Good day, book people. One of my go-to genres for reading are mysteries and suspense. Ever since my youngest brother became a police officer in our hometown, many years ago, I’ve been particularly attracted to mysteries and suspense featuring police officers or others in the law enforcement arena. However, I’m very particular with books featuring law enforcement officers (LEO) is that the LEOs must be realistic as well as the action. Stories that are taken from the headlines or feature realistic cases are my preference. Needless to say, the authors that write in the genre are rock stars to me. I’m pleased to welcome one such author today. Please help me welcome M.E. Browning, author of the recently released Mercy Creek, the second book in the Jo Wyatt Mysteries series. Ms. Browning will be discussing facts in fiction when dealing with a missing child. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to share with us, add Mercy Creek to your TBR list, and follow the blog tour to learn more about this book and author. Thank you, Ms. Browning, for taking the time to join us today, the blog is all yours.
When a Child Goes Missing: Facts in Fiction
Few police investigations are more fraught with emotion than a report of a missing child. Sadly, more than 365,000 children went missing in 2020 according to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. Some of those children were runaways, others were abducted by a parent or family member. Still others were found almost immediately in their own home or at a friend’s.
At the heart of my next novel, Mercy Creek, is a missing child case. My protagonist, Detective Jo Wyatt, leads her investigation in much the same way that law enforcement does in real-life cases.
On television there is often an obligatory scene where an officer—usually surly and intentionally unhelpful—states that a person must be missing for twenty-four hours before the police department can take action. That is false.
How an investigation proceeds is often determined by the missing person’s risk factors. Law enforcement takes into account mental or behavioral disabilities, medical issues that require drugs, if they’ve already been missing for more than 24 hours before being reported, or any other situation causing a reasonable person to believe the person is at risk. Age alone may be enough to determine if a child is at risk as many jurisdictions treat children under a threshold age as incapable of self-care (for example eleven years old or younger).
Custody issues between divorced parents have accounted for more than a few missing children. I’ve responded to plenty of civil standby calls to ensure estranged parents behaved during their custody exchanges. Occasionally, a parent was late to the exchange—either out of spite or to exert control. It was meant to punish the other parent, not the child. But familial abductions happen far too frequently and in 2020, 63 percent of all AMBER alerts issued were due to a child being abducted by a member of their own family.
For those not familiar with the term, the AMBER Alert System is a cooperative effort between law enforcement and the media in the event of a child abduction. The name pays homage to nine-year-old Amber Hagerman whose kidnapping and murder spurred the system’s creation, but the acronym stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, and the program is administered within the Department of Justice (DOJ).
AMBER Alerts are only one of many tools available to law enforcement when investigating a missing child. There is a vast number of FBI resources that local jurisdictions may request. However, not every tool is appropriate or available for each investigation.
Common requests include aircraft, artists, blood pattern specialists, botanists, crime scene technicians, evidence response teams, entomologists, ground-penetrating radar, pathologists, search and rescue teams, tracking dogs, and underwater search and rescue teams.
The support Detective Jo Wyatt requests for her investigation in Mercy Creek is tailored to the southwest Colorado terrain of her rural jurisdiction and includes search and rescue teams for both land and water, K9 teams, and more. She would be the first to tell you that working a missing child case takes an emotional toll on everyone involved. The crushing reality is that not every investigation has a happy ending, and not every child is found. But Jo would also be quick to point out that the glue holding search and investigative teams together is hope. ♦
by M.E. Browning
October 11 – November 5, 2021 Tour
In an idyllic Colorado town, a young girl goes missing—and the trail leads into the heart and mind of a remorseless killer.
The late summer heat in Echo Valley, Colorado turns lush greenery into a tinder dry landscape. When a young girl mysteriously disappears, long buried grudges rekindle. Of the two Flores girls, Marisa was the one people pegged for trouble. Her younger sister, Lena, was the quiet daughter, dutiful and diligent—right until the moment she vanished.
Detective Jo Wyatt is convinced the eleven-year-old girl didn’t run away and that a more sinister reason lurks behind her disappearance. For Jo, the case is personal, reaching far back into her past. But as she mines Lena’s fractured family life, she unearths a cache of secrets and half-lies that paints a darker picture.
As the evidence mounts, so do the suspects, and when a witness steps forward with a shocking new revelation, Jo is forced to confront her doubts, and her worst fears. Now, it’s just a matter of time before the truth is revealed—or the killer makes another deadly move.
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: October 12th 2021
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 1643857622 (ISBN13: 9781643857626)
ISBN: 9781643857633 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781666520835 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08SVMSNXG (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B09DHJH9ZZ (Audible audiobook)
Series: A Jo Wyatt Mystery, Book 2 || Each mystery in the A Jo Wyatt Mystery series is a stand alone novel.
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Penguin Random House | IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads
M.E. Browning writes the Colorado Book Award-winning Jo Wyatt Mysteries and the Agatha-nominated and award-winning Mer Cavallo Mysteries (as Micki Browning). Micki also writes short stories and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines, and textbooks. An FBI National Academy graduate, Micki worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades and retired as a captain before turning to a life of crime… fiction.
Catch Up With M.E. Browning:
Instagram – @mickibrowning
Twitter – @MickiBrowning
Facebook – @MickiBrowningAuthor
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
ENTER TO WIN:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for M.E. Browning. There will be TWO winners. ONE winner will receive (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and ONE winner will receive one (1) physical copy of Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway runs October 11 through November 7, 2021. Void where prohibited.