Guest Post: Emilya Naymark – HIDE IN PLACE

Hello, book people and welcome to the almost end of the week! (Hey, we have to celebrate what we can, when we can.) I’m constantly searching for new-to-me authors and adding new-to-me titles to my TBR list then lamenting the fact that I never seem to find the time to get to read all of the books I want. (Yes, I know that if I actually stopped re-re-reading books I might actually have time to read all of these new-to-me books, but that’s a whole other discussion.) Since I began this blog, I’ve realized all of the hard work and research that goes into writing. Authors have to choose the setting for the books, the characters and their names, the action, when the characters will speak, etc. As readers, we presume it’s all done effortlessly, but if you read a book that’s set in a familiar location and the author makes a mistake in describing an area, you quickly realize that it isn’t as effortless as it appears. I’m pleased to welcome Emilya Naymark, author of Hide In Place to the blog today. Ms. Naymark will be discussing with us today the importance of setting or location for a story. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Naymark and I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say. Thank you, Ms. Naymark for taking the time to join us today.

Location, Location, Location

A story’s setting is so important that it’s often thought of as yet another character. Location has moods and atmosphere, it can be benign or antagonistic, and it, more than any other aspect of a novel, offers escapism.

When deciding where to set my debut crime novel, I had no doubts—it would take place in the Hudson Valley of New York, my new home. I moved to the Hudson Valley in 2013, and I immediately became enamored of its mountains, rivers, lakes and endless hiking opportunities. The Appalachian Trail runs through forests mere miles from my house. There is a tremendous amount of history here too, with West Point a short drive north and a restaurant still in operation which had served, briefly, as Major John André’s prison before his execution.

The land is picturesque here year-round, but winter offers a particularly stark beauty, and when I began writing I knew right away my characters had to face their demons in the middle of a snowstorm.

However, writing is a way for an author to practice escapism as well, and when I thought of my NYPD detective character, Laney Bird, working, I imagined her at the opposite end of the spectrum—on a sun-blistered boardwalk in New York’s Brighton Beach. Not only did I enjoy transporting myself to the beach and “Little Odessa”, as Brighton Beach is known, but the setting made absolute sense for Laney’s job. As an undercover detective, she works a RICO (racketeering) case against the Russian mob. And where better to do this than at the bull’s eye epicenter of Russian mafia in New York (if not the entire USA)?

The novel swings back and forth between Laney’s past, working her case in sun-drenched Brighton and her horrifying present in an icebound Hudson Valley.

These settings have psychological connotations as well—the seemingly cloudless, warm past, tinged with a nostalgic glow over its boardwalks, sand, and ethnic foods, and the harsh, cold, isolated present. Memories for characters in books, as for real people leading real lives, are not the most accurate recorders of reality, and so the environment steps in as a metaphor. Maybe Laney’s time working the racketeering case seems hotter, sunnier, merrier, because back then she thought she had everything she ever wanted.

And maybe her life in February-frigid Sylvan seems colder and more nightmarish because of all the things she believes she’s lost.

 

Hide In Place

by Emilya Naymark

March 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

HIDE IN PLACE - ENaymark

She left the NYPD in the firestorm of a high-profile case gone horribly wrong. Three years later, the ghosts of her past roar back to terrifying life.

When NYPD undercover cop Laney Bird’s cover is blown in a racketeering case against the Russian mob, she flees the city with her troubled son, Alfie. Now, three years later, she’s found the perfect haven in Sylvan, a charming town in upstate New York. But then the unthinkable happens: her boy vanishes.

Local law enforcement dismisses the thirteen-year-old as a runaway, but Laney knows better. Alfie would never abandon his special routines and the sanctuary of their home. Could he have been kidnapped–or worse? As a February snowstorm rips through the region, Laney is forced to launch her own investigation, using every trick she learned in her years undercover.

As she digs deeper into the disappearance, Laney learns that Alfie and a friend had been meeting with an older man who himself vanished, but not before leaving a corpse in his garage. With dawning horror, Laney discovers that the man was a confidential informant from a high-profile case she had handled in the past. Although he had never known her real identity, he knows it now. Which means several other enemies do, too. Time is running out, and as Laney’s search for her son grows more desperate, everything depends on how good a detective she really is–badge or no.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: February 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 278
ISBN: 1643856375 (ISBN13: 9781643856377)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Author - Emilya Naymark

Emilya Naymark’s short stories appear in Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, 1+30: THE BEST OF MY STORY, and in the upcoming Harper Collins anthology A Stranger Comes to Town.

She has a degree in fine art, and her artworks have been published in numerous magazines and books, earning her a reputation as a creator of dark, psychological pieces.

When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of thrillers and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.

Catch Up With Emilya Naymark:
www.EmilyaNaymark.com/author/
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


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Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Emilya Naymark. There will be THREE winners. ONE winner will receive (1) physical copy of Hide In Place by Emilya Naymark (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on March 1, 2021 and runs through April 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Spotlight: GROUNDS FOR MURDER by Tara Lush

Grounds for Murder, A Coffee Lover’s Mystery, by Tara Lush
ISBN: 9781643856186 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781643856193 (ebook)
ASIN: B0871KTTMC   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: December 8, 2020

Barista Lana Lewis’s sleuthing may land her in a latte trouble as Tara Lush launches her new Coffee Shop mysteries.

When Lana Lewis’ best — and most difficult — employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café’s chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil’s Beach, Lana’s normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio “Fab” Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he’s found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana’s café, she becomes the prime suspect.


Even the island’s handsome police chief isn’t quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn’t the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach.


With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana’s prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer. After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship — or will she come to a bitter end?

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  BookDepository  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook

Advance Praise

“Lana’s voyage of self-discovery, along with her New Age-y father, quirky hire Erica, and feisty puppy Stanley, portend future fun for readers.”
Publishers Weekly
“A good read for a chilly weekend indoors.” 
New York Journal of Books
“Lush manages to braid the Florida-osity of things into a solid murder mystery…A compelling read.”
The Gabber
“A wonderful series debut that is a silky-smooth blend of humor, mystery and romance with a feisty heroine and a delicious island setting.”
—Peg Cochran, USA Today bestselling author
“It doesn’t matter if you like your coffee hot or cold, you’ll love Grounds for Murder. Tara Lush brings the quirky town of Devil’s Beach to life. You can almost smell the coffee and feel the heat. A sure winner!”
—Joyce Tremel, author, Brewing Trouble mysteries
“A most delightful addition to your cozy mystery library.”
—Harper Kincaid, author, To Kill a Mocking Girl 
“Tara Lush brews a fun Florida mystery, topped with a sweet frothy romance. Enjoy this blend of sunshine and quirky characters.”
—Elaine Viets, award-winning author, Dead-End Job mysteries

Meet The Author

Tara Lush is a Florida-based novelist and journalist. She’s an RWA Rita finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and the winner of the George C. Polk award for environmental journalism. For the past decade, she’s been a reporter with The Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations. Tara is a fan of vintage pulp fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, 1980s fashion, tropical chill, kombucha, gin, tonic, seashells, true crime podcasts, Art Deco, telenovelas, street art, coconut anything, strong coffee, and newspapers. She lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband and two dogs.



Connect to the author via her Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

This book spotlight brought to you by Meryl Moss Media

Book Spotlight: A DEADLY EDITION by Victoria Gilbert


A Deadly Edition: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery

by Victoria Gilbert

About A Deadly Edition

Cozy Mystery

5th in Series

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books 

Release Date: December 8, 2020

Hardcover: 368 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1643854762

Kindle ASIN: B085N3KN7L


Purchase Links:  Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound

“‘Til death do us part’ could be closer than the bride realizes in Victoria Gilbert’s tantalizing fifth Blue Ridge Library mystery.”

