Published 8 days ago by Deborah Pollard
5.0 out of 5 stars Port Starbird Relaxing
Enjoyed the book! In next book hope same characters. Local setting was somewhat familiar as I had travelled NC several years ago.
Published 9 days ago by Sue
3.0 out of 5 stars The plot itself was good, but the writing was dragging
This book was just way to slow. It really did not have anything to hold you. The plot itself was good, but the writing was dragging. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Laurie Marsicek
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 11 days ago by Belinda Sullivan
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More About the Author

Garrett lives in upstate New York, where he and his wife serve as the housekeeping staff for two rather spoiled dogs. His degrees include a B.S. and M.S. in biology, and an M.S. in computer science. After a career that ranged from testing experimental pharmaceuticals (legal ones, and not on himself!) to developing mainframe computer operating system software, he decided to retire from the real world and try his hand at writing fiction. Garrett lived in North Carolina for a while some years back, and the current focus of his writing is a place that's special to him, the Outer Banks region of North Carolina, which he still occasionally visits when possible. Garrett is working on his second novel (PORT OF REFUGE, the next Storm Ketchum Adventure - keep a weather eye out for it!).

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