HARMFUL INTENT Wins in the Grace Awards 2014 ~ Mystery/Thriller/Romantic Suspense/Historical Suspense

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I was thrilled and surprised to find my first contemporary detective novel HARMFUL INTENT had won this year’s Grace Award in the Mystery/Thriller/Romantic Suspense/Historical Suspense category. The competition was stiff. I was up against two fantastic authors who had tremendous support from their readers.

The Grace Awards are reader driven literary awards in faith-based fiction. Readers nominate the finalists and then a panel of judges picks the winner.

I was touched and blown away by what the judges had to say:

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Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller: crime fiction, there’s probably a body

HARMFUL INTENT by Nike Chillemi (Crime Fictionista Press)

From nearly the beginning of the story we knew we were into reading a potential award winner. Right off the bat, Nike Chillemi brings characters onto the scene that are real, with both strengths and weaknesses, and a plot that gets going right away. She has a real talent for spinning the “hard-boiled detective” kind of story. The fact that she takes her New York bred lady detective and lands her square in the outback of Texas adds real flavor to the tale. As the main character, Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels, learns about her murdered husband’s double life and unravels the mystery of his death, we are thrown along with her through a gamut of emotions — anger, resentment, sorrow, and the promise of closure. The story does not lag. Nike has a great “voice” — that magical thing writers long for — in storytelling. Her use of setting, language, pacing, and especially dialogue sparkles. Nike does a bang-up job of weaving a delicious tale of suspense and romance, catching the bad guy, and tying up all the loose ends, even while leading us into the promise of a sequel to come. Nike set the course for these characters’ continuing journey (personal and spiritual) and it will be interesting to see how their character arcs continue. Nicely done!

Writing A Detective Novel ~ The Rules

Investigation

 

 

As in life…some rules can safely be broken, others can’t. Determining which is which often demonstrates who is the proficient writer and who is not.

Quite a few of the rules for writing detective stories are similar to those for writing murder mysteries, suspense novels, and thrillers. Others are very different.

BASIC RULES:

1. The story must have a detective, or detective partners as its main character(s). These can be duly sworn police detectives, fire department arson investigators, licensed private investigators, FBI special agents, homeland security investigators and the like, or military police officers of high enough rank to be investigating crimes. They are law enforcement professionals on the case to solve a particular crime or series of crimes.

2. The story must have a victim or victims. Usually there is a dead body, preferably more than one. But the crime could be kidnap, or arson that did not result in murder, or perhaps eco-terrorism resulting in corpses or not. The crime could involve the brutalization or killing of animals (especially if the detective is a park ranger). Most often there is a human murder or murders.

3. The detective story is an intellectual game, much like solving a puzzle or playing chess. There are opponents in this game. The detective is pitted against the criminal. They must be equally matched for it to be a good game. Although the reader knows the detective is going to win, for it to be a compelling story,  it has to feel at times, as if the criminal might triumph over the detective. The criminal must be clever enough to inflict some mental, emotional, and/or physical damage on the detective(s).

4. The old axiom was that the criminal’s identity must be unknown to both the detective(s) and the reader until the very end. This is still largely true. If the criminal’s identity is know the story becomes suspense. Lately, there’s been some line blurring in this area. In the modern market place, many genres have blurry lines.

5. The criminal should be introduced early in the story, amidst a field of plausible red herrings.  There’s nothing worse than having the criminal sprung on the reader, out of the blue, at the last minute. There could be more than one culprit. So, secondary culprits can be introduced later. Still, it’s sort of cheating to wait till the very end even for those to be brought into the story line. Don’t want to give the reader a bait-and-switch feeling. Finding out who the killer is at the end ~ good. Introducing the killer at the end ~ bad idea.

6. The crime should also be introduced at the beginning. It’s been said within the first three chapters. The first chapter is best. Opening up in the very midst of it, helps grab the reader’s attention. The specific crime must fit the criminal’s psyche and personality, and he/she must have had the know-how and ability to commit said crime.

7. Supply plausible and understandable clues that both give hints as to the identity of the criminal, and also clues that point to others who are merely red herrings. Also leave clues as to the motive for the crime(s).