The pursuit to acquire a rare illustrated book turns deadly, and on the eve of her upcoming wedding, library director Amy Webber is drawn into a web of treachery and betrayal that could derail her happy day–and maybe just claim her life.

Planning a wedding can be murder–sometimes literally. At a party celebrating their upcoming nuptials, Taylorsford, Virginia library director Amy Webber and her fiancé Richard Muir discover the body of art dealer Oscar Selvaggio–a bitter rival of their host, Kurt Kendrick.

Both had been in a heated battle to purchase a rare illustrated volume created by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, so suspicion immediately falls upon Kurt. Amy knows that Kurt has a closet-full of skeletons from his past–but she can’t believe he’s guilty of murder.

Amidst an avalanche of wedding preparations, Amy begins an investigation with the help of her aunt Lydia Talbot and the new mayor of Taylorsford, Sunshine “Sunny” Fields. Much to Lydia’s dismay, her boyfriend, art expert Hugh Chen, becomes convinced of Kurt’s guilt and launches an investigation of his own. As the case hits painfully close to home, the stakes become impossibly high–and the danger all too real.


About Victoria Gilbert

Raised in a historic small town near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Victoria Gilbert turned her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian.


Victoria writes the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, the Booklover’s B&B series, and the upcoming Hunter and Clewe traditional mystery series for Crooked Lane Books. She has also published fantasy with Snowy Wings Publishing.

A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Victoria is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel. She lives near Winston-Salem, NC with her husband, son, and some very spoiled cats.

Author Links

Website (includes blog): http://victoriagilbertmysteries.com/

Blue Ridge Library Mystery series:

Booklover’s B&B series:

Giveaway

This is a tour-wide giveaway for one (1) print copy of A Deadly Edition by Victoria Gilbert. This giveaway is open to US residents only. If the Rafflecopter form isn’t displayed below, please click here to enter. Void where prohibited.

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS


December 6 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
December 6 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
December 6 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – SPOTLIGHT
December 7 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT
December 7 – CelticLady Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 7 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
December 8 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT
December 8 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 8 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 9 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW
December 9 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST
December 9 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
December 10 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
December 10 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
December 10 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW  
December 11 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT
December 11 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
December 11 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT
December 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
December 12 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 13 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
December 13 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT
December 13 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?


Guest Post: Elena Taylor – ALL WE BURIED


Good day, book people. We’ve made it to the end of another month and the beginning of another seasonal change. Yay us! I often wonder what authors do all day long. Do they have outside jobs? Do they have a strict writing schedule? Do they spend hours reading and performing research? Is everything they encounter in their daily lives fodder for their books? What exactly happens on the average day in an author’s life? Realistically, authors’ daily routines probably differ as much as my daily routine differs from yours. However, I’m pleased to welcome editor, reviewer, blogger, Elena Taylor — author of All We Buried and she has graciously agreed to provide us with a glimpse into her daily routine. Thank you, Ms. Taylor (no relation), for stopping by today and sharing with us.



A Day in The Life of Author Elena Taylor


Polar and CoalTrain take a Break


My dog Polar is a very smart dog. He understands that Dad is up very early, and Mom is up very late. He gets Dad up with the sun for a walk, then he crawls back in bed with me for a little cuddle and a snooze until a reasonable hour.

Once I can open my eyes without a struggle, I like to sit up in bed and read for about an hour. Most of the time it’s a mystery that I’m to review—either as a blogger or for the New York Journal of Books—if it’s not for a review, it’s usually either nonfiction about crime, as research for my next book, or I’m reading for pure fun. 

My reading time is one of the best parts of the day. Outside the window, there’s nothing to see but trees. And the only sound is that of the river running through my backyard. Polar likes to lie against my leg and I’m often visited by a cat or two. I have a cup of coffee and get myself fully awake to face my writer’s day.

Then I wander down the hall, usually followed by the dog and a cat or two (if you’re sensing a theme here, you’re right!). I get another cup of coffee and head into my office. My office is a small room at the back of the house. I have a window looking out over the river, and an L-shaped desk that I built for the space. Polar fits underneath it perfectly.

The first thing I like to do is work on my own writing. If it’s the first draft, like I’m writing now, I shoot for a certain word count. With my current project that’s 1000 words a day. According to the post-it on my computer, my word count today is 27,968, so in about fifty days I’ll have a full draft of roughly 80,000 words. 

My goal is to finish in the beginning of November.

If I’m working on rewrites, I do a certain number of pages a day. 

That may sound weirdly arbitrary, and it probably is, but for some reason, I have to break my work down like that. I think it has to do with the fact that the industry goes by word count, whereas readers go by pages. For a first draft, I think like the industry and for rewrites, I think like a reader.

After I finish my word or page count, I take a break, have something to eat—by the river if it’s not raining—then I come back to my computer and work on client projects. I often find a cat under my desk waiting for my return.

One of the other hats I wear is that of a developmental editor, I look at big picture stuff on works-in-progress. Everything from story structure to pace to dialogue to character development as well as specific quirks every writer has. As I work, I often see kayakers float past the house and a lot of squirrels run around in the trees. It’s pretty exciting out here in Snoqualmie Valley.

Throughout the day I take mini breaks for coffee and catch up on social media. I respond to emails and generate content for my newsletter. And play with the cats and the dog. The dog is good about sleeping next to me, the cats like to climb around on my desk and require more attention, but they are so cute I get sucked in every time. 

Then comes my favorite part of the daily routine. In the afternoon I head over to the stables where we board our horses. It’s a bit of a drive, but the location is totally worth it. I catch up on the day’s news with NPR on the radio and let myself shift from fiction to the real world.

I spend an hour or two (or three) getting the horses out. In warm weather there are baths, in cold weather, I hang out with them in their shed to stay out of the rain. Living in Western Washington, “Mud” is considered a season. 

My two geldings are hilarious, Radar, the youngest, likes to play with traffic cones and will grab one in his mouth and run around with it. Our older horse Jasper is a regal Palomino Paint who rules the pasture like a benign dictator. He loves to graze and never misses a chance for snacks—a characteristic he and I have in common.

Back home my day varies depending on deadlines and how much I accomplished in the morning. Sometimes I work later into the evening, sometimes I only work another hour or so. Mostly I do the business side of writing. I write blog posts and book reviews. I put together mailings for reviewers or do other things related to promotions. 

In the winter it will already be dark, making me want to eat soup and join the entire family, four-legged and two, in bed. In the summertime, our beautiful northern latitude keeps it light until ten o’clock, and I feel a little guilty if I don’t work later. 

In the evenings, I have to admit, I love to watch television. I’m a sucker for TV mysteries. Grantchester, Frankie Drake, and Endeavor are some of my recent indulgences. I also finally watched Downton Abbey. I was late to the party, but I’m glad I waited. I absolutely loved it and binging it took my mind off our current situation.

Oh, and I bake too much. Nothing smells better than fresh bread and I have finally discovered the world’s greatest Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. Though just to be sure, I should probably bake another batch or two to make confirm they really are that good.

A friend recently asked me how I come up with the stuff in my novels. The adventures of my characters look nothing like my daily life. I suppose my imagination and my daily life are the yin and yang of my personality. I love adventure with my fiction and peace and quiet in the real world. Other than the occasional attack of my toes by a cat, peace and quiet is exactly how I get to live.

Thanks for hanging out with me today! Now I’ve got to run. The horses are waiting.

Elena 




All We Buried

by Elena Taylor

on Tour September 1-30, 2020

Synopsis:


All We Buried by Elena Taylor

For fans of Julia Keller and Sheena Kamal, All We Buried disturbs the long-sleeping secrets of a small Washington State mountain town.



