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

Garrett Dennis
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A light, quirky, cozy 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

Tell me a book is a boat-filled adventure, a mystery, or a romantic tale, and I'll start reading. Find me a good story that combines all three, plus a dog, and I'll be recommending the book to others. Port Starbird by Garrett Dennis is the first of what the author promises will be the "Storm Ketchum Adventures." Storm Ketchum (aka Ketch) is the main character of this novel, set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and though we're only allowed a few insights into his past, we know that at present Ketch is a water-loving, boat-piloting, scuba diving, authority-fighting guy who loves his dog, Jack. Whether from his boat, TBD, or the Minnow, owned by his friend The Captain, Ketch hatches plans to save his waterside home from being seized by a shady (and possibly felonious) developer. Perhaps he'll float his home away from the scene, or he'll see the developer tossed into prison for one or more of the crimes Storm suspects he's committed. Either way, Ketch hopes his new love, Kari, will be by his side, and he knows that Jack has his back (and the balance of his breakfast). - BOATING TIMES Long Island

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 Lita Smith-Mines, Editor, BOATING TIMES Long Island (

Tell me a book is a boat-filled adventure, a mystery, or a romantic tale, and I'll start reading. Find me a good story that combines all three, plus a dog, and I'll be recommending the book to others.

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 background 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: 3445 KB
  • Print Length: 365 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1496145720
  • 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:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,554 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 25 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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14 of 17 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something different August 10, 2014
By Daisy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of the oddest books I've read. The detail is wonderful. You'll learn much about the Outer Banks history and terrain, but here's the strange part. Ketch has an ex wife and estranged child. That goes nowhere. He tracks people dumping toxic waste into the sound. He doesn't get spotted or have boat trouble, so that poohs out. A greedy developer wants his property to be part of a marina and threatens to have it condemned. Ketch hatches this plan to attach floats to the bottom is his house to float it in the sound when his property is taken. This book is devoid of violence but the description of North Carolina eminent domain laws chilled my very soul. Surely the North Carolina legislature isn't this corrupt, but I fear there's more truth than poetry to the tale. Worth the read.
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21 of 27 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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20 of 26 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, substantial read. August 13, 2014
By Mary D.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a very engaging book. The characters are well drawn and evoke empathy. The flaws and foibles as well as the crimes are cast on a very human scale and the heroics are not overdone. One can really relate to these men and women. I agree with the other reviewer about the distinctive voices - it makes the characters come to life. I must mention that the use of the term "Y'all" is not uniform across the southern states. While I am not personally familiar with North Carolina's usage, all the years I lived in Texas and Georgia I was constantly reminded: "Y'all come back now, ya hear?' I can't blame a New York resident for misplacing his Y'all.
I am looking forward to reading his next book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read! September 28, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a novel which takes place on the outer banks of North Carolina. The author weaves information about the area and the characters as he reveals problems and mysteries. The characters in the story are each interesting individuals and the problems and mysteries keep the reader guessing. Storm Ketchum, known as Ketch in the book, loves his life of early retirement in his cabin on the water with his dog. The problems come when a land developer is prepared to take Ketch' s place by imminent domain if he won't sell. He becomes involved in more problems and mysteries when he realizes some local men are dumping some type of barrels at sea. Enjoyable read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ketchum's Adventure September 4, 2014
By Cookie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This looks like this author could make a series of a retired biologists adventures. From dealing with the laws of eminent domain where either the government or a developer can take your property for very little money to finding illegal dumping in the pristine ocean not to mention a murder or two. This book kept my interest. The diving scenes are realistic and dealing with government red tape was very real, especially the fact that polluters can "buy" permits to pollute!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars It's a NO for me
Too much detail on the Outer Banks for me. I just couldn't get into it and certainly won't read anymore.
Published 1 day ago by Joann R. Greene
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I especially liked all the nautical info, which was all new to me.
The plot was NOT predictable at all?

Good job, Garrett Davis! Keep it up!
Published 11 days ago by Margaret Strauss
5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare yourself! Your in for one crazy boat ride!
Using North Carolina's Outer Banks brought Southern culture to life for those who have yet to experience their hospitality and their way of life on and off the water.
Published 19 days ago by Donna Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I found this story to be quite unique. I truly enjoyed getting to know the characters and their backgrounds. A fine mystery, but mostly a very good character study.
Published 20 days ago by dixie desomer
2.0 out of 5 stars The one good thing was that the sex wasn't described ad infinitum
The story was decent if you don't mind endless descriptions of various things. It wasn't much of a mystery and the author was apparently trying to show his intellect with... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Laura L. Darnell
2.0 out of 5 stars Good story but I felt it was slow going
Good story but I felt it was slow going. For me it didnt pick up until the end. I almost stopped reading it. Also very vague on the "back story".
Published 29 days ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Ugh. Not worth the space on my Kindle!
The book started off slow, and never really seemed to get to much of a point. At the end, after what was a very weak climax, the book just ended. Nothing was tied up. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Wendy Steib
4.0 out of 5 stars Laid back and fun
A message of good conquering bad and optimism prevailing. A fun tale of a reluctant hero in a gorgeous setting.
Published 1 month ago by Paul M. LaFontaine
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Loved the story line, good character development, overall a great relaxing read. I get to visit the beach often, but unfortunately, don't get to live here. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Connie Canode
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice debut.
I read this while on vacation and enjoyed the plot and character development. I plan to check out more books in the series, to see how the story line progresses.
Published 1 month ago by Trikerider
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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. PORT STARBIRD is his first published novel. Garrett is working on his second novel now (PORT OF REFUGE, the next Storm Ketchum Adventure - keep a weather eye out for it!).

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