8. In days gone by, it was almost written in stone that the detective story is simply one of detecting, that no social issues must be brought into it and certainly no romance. This is no longer the case. Readers enjoy a detective protagonist with a social conscience, or definite lack thereof. It makes him/her more interesting. In the same way a love interest for the detective often gives her/him an Achilles’ heel which the crafty criminal can take advantage of. The Christian detective story must have inspirational or redemptive elements to it. However, in the detective sub-genre, the overwhelming majority of the plot must be about the protagonist detective(s) detecting and solving the crime(s), or else it’s not a detective story.

9. The crime must not be solved by super-natural or extraordinary means. The criminal can’t be caught via psychic powers, magic, assistance from ghosts, aliens from another planet, or the like. Those scenarios make the story speculative fiction, not a detective story. Although in today’s world, it’s entirely possible to have a spec fic detective story, but that book would not be shelved with detective stories in a book store. Then again, you might hit a bookstore where it would be. Go figure.

Murder

REVENGE by Paula Rose ~ an intriguing author interview

Revenge
Nike: I was first attracted by your title and cover. I think they speak to the contemporary murder mystery and romantic suspense environment. So then, I read a sample on Amazon and bought the Kindle copy of your book. Can you tell us how you chose your title and cover design?

Paula: My villain chose my story title as he steered the plot to a more sinister version of himself then I thought of originally. These characters almost wrote themselves into the story despite my best efforts of writing the story my way. In the end, it all worked but it’s clear the muse doesn’t always listen to me.

This amazing cover design was crafted by Laura Heritage from Anaiah Press!
Nike: Olivia Foster is totally dedicated to her autistic clients. I really like that about her personality. But she is a bit oblivious to the harsher realities of life and finds herself in mess. Can you tell us a bit about that without giving anything away?

Paula: In Revenge, the death of her brother led Olivia Foster into her career choice, but she is too focused on her job and its duties. You are correct in that she is oblivious to the harsher realities in life until they come hunt her down. Her education in fear is just beginning on page one of REVENGE.
Nike: Tell us something about you as an author? What are your passions in life that might one day show up in your writing? What inspires you to write?

Paula: As an author, sometimes, I know exactly where my story is going, but most times, I have only a loose idea and am surprised as things happen. I write because I have stories to tell and many characters to meet. To go deep into a tale is something I truly enjoy.

Pictures have become a passion in my life. As I’m amateur photographer, my pictures are already intertwined with my writing as I have muse pictures for scenes and plot questions. I can see me writing a story about a photographer, making the pictures the dangerous part of a story. Some of my muse pics appear on Pinterest.

Isolated

This image is entitled “Isolated.” Paula used it as an inspirational muse when writing REVENGE. You can find more of Paula’s photographic inspirations at her Pinterest board: Muse Inspirations.

Scenes

 

Here is a photo from Paula’s Pinterest Board entitled: Scenes. These are photos Paula uses to inspire her in her writing.

 

Nike: You mentioned that your villain titled and changed your story. Did the other characters behave the way you wanted?

Paula: Olivia Foster’s fiery personality changed the plot in a major way. She ditched the officer bodyguards! That scene wasn’t ever in my story. However, plotting was an even more difficult task because of detective, Phillip Landon.

Detective Lt. Phillip Landon refused to fit the characteristics of an Alpha male. This man’s career doubts and back story made him, at times, unapproachable, but he was turning into someone I didn’t know anymore. He started out with one personality, but as he grew, his background changed adding layers of baggage. In the end, he wasn’t the same man that I had first envisioned.

 

Book Blurb:

As a job coach, it’s up to Olivia Foster to ensure her clients work in a safe environment, understand their positions, and serve their employer’s mission. The death of her brother drives her career choice, and she loves her job. It remains her only focus until one of her autistic clients goes missing. Then Olivia’s employer ends her position and adds her to the suspect list, but she makes plans to bring the missing young man home.

Detective Lt. Phillip Landon is deep into second-guessing his career choice, but his well-honed instincts see major flaws inside this missing person’s case. Surprising contacts, mysterious happenings, and threats can turn deadly. Can he keep Olivia safe, protect his heart, remove the job coach from someone’s target list, and adopt a faith he never knew all while adjusting to the new lives of his old family?