Interim sheriff Elizabeth “Bet” Rivers has always had one repeat nightmare: a shadowy figure throwing a suspicious object into her hometown lake in Collier, Washington. For the longest time, she chalked it up to an overactive imagination as a kid. Then the report arrives. In the woods of the Cascade mountain range, right in her jurisdiction, a body floats to the surface of Lake Collier. When the body is extricated and revealed, no one can identify Jane Doe. But someone must know the woman, so why aren’t they coming forward?

Bet has been sitting as the interim sheriff of this tiny town in the ill-fitting shoes of her late father and predecessor. With the nightmare on her heels, Bet decided to build a life for herself in Los Angeles, but now it’s time to confront the tragic history of Collier. The more she learns, the more Bet realizes she doesn’t know the townspeople of Collier as well as she thought, and nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.




Book Details:


Genre: Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 1643852914 (ISBN13: 9781643852911)
Series: Sheriff Bet Rivers #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads



Author Bio:


Elena Taylor
PHOTO CREDIT MARK PERLSTEIN

Elena Taylor lives on the banks of the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in a town made famous by Twin Peaks. When she’s not writing or working one-on-one with writers as a developmental editor, she can be found hanging out with her husband, dog, and two cats. Her favorite place to be (besides home) is the stables down the road, with her two horses Radar and Jasper.


Catch Up With Elena Taylor On:




Tour Participants:

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 Elena Taylor. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on September 1, 2020, and runs through October 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.


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Book Showcase: LITTLE FALLS by Elizabeth Lewes


Little Falls

by Elizabeth Lewes

on Tour September 1 – October 31, 2020



Synopsis:


Little Falls by Elizabeth Lewes


She tried to forget the horrors of war–but her quiet hometown conceals a litany of new evils.

Sergeant Camille Waresch did everything she could to forget Iraq. She went home to Eastern Washington and got a quiet job. She connected with her daughter, Sophie, whom she had left as a baby. She got sober. But the ghosts of her past were never far behind.

While conducting a routine property tax inspection on an isolated ranch, Camille discovers a teenager’s tortured corpse hanging in a dilapidated outbuilding. In a flash, her combat-related PTSD resurges–and in her dreams, the hanging boy merges with a young soldier whose eerily similar death still haunts her. The case hits home when Sophie reveals that the victim was her ex-boyfriend–and as Camille investigates, she uncovers a tangled trail that leads to his jealous younger brother and her own daughter, wild, defiant, and ensnared.

The closer Camille gets to the truth, the closer she is driven to the edge. Her home is broken into. Her truck is blown up. Evidence and witnesses she remembers clearly are erased. And when Sophie disappears, Camille’s hunt for justice becomes a hunt for her child. At a remote compound where the terrifying truth is finally revealed, Camille has one last chance to save her daughter–and redeem her own shattered soul.




Praise for Little Falls:



“The tight, well-constructed plot complements the searing portrait of Camille as she deals with the guilt she feels over her daughter and her general rage at the world.”
Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review



Little Falls snaps with suspense from beginning to end. With skilled execution of setting and plot, Elizabeth Lewes shuttles the reader between continents on a thrilling journey that reveals haunting secrets. I couldn’t put this book down!”
—Margaret Mizushima, author of the award-winning Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, including Hanging Falls

“A dark, dangerous read populated by distinct, well-drawn characters. The tormented heroine is a woman on the edge and fascinating in her unpredictability. You’re rooting for her, afraid for her, but never fully confident that she won’t succumb to her multiple demons. There is a desperate sense of urgency right up until the very end.”
—P. J. Tracy, New York Times bestselling author of the Monkeewrench series


Book Details:


Genre: Mystery, Rural Noir
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: August 11th 2020
Number of Pages: 311
ISBN: 1643855069 (ISBN13: 9781643855066)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads




Read an excerpt:





I remember fragments: the color of the desert burning, the smell of the blood drying in the sun, the sound of the glass shattering under fire. Never what happened after. Rarely what happened before.

But sometimes … sometimes, I remember everything. Time slows, crystallizes. I see everything, I smell everything, I hear everything. I feel everything.

Then something… snaps. Fragments.

It just happened. Here. In the barn. Flakes of snow are melting on my jacket; they’re damp on my numb fingers. It happened when he looked up, when he turned toward me, when I saw her blood matted in his long hair, his hand on her face.

Then I fired

This is what happened before.

1



Dust: long, fat streamers of it rose from the wheels of my truck as I drove up into the hills of Jeremy Leamon’s ranch. It was dry that Friday, dry as early August in Okanogan County usually is, but Leamon’s black steers were still bent low in the parched pastures, scrounging for tufts of yellow grass under the orange morning sun. The windows in the truck were down, and I was tapping my fingernails on the window frame, but not to the beat of the honky-tonk on the radio.

An outcrop shot up out of the pasture and became a ridge. I steered the truck around it, bounced over the stones that had crumbled off, and powered through a mess of tree roots and washouts that made the steering column jerk and the axles whine. Not long after the truck stopped bucking, an outbuilding peeked out of the stand of ponderosa pines that washed down the hillside. Its corrugated steel paneling and wooden barn door had seen better days. Hell, better decades. But the thick padlock on the door was shiny and new.

Suspicious? Yeah.

The country is not that peaceful, you know. Drugs—we got plenty. Prostitution, too. And guns. Jesus Christ, do we have guns. In the years I had been inspecting properties for the County Assessor’s Office, I had seen more than my fair share out on the back roads, in the hidden valleys, and in forgotten forest clearings just like the one I found that day on the edge of Jeremy Leamon’s property. That’s why I carried my official ID in my pocket and my unofficial Glock in my right hand. Why I let the truck roll through the potholes until I turned a bend, then switched off the ignition and listened long and hard before I got out to take a look.

I remember that when my boots hit the ground, puffs of yellow dirt rose around my ankles, drifted on air heavy with the smell of sunburned pine needles: dry, hot, resinous. The smell of summer. The smell of fire.

I padded through the trees. A hundred yards in, I saw the back end of the building above me on the hill. I came up on the south side and approached the tree line, then doubled back to the north side. No sounds from the building, not even the whisper of a ventilation fan. So why lock it up, all the way out here in the hills?

My finger slipped closer to the Glock’s trigger.

Slowly, cautiously, I approached the building. There was only the one door and no windows. No way to see what the padlock was protecting. But as I rounded a corner, a gust of wind blew through the trees, and a steel panel on the side of the building swayed with it. I held my breath, waited for some sound, some shout, from inside the building. When it didn’t come, I caught the edge of the panel with the toe of my boot. It swung out easily, and daylight shot through holes where nails had once secured it to the building’s wooden skeleton.

Inside was a stall for an animal, a horse maybe. Beyond it, open space, sunlight pouring through a hole in the roof onto messy stacks of last year’s hay. The air glittered with dust and stank of decay, the funk of rot. But there was something else there too, something sweet and high and spoiled. And buzzing, buzzing that filled my ears, that vibrated my brain …

I ducked under the steel panel and clambered in, breathing shallowly. Holding my weapon at the ready, I rounded the corner of the stall, and then I saw him.

Hanging

Hanging from a loop of braided wire stretched over a wooden beam. His fingers were at his neck, but not to scratch it or run over his scant, patchy beard. They were stuck. Stuck in the noose. Stuck when he’d clawed at it, tried to pry it away, tried to make room to breathe.

I’m sure he tried.

Because he hadn’t jumped: there was no chair, no ladder. Nothing kicked away, nothing standing.

Nothing but the kid and the flies.

* * *

I don’t remember much of what happened next, but I know I went back to the truck, and I must have made a call. Because I know I watched the helicopter erupt over the rock and sweep down the hillside and land in the track I had driven down. And I can still feel the dirt from the downwash blasting my face and the icy cold steel of the stairs when I pulled them out just after the bird settled on the ground. And I remember not understanding why everyone was acting so strange, why the doctor set down her things in slow motion, and the pilot just switched off the bird and strolled to the trees to light up a smoke and why both of them were so casual, like they were going to the park. But then I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I turned around. And everything snapped into focus.

Sergeant Darren Moses. My God, you should have seen him that day, in his mirrored sunglasses and chocolate-brown uniform, his black buzz cut and those high Indian cheekbones. He was always good looking-even when we were kids—but I guess I hadn’t seen him for a while.

He asked me how I was, reached out and touched my shoulder again, looked concerned. I had on this green tank top, and the rough pads of his fingers were cool against my skin. He was standing close, almost intimately, his aftershave musky and faint. But I stood there and watched my reflection in his sunglasses and was an asshole.

“I’m glad to see the Sheriff’s Office hasn’t cleaned out the stables yet.”

Darren laughed, smiled broadly, his teeth flashing white in the sun. “You know I’m the kind of shit that sticks to the floor.”

He moved his hand away. My shoulder was suddenly cold. I smiled, tried to laugh, then grabbed another bag instead.

Darren held out his hand to take it. “You don’t have to haul our gear, Camille.”

I shrugged. “May as well. I’m here.” “Really.” “It’s not a big deal.” Darren’s smile disappeared.

“I’m sorry. I need you to stay here.”

My fingers tightened on the handle of the black Sheriff’s Office duffel. “What are you talking about?”

“I can’t let you into the crime scene.”

I shook my head. “I’ve already seen it. My fibers or whatever you’re worried about are already in there.”

“It’s procedure,” Darren said, his shoulders lifting slightly. “No exceptions, not even for old friends.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“And you’ve had a shock. Listen-Lucky’s on his way up here. He took a truck so he could stop and talk to Leamon. He can take you back into town, and I’ll drive your truck down after we’re done.”

I frowned. “What? No.”

“Camille. If you’re right and he’s…” “Hey, Moses!” someone shouted.

I spun toward the building and saw a second officer standing by the peeled-back panel of corrugated steel: Deputy Jesus Moreno. His voice tight and flat and deathly calm, he said: “You need to see this.”

Darren took the duffle from my hand and jogged over to the building. I followed. I’m not good at following orders. Never have been.

Inside the building, the two men stood side by side, their chins lifted, their eyes fixed on the corpse. Moreno was frowning, his arms crossed over his chest. He looked like a man at a museum: interested, but removed, distant. Darren looked like a man taking it personally. His jaw was clenched, his neck rigid, his thumb twitching on the safety catch of his holster.

In the corner, the medical examiner—a small woman with graying curls—busily set out her equipment on a bale of hay she’d draped with a white sheet. When she turned, she was zipping a white jumpsuit closed over a blue buttondown shirt.

“It’s just decomposition, gentlemen,” the examiner said. “Part of the natural process.”

“How long would you say?” Darren asked, still studying the corpse. “Three or four days,” I said without thinking.

Darren shot me a look and started to say something, probably to tell me I was violating his procedure, to threaten me with arrest if I didn’t get out of his crime scene. But the examiner was faster.

“Yes.” She adjusted her glasses, squinted at the body, then said slowly, like she was really thinking about it: “It’s been hot-hot enough for that much bloating-and the maggots are pretty far along. So, yes, that’s a fair assessment.”

Darren glanced from me to the examiner and back again, then opened his mouth.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me, Sergeant?” the examiner said.

For a moment, Darren was caught between irritation and manners. He was staring at me like I had strung up the kid myself, his eyes dark and intense, a vein in his neck jumping. The examiner was staring at him like he was a naughty schoolboy.

“Doctor Marguerite Fleischman, Camille Waresch,” Darren said. “Camille found the body this morning, Doc. She works for the County Assessor’s Office.”

“And?” the doctor said, looking over her wire rims at Darren.

“And she’s leaving,” he said, taking a step forward, one hand reaching toward my arm.

The examiner raised her hand to him. “Not until she answers my questions,” she said, then turned to me. “How is it you know the body’s been there for three or four days?”

I shrugged. “Just a guess.”

“Camille was a medic, Doc,” Darren said through gritted teeth. “She was in Iraq.”

I clenched my jaw, looked away. “And Afghanistan.” “I see.”

Doctor Fleischman pulled on a pair of latex gloves, snapping them against her wrists. Then she squatted and rifled through one of her bags. When she stood, she was holding a notebook and pen out to me.

“My recorder is broken. You remember how to take notes?”

We had been at it for a couple of hours when a truck pulled up outside. The engine died and one door, then another, slammed. I stood up quickly and backed toward the wall, skittish, my eyes on the big door by the road.

“I’m telling you,” a male voice said outside, his voice escalating from exasperation to anger.

“That ain’t my building. I don’t know what your problem is, but it ain’t mine.”

Leamon, Jeremy Leamon. My dad had known him. I had knocked on his front door and chatted with him about the weather that morning when I arrived at the property for the inspection.

“All right,” another man said in this sort of soothing, persuasive voice, the kind of voice you want in commercials for condoms or caramels. Lucky Phillips, it had to be. He was Darren’s partner back then. And he was an outsider, one of the few people who’d moved into the Okanogan instead of out.

“I believe you, Jeremy,” Lucky said. “But you know I’m a curious kind of guy—I just want to see if any of these keys work.”

“It ain’t mine,” Leamon growled, but there was panic in his voice.

Someone thumped the door and fiddled with the padlock, its steel loop rattling against the cleats on the door. The door jerked open, sliding to the side on the top rail. Lucky stepped into the doorway, all tall and broad in his brown uniform and flaming orange hair. And beside him, his arm clamped in one of Lucky’s big hands, was Jeremy Leamon, a man with too much denim wrinkled around his body and a halo of gray stubble on top of his head.

“What’s that then, Jeremy?” Lucky asked, still cool, still smooth.

Leamon ducked out of Lucky’s grip, his gnarled, liver-spotted hands clenched in enormous fists. But Lucky was younger and faster. He stepped forward, taking the older man’s arm and spinning him, forcing him to look into the building, to look at the body still hanging from the beam, still crawling with flies, dripping slowly onto the packed earth floor.

Leamon staggered back. “What is that?”

“What do you mean?” Lucky said in mock surprise. “You aren’t going to introduce us to your new neighbor?”

“Neighbor?” Leamon’s face went white as butcher paper, his knees wavered and shook. He shoved Lucky to one side and, bent double, ran outside, his hand clamped to his mouth as he began to retch.

* * *

Later, much later, I could still smell the decay, hear the smack of flies against the inside of the plastic body bag after Moreno finally cut the kid down and zipped him up. I was fine when they loaded him into the helicopter, fine when Darren asked me how I was for the second time that day. He said he knew I’d seen things before, but did I want someone to drive me to my place? I shook my head again, told him no. Then he climbed into the helicopter and I stowed the stairs, and I was fine until the bird disappeared over the rock, until even the sound of its rotors faded away, and I was alone again, alone in the narrow track, dust clinging to my jeans and caked in my hair.

That’s when the shaking started.

I fell to my knees and tried to not let it happen, but sometimes it just does. Sometimes the movie inside my head just won’t stop, and I see the sniper bullet blow off half that staff sergeant’s skull, see that corporal go limp on the table in the field hospital when everything went wrong, see that lieutenant’s eyes gazing blindly into the deep, blue desert sky while his blood sank into the sand. And then the mortar rounds, the streaks of fire in the night sky, the staccato burst of AK-47s in the bone-dry morning, the sudden sick rocking of an IED going off under the tires of the forward Humvee.