 

Author Bio:

Author Paula Rose brings an “average” family into extraordinary situations, brushes with life-size strokes of reality, adding just a touch of humor, and coats with suspense inside Christian fiction. Paula’s research gives readers a panoramic view from law enforcement and lends to character authenticity. She enjoys writing in the romantic suspense, suspense, and mystery genres, but when she’s not writing, Paula Rose is playing amateur photographer. Member of ACFW.

 

More Purchase Lnks:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/13x45kB
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/13x4bbW
iBooks: http://bit.ly/1xjbjqt
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1xp6KI0
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1zoDRN5
Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/1EucMg1

HARMFUL INTENT, the Perfect Kindle Christmas Gift ~ read an engaging chapter

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The world always seems more vibrant to me at Christmas. It’s also a time when I love to curly up with a good novel and a cup of hot tea. For those of you who are like me, crime fiction lovers, let me suggest you try a deadly funny contemporary detective story, HARMFUL INTENT.

It’s humorcide…as mentioned before, deadly funny. Take a look-see at the first chapter. Now on sale through the New Year for 99 cents on your Kindle.

Chapter One

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY
May, Day One, Morning
Veronica Ingels, Private Detective

I unstrapped the banker’s special Colt .22 from my ankle, then leaned against the bureau in the one bedroom condo I shared with my husband, Mark.
Massaging my temples did nothing for my whopper-headache. Infidelity surveillance. So many of the bodies-in-the-buff I’d snapped shots of were much less impressive than might be imagined. Awful way to make a living, but couldn’t see myself doing anything else. Catching the guilty party in the act had almost become a mission.

 
This past week, the job that had me living out of a suitcase in a nondescript motel on Long Island had been particularly icky. The sleazoid owner of a repo agency cheated on his wife, my client. He, thought himself to be super macho, with this sandy buzz-cut and a six pack pushing through his black silk-tee. He took one look at the blond bombshell who thought she shouldn’t have to make payments on her Caddy, and… ahem… they’d made an arrangement.

 
Due to their total disregard for modesty and all caution, the job ended several days ahead of schedule. I dropped the incriminating photos off with my boss at the detective agency. Thankfully, I didn’t have to sit across a desk from the wife and show the evidence to her. Well, it’s what she’d paid for.

 
Earlier in the morning, on my way home from the stakeout, the Southern State Parkway had made like a parking lot. I maneuvered through stagnant, rush-hour traffic on my way home, trying to erase the images of those two lowlifes in all their glory. Sliding an Adele CD into the drive and turning the volume up had helped somewhat.
Silence met me as I opened the door to our condo. Mark’s Sports Illustrated magazine lay perfectly aligned with the corners of our rectangular, glass coffee table. Right where Mr. Fastidious had set it before he left for his speaking engagement.

 
I left the suitcase in the entry way, tossed my keys on top of the magazine, and it slid off the table with the keys and onto the floor. I left them, as Mark wouldn’t return for another two days. That was par for the course in a marriage with a motivational speaker.

 
I usually begged off on out-of-town assignments, but with Mark away, I had taken the surveillance on Long Island. So why was my scowl mocking me in the mirror above the bureau? “Okay, he’s always on the road… so just suck it up.”

 
After disregarding package directions and downing four Extra Strength Excedrin, I picked up the gold-framed wedding photo of Mark and me. There we were, on a glorious spring day, locked in an embrace. Smiling, we gazed into each other’s eyes on the granite steps in front of the arched, red doors of my mother’s church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. My blond hair was in a French twist adorned with baby’s breath, not the high ponytail I threw it into for work. And, my dream dress… a Battenberg lace sheath with a sweetheart neckline and a flutter train… had transformed me into something elegant.

 
I did a quick two-step with the photo clutched to my heart. One year later and it felt as if we were still on our honeymoon. If only Mark didn’t travel so much.