After some time—God knows how long—I stood up and half-stumbled, half-ran to my truck and threw myself into the cab, then tore down the mountain faster than I should have. The assessment didn’t matter; the rocks slamming against the chassis didn’t matter; the cattle scattering wildly at the reckless rumble of the truck didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was getting out.

I still don’t know how I got back that day. I just remember looking out the window of my one-bedroom apartment, my hair wet, my skin raw from the shower, watching people drive into the gravel lot below, go into the mart—my mart; felt strange to remember that, to remember that my father had bought it for me when I came home from the desert for the last time, that it was supposed to be my unwanted salvation-then leave again, a half rack of beer or a gallon of milk in hand. Across the street, my neighbor’s trees, their leaves still green, waved in the heat rising off the pavement of the two-lane road that went through my two-street town. Behind them, behind the trees, the hill rose yellow and pale, dried-out green, the dirt streaked with orange. Like it was rusting.

Numb. I was numb. That’s how it is at first. First bomb. First kill. You’re scared out of your mind, scared straight. Get shit done, accomplish the mission. And then—it gets quiet. You’re out, you’re back at base. You’re safe. And then numb. It’s like floating, and nothing can touch you, nothing can make you feel. You’re floating through the day, through the tour, through life. Then someone shoots down your balloon and it’s all pain.

Most days, I miss the desert. But what I really miss is that numb.

* * *

As the shadows were lengthening, a key turned in the front door.

I was sitting at the scuffed kitchen table, staring at the property report for Jeremy Leamon’s ranch in the black binder I’d had with me on-site that morning. My hair was dry and sticking to the sweat on my neck, so it must have been awhile since I had gotten back. I leapt to my feet-bare feet grabbed the Glock, cocked it, and held it down, but ready, my index finger hovering next to the trigger. God, I must have looked insane when the door opened and my teenage daughter walked in.

“Uh, hi,” Sophie said and dropped her backpack on the floor. “Hi,” I said without breathing.

“What’s with you?”

Sophie sauntered into the kitchen. Hastily, I slid the Glock under the county map draped over the table.

“Nothing.”

Across the narrow room, Sophie raised her eyebrows. I looked away, my jaw clenched. Be calm. Be normal.

“How was work?” I said, trying and failing. “Okay.”

Sophie opened the fridge, rummaged, smacked things around until she found the last can of soda.

“Crystal was okay?”

“Yeah, Crystal was okay.” Sophie stood up, closed the fridge, and popped open her drink.

“Roseann dropped you off?” She paused. “I asked if Roseann dropped you off.” “No,” she snapped, her back still toward me. I ground my teeth.

“She had to go to Coulee City for something,” Sophie said before I could open my mouth. “She said she wouldn’t be back until late.”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

“I got home.” Sophie hesitated, her back stiffened. “I mean, I got back okay, didn’t I?”

And that was it, really. Home. Her home was my home: the white farmhouse I had grown up in, the same place she had grown up after I left her to join the Army and then after I came back, when it was too much for me to take care of myself and take care of her too. And it had stayed that way, me in the apartment over the mart, her and my father in the old farmhouse thirty miles away. Until he died that May. After that, home was … well, not my apartment.

“Who brought you?” I asked as evenly as I could. “Who brought you back?”

“A friend.”

Sophie turned quickly and stalked past me until, like a toy tied to her with string, I sprang up and reached out to grab her. But then she stopped and the string broke. My hand snapped back.

“Who?” I insisted, my voice cracking with the strain of holding back the fury, the anxiety and fear.

“Just a friend.”

“A name. Give me a name.”

Sophie glared at me, then bent to pick up her backpack. I rushed forward and put myself in her path. Her brown eyes—flecked with gold like mine-flashed dangerously, just like her father’s had when he’d been pushed too far. Just like mine must have too.

“Jason,” Sophie said through clenched teeth. “Jason Sprague.” I stared her down. “Never heard of him.”

“You wouldn’t have,” she sneered. But then she dropped her eyes, dropped her head, and a lock of dark hair fell over her forehead.

“Granddad thought he was okay.”

She said it so quietly, almost reverently, her eyes so downcast that her long lashes fanned over her cheeks. Even I felt tears welling. But my father thought everyone was okay; he was everyone’s hero. And here’s the thing, here’s what I had learned about being a mother during those few months that Sophie and I had been the only ones left: your kid is the predator and you are the prey. They smell blood. They smell fear. And then—just then Sophie was playing with her food.

“Fine,” I said, biting off the word. “I’ll meet him next time.”

I let her push past me. She slammed the bedroom door behind her; I stomped to the kitchen, poured a glass of water, and took it to the table.

Hours later, I was still there, trying to write my report about Leamon’s ranch on my laptop when Sophie burst out of the bedroom. Her eyes were wild, and her long black hair flew behind her as she darted to the front door.

“Where are you going?” I demanded, rising from the table.

Sophie was pulling on her shoes, didn’t even glance up when she said, “To Tracy’s.”

“Why?”

“I just am,” she said dismissively, snarling in that way that burned through all my nerves.

“No.” Pulling the laces tight, her face away from me, she muttered, “Fuck
you.”

In the blink of an eye, I was standing over her, the muscles in my arms screaming against the force it took to hold back my fists. “Stop.”

Her head jerked up: trails of tears streaked down her face, smeared mascara haloed her eyes.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” she shouted.

The heat of her anguish drove me back to the kitchen counter. Fury I could deal with, but anything else, anything more … My chest tightened, my vision narrowed, darkened. Pinholed. I closed my eyes, shook my head, pushed down all the thoughts, the impulses, and the screams.

And when I opened my eyes, there was just Sophie. On the ground. Crying and tying her shoes like a child. My child. I dropped to my knees.

“What’s going on, Sophie?” I said quietly, tentatively. “Why are you, why do you need to go to Tracy’s right now? It’s late.”

“Because,” she wailed, then breathed deeply, the air shuddering in her chest. “Because Patrick is dead.”

I shook my head. “Patrick?”

“Yeah, Patrick.”

“Okay.” I nodded. “Who is Patrick?”

“A friend,” Sophie said impatiently. She scrambled to her feet, grabbed her bag.

“A friend.”

Sophie wove to push past me; I wove too, pushing back.

“Like Jason?” I said too sharply.

Sophie’s eyes flashed through her tears. “No. He’s my-he’s just a really good friend. From school.”

“From school,” I repeated, trying to keep myself in check.

Sophie rolled her eyes. “I mean, he just graduated in May.”

What?

“Patrick?” I whispered, looking past Sophie, looking over her shoulder into the distance where I could still see a male, his bloated body black and purple with pooled blood, patches of peach fuzz on his face, hanging at the end of a length of braided wire.

“Yeah, Patrick!” Sophie hitched up her backpack. Fresh tears were puddling in her eyes, her shoulders were tense. “He hasn’t been around for a couple of weeks and now—” Her shoulders rose, her voice shuddered. “And now someone found him up in the hills and he’s … he’s dead.”

My heartbeat quickened. “What do you mean in the hills? Where?” “I don’t know! Why would I know? Tracy just called me, okay?”

But I couldn’t believe the kid that morning had been Sophie’s friend, that the casualty was that close. I couldn’t believe the medical examiner would have released an identification that early, that she could even know yet who the dead boy was. And why would some kid—why would Sophie’s friend-know about it anyway?