 
I pulled the Glock pistol from my conceal and carry shoulder bag and took the clip out, opened our closet, knelt and retrieved the gun lock-box from the far corner. Time to put the weapons away and morph into my wifey role. I’d make a trip to the supermarket and pick up a couple of steaks to have on hand when Mark came home. Then a stop at Henry Schwartz Tobacconist for Mark’s favorite, a couple of Arturo Fuente Anejo cigars.

 
I was about to unlock the box when I spied one of Mark’s shirts crumpled in the opposite back corner. It must have fallen off the hanger ’cause Mr. Neat would never have dumped it there.

 
I snagged it off the floor with the tip of my Glock, gave the garment a good shake, and was about to return it to a hanger when I spotted deep-red lipstick on the collar. My hand trembled. I wore soft pinks or muted pinkish-browns, if I bothered with lip-color at all.
“No.” Deep in the reptilian part of my jaded private investigator’s brain, I knew the signs. I walked stiff-legged toward my bedside lamp and switched it on.

 
“Can’t be.” I examined the shirt. Definitely lipstick and there was a heavy musky scent as well. Not at all like my signature ocean-breeze cologne. I sniffed again, willing it to smell like my light scent. No such luck!

 
I dropped the Italian, custom tailored shirt on the floor and backed away as if it were a viper about to strike. After taking several calming deep breaths, I reloaded the Glock and shoved it back into my purse. With two swift steps, I swept the Colt off the bureau and secured it in my ankle holster. I don’t always carry concealed, but in this instance, the weapons made me feel secure.

 
Rushing for the door, I snatched my keys off the floor, kicked the magazine across the room as if I were a quarterback, then struggled to keep my balance. I stumbled over the silver, hard-sided weekender I’d lived out of during the infidelity surveillance, and tumbled to the floor, skinning the heels of my hands on the hardwood. In the process, my cell phone slid across the highly polished flooring. I crawled after it.

 
It needed a charge, but the call to my boss went through. I kept the details of my sad story to a minimum, and he gave me a week off.
After squelching the urge to scream, I grabbed the weekender, rushed out the door and took the elevator down. My hands shook as I pulled my topaz-metallic Chevy Cruze Eco out of the building’s underground parking garage. Mark had said the car matched the blue of my eyes. A tear ran down my cheek. I had to get away from here… needed time to think.

 
I headed for the airport.

 
Parking at JFK had been a nightmare. Security queues were extremely long and TSA agents testy. Flights were delayed due to a storm front moving toward the east from the Midwest.

 
I stood at the American Airlines ticket counter. “Yes, that’s right. Veronica Ingels. The return… um… make it one week from today.”

 
“Certainly.” The young woman dressed in navy with a red and white scarf around her neck smiled and in short order handed me my tickets and boarding pass.
“Excuse me.” I zigzagged through throngs of weary passengers on my way to the women’s room. A busty woman in black leggings and a zebra print tunic hurtled past me on her way out of the lavatory. I sidestepped her, entered a stall, and sat. I fished around inside my hard-sided weekender for the two portable gun cases still in there from the surveillance job. I made sure my weapons were unloaded, and locked them in the cases, then shoved them into my luggage and closed it. I hurried to the counter to declare the weapons and sign the necessary paperwork before boarding. TSA would take a hard look at my weekender and it would be stowed in the hold. Wouldn’t have to worry when I landed since I was licensed to carry in Texas.
Just last week, my best friend from college had said over the phone, “Come on down, honey, any time. I’ve got the sweetest guest room overlookin’ the pool.” An offer she’d made many times.
Of course, as per usual, workaholic me begged off, citing a crushing load of cases at the agency. However, if there ever was a time to take her up on her offer, this was it.
By this time my cell phone had died, and I’d left my charger in my car in long-term parking. I found a store on the concourse selling chargers, but the lines at the register were so long I had to abandon that plan and run to board my plane.
The pilot battled turbulence, advising us to keep our seat belts fastened, as we flew through western storm clouds. I pulled out my pressed-powder compact and using its mirror applied fresh lipstick, light pink. What I saw appalled me… a pasty white pallor, dark circles under my eyes. Not surprising, as I was all but ready to reach for a barf bag.
After changing planes in D.C. and Dallas, hoping they didn’t lose the stowed-bag with my weapons, I arrived at my destination. Abilene.

 
“Good evenin’, ma’am.” The clerk at the rental car counter smiled, drawing his Texas twang out as if we had all the time in the world. That type of easy-going attitude had New Yorkers virtually twitching when they went out of town.
I tried to mold my lips into a smile. Hadn’t eaten anything in hours, except peanuts, although the flights had been so rough I probably couldn’t have kept anything down. Focused? I hardly knew the time zone, couldn’t put two coherent thoughts together, and wound up with what had to be the ugliest car on the lot, a lime green Smart Coupe.
I threw my weekender into the pint-sized trunk and in twenty minutes arrived at Cassidy’s Bridal Couture. The heavy glass door silently opened, and I stood in a gossamer world of white. For the first time since leaving Brooklyn, I felt safe.

 
Rushing toward the back, I made my way through an ocean of gowns, mostly bridal. Some mother-of-the-bride, bridesmaids, and prom.

 
As I approached the bridal veil display, I tripped over my own feet, disbelieving my eyes.
Mark held my college BFF, Cassidy Renault, in his arms, his body pressed up against hers with insistence, kissing her. Or, was he performing a tonsillectomy? When they came up for air, he had a deep-red lipstick smudge at the corner of his lips.

 
I ducked behind a rack of sale dresses, gasping for breath.

 
“This won’t do, darlin’.” Cassidy reached over, her talons matching the smudge on his lips and snatched a tissue from a faux gold dispenser on the ornate highly polished Louis XIV desk. She purred as she wiped his face.

 
I hurled myself in their direction. No doubt, my body went into near spasms and conveyed all the emotional turmoil coursing through me. Fear, anger, even self-loathing gnawed at me.

 
“Ronnie, what on earth are you doing here?” Mark took a backward step and his voice registered shock, but not even a hint of contrition.
“Me! I think the better question is why did I find you here, Mark, with my so-called best friend?”

 
Cassidy stepped closer to my husband and held onto his arm. “Now, honey, I’m real sorry you had to find out this way, truly I am. But since you have, you’ve got to face facts.”

 
I had heard stories about ultra-feminine southern belles who were made of steel. Here stood the woman I’d shared secrets with in college showing not a scintilla of embarrassment. I waved a finger in that witch’s face. “Don’t you call me honey.”

 
She pursed her painted lips, looking like a red grouper. “Ronnie, nobody wants to hurt you. You’re lovely as the girl next door, but Mark has moved on.”

 
It was a good thing my weapons were locked in that stupid little car, because in that moment I wanted to shoot them both through the heart with a single bullet. Truth be told, my aim is that good.

 
Mark wrapped a protective arm around Cassidy’s shoulder. “Ronnie, I was going to talk to you when I got home from this trip.”

 
That explained why his shirt with the lipstick stain had been left on the closet floor. He had no reason to hide anymore. Maybe he wanted me to find it. “Oh, I see and just what kind of motivational speaking have you been doing all this time?” My voice dripped sarcasm.

 
He took a step forward. “It’s something you’re just going to have to deal with, I’m afraid. I’m asking for a divorce.”
I pivoted, tripped over my feet again, and this time knocked over the veil display. Took something with yards of tulle halfway through the store before I shook it off. Tears streaming down my face, I raced blindly out the door, probably looking like a mad woman.

 

Courtesy of FreeImage by moniquef12
Courtesy of FreeImage by moniquef12

Thanksgiving 99cents sale: HARMFUL INTENT

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Thanksgiving is a warm and cozy holiday. It’s truly a wonderful American holiday, such a great time for family and friends get together.

It’s also a fantastic time to curl up with a cup of steaming tea, coffee, or hot cocoa and start in reading a murder mystery. I don’t know why, but to me, autumn seems to lend itself to reading crime fiction. I can see myself sitting by a roaring fire or listening to the wind blow outside as I turn pages.

So, I’m going to make it easy for readers to enjoy my newest murder mystery release, HARMFUL INTENT. I’m reducing the price to 99 cents for Thanksgiving.

HARMFUL INTENT

Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully. Tons of humor. Really, it’s a scream!