Then everything sort of slowed down, came into focus: the tears on Sophie’s cheeks crept down to her jaw, the smell of her shampoo-green apple-filled my nostrils; the dim light from the lamp by the sofa was suddenly blinding.

“Who found him?” I asked, my voice sounding tinny and distant in my ears.

“I don’t know!” Sophie was shrieking now, her voice echoing in my brain, overloading every circuit. “How would I know?”

“How old was he?” I said urgently. “How old was Patrick?”

“It doesn’t matter; he’s dead!” She tore my fingers from her arms, even though I didn’t remember—don’t remember-grabbing her.

“Tell me.”

“Nineteen, okay?” Released, Sophie lunged for the door. “He just turned nineteen!”

Nineteen.

I had written nineteen on Doctor Fleischman’s yellow notepad that morning.

“Victim is a Caucasian male, approximately nineteen to twenty-two years of age,” she had said from her perch on the ladder. “Death likely caused by asphyxiation, likely involuntary hanging, but” —she had leaned closer, peering through a magnifying glass at the discolored skin on the kid’s chest— “what appear to be electrical burns were inflicted to the torso prior to death. Two, maybe three days prior.”

She had pulled back then and shifted her attention downward. “Other indications of torture include nails missing from digits two through four of the right hand, pre-mortem bruising and lacerations on the left side of the face, including the eye …”

Downstairs, the heavy steel door slammed.

* * *

I waited for Sophie to come back, waited while I was stretched out, rigid, on the couch, with my jeans on and my boots lined up on the floor by my feet. All the lights in the apartment were off, so I studied the ridges and valleys on the ceiling by the yellow light of the sodium streetlamp.

Around two, I heard footsteps on the gravel in the parking lot, and then the door downstairs opened. She crept up quietly; I smiled because it sounded like she’d even taken off her shoes. When her key turned in the lock of the apartment door, I threw my arm over my eyes and pretended to sleep.

Later, I crept to her door and opened it silently. Inside, the bedroom that had always been bare when it was mine was now anything but. Clothes were scattered everywhere, books were stacked in uneven piles. Sophie’s pink backpack had been slung onto the chipped wooden desk. In the middle of it all was the girly white bed my parents had bought her for Christmas one year when I couldn’t-or wouldn’t-come home. She lay on the covers, curled in the fetal position, her hair tied up in a messy bun, her hands balled up under her chin.

I walked into the room, fighting the urge to pick up the mess, and watched her in the light that seeped through the thin, frilly white curtains that had once hung at the window of the bedroom we had both spent our childhoods in. At just barely fifteen, she still looked like the child I had watched growing up during visits two or three times a week for years. Her cheeks were thinning but were still rounded; the skin on her arms peeking out from under her T-shirt was still silky and down covered. Regret surged through my body as though it were a physical force—a shock wave. I closed my eyes to keep it in.

When I opened them again, the first thing I saw were the freckles sprinkled over her nose and cheeks. She looked like her Colville father, like Oren, with her dark hair and pale brown skin and almond eyes. Only her freckles were me.

Her phone, clutched in her hand, buzzed. She stirred but didn’t wake. I glanced at the screen, then did a double-take. The phone background was of her and a boy. He was a little older than her, but sort of wholesome-looking—if you looked past their glassy eyes and flyaway hair and flushed cheeks. I thought I recognized the boy, imagined there was some resemblance there to the kid who had been hanging in Jeremy Leamon’s barn. But then the screen went dark, and I glanced back at my daughter, her rounded cheeks not so childlike, her arms more sinew than down. And I looked past the freckles and saw a lot more of me.

***



Excerpt from Little Falls by Elizabeth Lewes.  Copyright © 2020 by Elizabeth Lewes. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Lewes. 
All rights reserved.





Author Bio:


Elizabeth Lewes

Elizabeth Lewes is a veteran of the United States Navy who served during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. An analyst and linguist by training, she now practices law in Seattle. Little Falls is her debut novel.


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Guest Post: Elena Taylor – ALL WE BURIED


Hello, my bookish divas and divos. I hope you’re all staying safe at home during these trying times. For those of you that are still out working, first, thank you for your service and second please stay safe! 


If you’re anything like me, you probably wonder just how much research an author puts into their books whether it’s historical fiction, suspense, or a police procedural. I’m especially curious about research into the latter category if the author has never been in law enforcement because I have a brother and several relatives in law enforcement and I know that the public never truly knows what goes on behind-the-scenes (sometimes it is for the protection of the public — we don’t really NEED to know everything that’s going on — and sometimes it is for the protection of the innocent or even law enforcement and they often deserve the consideration!). Today, I’m pleased to welcome Elena Taylor, author of the newly released All We Buried, who will be discussing her thoughts on research from the perspective as a crime writer. Thank you, Ms. Taylor, for stopping by today and sharing with us. I look forward to hearing what you have to say and will be putting All We Buried on my TBR list!




A Crime Writer’s Thoughts on Research


Research is one of my favorite aspects of writing a novel. I love to research before and during the writing process. 

There are multiple areas to research for any given novel. Some of the ones I enjoy the most are: location and homicide investigation/police procedure.

Location

What makes location so much fun is it can include travel and onsite research along with internet searches and travel books.

My first series, the Eddie Shoes Mysteries, is set in Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham, a small college town near the Canadian border, is about a ninety-minute drive from my house, so it was easy to drive up and visit.

I’ve gone in search of the best places to get a margarita and where to hide a dead body. I also sent my private eye on vacation for book three because I couldn’t justify too many murders in a town that rarely sees more than one murder a year, and got to do similar research in the charming, tourist town of Leavenworth, Washington. 

With All We Buried, I got to pick a new location for the novel. Hoping it’s the start of a series, I decided to set it in a fictional town that I can continue to discover and develop in future books. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do onsite research. 

Collier, Washington, is based on real places: the town of Roslyn, Washington, and a stretch of “highway” called “Old Blewett Pass Road.”

Roslyn is about an hour’s drive from my house, up and over Snoqualmie Pass, taking me from the wetter, western side of the Cascade Mountain Range to the drier eastern side.

Roslyn, made famous by the TV show, Northern Exposure, is a quaint town built on mining, just like Collier. The details I’ve included in my novel are things like the architecture and an incredible, historic cemetery, along with aspects of locations around town.

One of the primary differences with my fictional town, however, is Roslyn sits just off Highway 90, the main east/west corridor across the state. To get to Collier, you have to drive north from I-90 and head up into the mountains.

The choice to put Collier far away from the main interstate and any other towns was designed to add tension and danger for my characters. But I never imagined while I was writing the novel that the road to Collier actually exists.

And doing research, I found it.  

Old Blewitt Road twists its way up into the Cascade Mountains. It’s basically a single lane. With epic drop-offs into picturesque valleys full of ponderosa pines and no sounds save the singing of birds and the sighing of wind.

This is why I love to go onsite for research into location. Sometimes the real thing and the fiction I’ve created are a lot closer than I could have hoped. Both adding to the detail I can include in my books and inspirations for the next one.

Homicide Investigation/Police Procedures

I’m fascinated by homicide investigations. The science behind fingerprinting and autopsies and DNA testing are far more complicated than Hollywood would have us believe. 

I watch Forensic Files and read books on crime scene investigation for fun.

But even more important to me, are the human beings behind the science and protocol of police investigations.

While I run a lot of technical stuff past my experts, I’m also curious about the human side of things. Like, what makes police detectives tick?

One of my favorite aspects about meetings with my police expert is after we’ve talked through the details I’ve written about police procedures, I usually ask him questions like “do you ever get used to seeing an autopsy?”

These little personal details can help round out my characters, making them feel like genuine people, not just cardboard cutouts.

My expert’s personal reactions often surprise me, as he thinks about things that I would never consider, with details I could never imagine. 

My notebook comes home full of scribbles about crime scene investigation and interviewing techniques when talking to a suspect, but my double underlines are often on the information about his emotional reactions to things.

The perfect blending of accuracy in procedures balanced out with human responses is part of what I think makes my stories feel “real”, even if I sometimes get the details wrong.

The hardest part about research can be knowing what questions to ask. We don’t know what we don’t know until someone points out what we didn’t know.

But that usually just makes me strive harder in the next book.

It’s what got me to a basics of pistol shooting class and reading the textbook for individuals on the police force who want to become detectives.

Who knows what I’ll get into for the next manuscript?

I just promise I’ll keep my research on the right side of the law. 

Want to know the answer from my police expert about getting used to autopsies? You’ll just have to read my next novel and see if you can determine fact from fiction. Or maybe it’s a little bit of both.






All We Buried: A Sheriff Bet Rivers Mystery

by Elena Taylor

About All We Buried


All We Buried: A Sheriff Bet Rivers Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (April 7, 2020)
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1643852914
ISBN-13: 978-1643852911
Digital ASIN: B07RQH353V


For fans of Julia Keller and Sheena Kamal, All We Buried disturbs the long-sleeping secrets of a small Washington State mountain town.

Interim sheriff Elizabeth “Bet” Rivers has always had one repeat nightmare: a shadowy figure throwing a suspicious object into her hometown lake in Collier, Washington. For the longest time, she chalked it up to an overactive imagination as a kid. Then the report arrives. In the woods of the Cascade mountain range, right in her jurisdiction, a body floats to the surface of Lake Collier. When the body is extricated and revealed, no one can identify Jane Doe. But someone must know the woman, so why aren’t they coming forward?

Bet has been sitting as the interim sheriff of this tiny town in the ill-fitting shoes of her late father and predecessor. With the nightmare on her heels, Bet decided to build a life for herself in Los Angeles, but now it’s time to confront the tragic history of Collier. The more she learns, the more Bet realizes she doesn’t know the townspeople of Collier as well as she thought, and nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.


Purchase Links:

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About the Author

CREDIT MARK PERLSTEIN

Elena Taylor spent several years working in theater as a playwright, director, designer, and educator before turning her storytelling skills to fiction. Her first series, the Eddie Shoes Mysteries, written under the name Elena Hartwell, introduced a quirky mother/daughter crime-fighting duo. With All We Buried, Elena returns to her dramatic roots and brings readers a much more serious and atmospheric novel. Located in her beloved Washington State, Elena uses her connection to the environment to produce a forbidding story of small-town secrets and things that won’t stay buried. Elena is also a senior editor with Allegory Editing, a developmental editing house, where she works one-on-one with writers to shape and polish manuscripts, short stories, and plays. If you’d like to work with Elena, visit www.allegoryediting.com.When she’s not writing or coaching writing, her favorite place to be is at the farm with her horses, Jasper and Radar, or at her home, on the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in North Bend, Washington, with her husband, their dog, Polar, and their cats, Coal Train and Cocoa. Elena holds a B.A. from the University of San Diego, an M.Ed. from the University of Washington, Tacoma, and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.


Author Links

Website:  https://www.elenataylorauthor.com/ 
Blog: https://www.elenataylorauthor.com/blog 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElenaTaylorAuthor/ 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Elena_TaylorAut
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19494739.Elena_Taylor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elenataylorauthor


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Book Spotlight: READ AND BURIED by Eva Gates



Read and Buried:

A Lighthouse Library Mystery
by Eva Gates


About Read and Buried


Read and Buried: A Lighthouse Library Mystery

Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Crooked Lane Books (October 15, 2019)
Hardcover: 325 Pages
ISBN-10: 1643852337
ISBN-13: 9781643852331
Digital ISBN: 9781643852348
Digital ASIN: B07P9MQV3F




Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo eBooks


Librarian Lucy Richardson unearths a mysterious map dating back to the Civil War. But if she can’t crack its code, she may end up read and buried.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Classic Novel Book Club is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne while workers dig into the earth to repair the Lighthouse Library’s foundations. The digging halts when Lucy pulls a battered tin box containing a Civil War-era diary from the pit. Tucked inside is a hand-drawn map of the Outer Banks accompanied by a page written in an indecipherable code.

The library is overrun by people clamoring to see the artifact. Later that night, Lucy and Connor McNeil find the body of historical society member Jeremy Hughes inside the library. Clearly Jeremy was not the only one who broke into the library–the map and the coded page are missing.

Lucy’s nemesis, Louise Jane McKaughnan, confesses to entering the library after closing to sneak a peek but denies seeing Jeremy–or his killer. When Lucy discovers that fellow-librarian Charlene had a past with Jeremy, she’s forced to do what she vowed not to do–get involved in the case. Meanwhile, the entire library staff and community become obsessed with trying to decode the page. But when the library has a second break in, it becomes clear that someone is determined to solve that code.



About Eva Gates



Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than thirty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library books for Crooked Lane.


Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It crime writing festival. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.


Author Links


         

  • Website: www.vickidelany.com www.facebook.com/evagatesauthor;


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  • Twitter: @vickidelany @evagatesauthor


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  • Instagram: vickidelany





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    2019 Book 270: ICE COLD HEART by P. J. Tracy

    Ice Cold Heart, Monkeewrench #10, by P. J. Tracy 
    ISBN: 9781643851327 (hardcover)
    ISBN: 9781643851334 (ebook)
    ASIN: B07NTX8TGH (Kindle edition)
    Publication date: September 10, 2019 
    Publisher: Crooked Lane Books


    On a bitterly cold winter night, Kelly Ramage leaves her suburban home, telling her husband she’s going to meet a friend.

    She never comes back.

    When her body is discovered, murdered in what seems to be a sex game gone horribly wrong, Detectives Gino and Magozzi take the case, expecting to find a flirtatious trail leading straight to the killer.

    However, Kelly’s sinister lover has done a disturbingly good job of hiding his identity. This isn’t his first victim – and that she won’t be the last…





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    Grace MacBride and Leo Magozzi are enjoying a quiet winter with their lovely five-month-old daughter, Elizabeth. The Monkeewrench gang are also having a blast spoiling the daughter, aka princess, of their friend as well, especially Annie Belinsky and Harley Davidson. Roadrunner, yes that’s his legal name, enjoys the baby, but isn’t quite sure what to do with her just yet. The Monkeewrench team is working on a cryptocurrency theft, while Magozzi and his police partner, Gino Rolseth, are delighting in a homicide-free break. Of course, as soon as Magozzi says he’s enjoying the homicide-free break, a homicide occurs and it does so right after a so-called psychic comes into the station to forwarn him and Gino of an impending murder. The victim was apparently exploring a BDSM relationship outside the boundaries of her marriage and was found handcuffed to a bed, tortured, and her head wrapped in duct tape. The strange thing was that there were no signs of an apparent sexual component. When Magozzi and Gino discover that there was a similar crime over a thousand miles away and it appeared to be linked to an art show that their victim attended they begin to wonder if this is one coincidence too many. Just when it seems like there are too many coincidences and random occurrences happening with this case, Roadrunner saves the life of one of his neighbors who just happens to be a friend of the psychic who just happens to be the next murder victim. What does this all have to do with the strange and twisted art of one seriously introverted artist? What, if anything, ties all of this to a sadistic war criminal in the former Czech Republic? What does cryptocurrency have to do with any of this? Will Magozzi, Gino, and the Monkeewrench crew be able to figure things out before someone else dies or is this criminal too smart and too fast to be caught?