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Raves for HARMFUL INTENT:

Who’d a thunk it? Nike Chillemi’s New York gusto in Texas. HARMFUL INTENT is a mystery/suspense delight, mixing Nike’s New York flavor, the quirkiness of the South, a mystery to die for, and laugh aloud humor. I couldn’t put it down. ~ Fay Lamb, author of STALKING WILLOW and BETTER THAN REVENGE.

Nike Chillemi delivers another gritty ‘who dun it’ in her signature no nonsense style, with just the right amount of humor to lighten it up on occasion while keeping it real. Tracy Krauss – award winning and bestselling author of numerous novels including WIND OVER MARSHDALE

Echoing the best pulp fiction of generations past, Chillemi’s new contemporary series will please readers of romantic suspense. Harmful Intent introduces a modern day big-city female PI armed to the teeth and ready to draw when faced with danger in Texas. The best of both worlds happen when east coast meets southern charm in the hunt for cold-blooded killers. –Lisa Lickel, author of The Buried Treasure series

 

Terrific Mystery Reads for Independence Day

Burning Hearts LgDo you love America’s military heroes? Then BURNING HEARTS is for you. WWII hero, Lieutenant Lorne Kincaid is home from the war and find himself framed for arson/murder. On top of that, he’s fallen head over heels for a gal who’s afraid to trust him.

Critically Acclaimed…

Readers Choice Five Stars

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?

Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with had fallen in the WWII, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her close friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs.

Purchase Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble

 

New Release…

Harmful Intent, Amazon Lg

Another read for the Fourth of July, or simply as a great summer read. This one won’t insult your patriotic values. And the good guys win.

hand gun

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Flag, American

 

WORKS OF DARKNESS by VB Tenery ~ a review

Works of DarknessPolice Chief Matt Foley’s beloved, deceased wife Mary was best friends with Sara Bradford, but Matt doesn’t like Sara or trust her. In fact, deep down, he thinks she’s guilty of having murdered her own husband. He just hasn’t been able to prove it…yet.
Sara is very attractive, smart, capable, and loving.

 

She adopts two orphan children who were involved in her church’s bus program bringing under privileged kids to Sunday school. Yet, she’s by no means invincible. She has fears and makes mistakes. She comes off like a real living, breathing person.
Then a small child’s body is found on the grounds of what used to be a Christian camp grounds. This missing persons cold-case is twenty-five years old. The little girl who is now known to have been murdered was Sara’s childhood neighbor and best friend. In fact Sara was the last person to have seen little Penny Pryor alive. Could Sara have a valuable memory locked away the police can use to solve this heinous crime? That’s what Chief Foley wonders. This heart wrenching cold case opens terrible old wounds for the child’s parents and those who knew the family, including Sara’s aunt.

 

There are no shortage of plot twists and turns and they’re done in a seamless and believable way. Sara is buffeted by brutal corporate maneuvering at her job. Then she becomes a target and her physical safety is in jeopardy. She’s on a roll…a downward roll. Matt Foley begins to have sympathy for her plight but can’t let go of his conviction that she’s a murderess.

 

Local town politic and corporate politics is portrayed in a knowing way. The way upwardly mobile characters jockey for position and advantage is convincing. They definitely make a direct hit below the belt when somebody suggests Matt married his somewhat older wife for her money. Matt is hurt and angered when he hears of this ugly rumor, not for himself, but because he thinks these allegations might mar Mary’s memory and legacy.
The author supplies credible red herrings. In fact, she had me believing a certain character I liked a great deal was viable as the child’s murderer and the one behind Sara’s physical danger. Then the author pulls in the other loose end, Sara’s husband’s murder, in a manner I was not expecting.

 

While Chief Foley has nothing but mistrust for Sara, a lop-sided romantic triangle of sorts is unfolding. The cantankerous female medical examiner has her eyes on Matt (or should we say, her hooks out), but Matt is still grieving his wife’s death from cancer. Meanwhile, Matt’s friend, the county sheriff has a hankering for the lady ME.

 

The author brings the novel to a close with a crescendo. But it appears as if the villain might be victorious. Then in a most unexpected way, he is defeated.

 

PURCHASE LINK: Amazon.  http://amzn.to/1t78bpX