    Grace, Annie, Harley, and Roadrunner have come a long way since the first book in the Monkeewrench series. They are all a bit more trusting of law enforcement and willing to work with agencies across the United States by offering free software to help these agencies stop and capture criminals. Grace is in a stable, romantic relationship and has softened quite a bit since the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth. She still carries a firearm with her at all times, but she’s down to one gun instead of two (massive improvement). Annie and Harley are still at the bickering push-pull stage of their relationship and it is questionable if it will ever develop into anything beyond that. Roadrunner has remained an enigma throughout these books and remains so, but Ice Cold Heart reveals a bit more about his background and softens him quite a bit with his attraction to his neighbor, Petra. Magozzi and Gino are the perfect cop partnership in that they complement one another in almost every way, know each other’s weaknesses, and have one another’s backs when necessary. Ice Cold Heart is the tenth book in the Monkeewrench series and the characters now seem like old friends. I enjoyed the international component to this story with the vicious and sadistic Czech war criminal, the incorporation of the cryptocurrency theft, and of course the ever popular murder, mayhem, mischief, and mystery. For those of you that have read and enjoyed the previous books in the Monkeewrench series, I encourage you to grab a copy of Ice Cold Heart to read. For those of you that have never read the Monkeewrench series but enjoy reading topical mystery thrillers that incorporate a bit of high-tech to spice things up, then I encourage you to add all of the books in this series to your TBR list. I hope there will be more to read in the Monkeewrench series in the future. You know how much I love to reread books, so yes you guessed it, I’ll have to comfort myself by re-reading the entire series from book 1, Monkeewrench through to book 10, Ice Cold Heart while I wait. I only hope you enjoy this series as much as I do. Happy Reading, y’all!

    Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

    Book Spotlight: A CRAFTER HOOKS A KILLER by Holly Quinn


    A Crafter Hooks a Killer:

    A Handcrafted Mystery
    by Holly Quinn

    About the Book



    A Crafter Hooks a Killer: A Handcrafted Mystery
    Cozy Mystery
    2nd in Series
    Crooked Lane Books (June 11, 2019)
    Hardcover 274 Pages
    ISBN-10: 1643850121
    ISBN-13: 978-1643850122
    Digital ASIN: B07MGS1XDW


    Community Craft proprietor Sammy Kane suspects that a tantalizing thread links the deaths of her best friend and a bestselling author. But can she weave together the clues?

    Samantha “Sammy” Kane is settling into her new life in idyllic Heartsford, Wisconsin, running her late friend Kate Allen’s craft shop, Community Craft when one early June day, bestselling crochet author Jane Johnson visits Heartsford. Captivated by Community Craft, Jane devotes a chapter in her new book, Behind the Seams, to the store. Sammy is honored, though satisfaction quickly turns to shock when she finds Jane strangled to death—her cold hands clutching a copy of her most recently published book, with the words “THE END” raggedly scratched into the cover.

    Heavens to Etsy! Not only must Sammy contend with the author’s inauspicious demise, she has to untie some knotty details from her own past. It turns out Kate’s death was not what it seemed, and instead somehow hooked to Jane Johnson’s demise. Handsome Detective Liam Nash is on the “skein”, more than happy to see the shop owner again, if less than enamored by her sleuthing interventions. But this was Sammy’s best friend—she has to know.

    Fortunately, Sammy has a “lace” in the hole. As a child, she formed the S.H.E. detective team with her cousin, Heidi, and her sister, Ellie. Having already reconstituted their partnership, the S.H.E. team searches for a pattern behind the latest death. As the case starts to unravel, will Sammy and team be able to sidestep Liam quick enough to stitch together the clues?


    About the Author



    Holly Quinn has published two stand-alone fiction novels in another persona. She graduated from Carroll University in Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in business and a minor in marketing. This is her second Handcrafted mystery. Visit her @ www.authorhollyquinn.com



    Author Links –

    Website – www.authorhollyquinn.com

    Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HollyQuinnbooks/

    GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7940795.Holly_Quinn

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    Character Guest Post: PAST DUE FOR MURDER by Victoria Gilbert


    Good day, my book people. I’m always happy to welcome fellow book people to my blog and today I’m happy to announce a nice change of pace as I’m hosting a visit by the character Zelda Shoemaker from the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, including the latest Past Due for Murder. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing about Taylorsford, Virginia from the one and only Zelda Shoemaker. Thank you, Ms. Shoemaker, for enlightening us all about your town and it’s residents. 






    Hello everyone! It looks like I finally get my own guest post. It’s about time, I have to say. Honestly, I’m the person who really knows what’s going on in Taylorsford, but I rarely get the opportunity to share everything I know.

    Now my significant other, Walt Adams, would tell you that I do plenty of talking. Maybe he’s right—I am a very social person. Well, I had to be, didn’t I, when I was postmistress for the town for all those years? I had to know everyone, and where they lived, and who lived with them, and that sort of thing. It helped me to do my job. 

    Now that I’m retired, I still like to keep up with the latest news. (Walt would call it “gossip,” but I don’t consider it as such). Taylorsford remains a fairly small town, and even though there’s been a lot of growth on the outskirts over the years, I still know almost everyone. Not by name, maybe, but I do recognize who’s a resident and who’s not. Now, don’t think I discriminate against newcomers or anything. I try to be friendly to all our new residents and visitors, which is not something everyone in town appreciates. There’s a few, like that snooty Elspeth Blackstone, the current mayor’s wife, who thinks that we should restrict who moves into Taylorsford, so that the “wrong sort,” as she calls it, don’t “bring down the tone” of the town. I say that’s a lot of nonsense. Even if those Blackstones have lived here forever, I’d take a whole boatload of new folks over them. In fact, I’m currently acting as the campaign manager for a fine young lady called Sunshine Fields, who’s running for mayor of Taylorsford. Honestly, I’d support anyone opposing Bob Blackstone, but I also think Sunny would make a fantastic leader.

    Oh, you want to know more about me? Well, all right, I’ll tell you, although it’s not a very exciting story. The truth is, I’ve lived in Taylorsford all my life. I’ve even had the same best friend since childhood— Lydia Litton Talbot. She and Walt and I all rode the same bus to elementary school, and have been friends ever since. Of course, since Walt was one of the few African-Americans living in the area when we were young (that’s changed since then, thank goodness) he and I couldn’t date when we were in our teens, even though we wanted to. I mean, you have to understand—that was back in the sixties when there was a lot of racial tension in our county high school. I guess we could’ve stood up to the prejudice back then, but we were both too concerned about how our families would feel, or how they might be affected by the stupid behavior of others, to fight against that taboo.

    So we both ended up marrying other people. It wasn’t a tragedy, by any means—he loved his wife just like I loved my husband—and we always remained friends. Then, after his kids were grown (I couldn’t have any, sadly) and his wife died, we started dating. Of course, I was a widow by that point. We kept our relationship secret for a while. Just out of habit, I guess. But then Sunny and her friend, Amy Webber—who’s Lydia’s niece, by that way—convinced us to go public. And I must say, much to our surprise, no one seems to have a problem with our relationship. Which just goes to show that sometimes the “good old days” weren’t quite as rosy as some people seem to think. Today is better, in a lot of ways.

    Now I spend my time taking care of my house and garden, dating Walt, and spending time with Lydia and some other friends. I also volunteer at the public library where Amy works. She’s the library director in Taylorsford, you know. A smart girl, and quite sweet, although she does seem to have a nose for trouble. I mean, she’s always stumbling over dead bodies—can you imagine? I’m just happy she’s escaped some of the dangerous situations she’s gotten herself into, and found herself a good man along the way. That Richard of hers is as nice as he is good-looking, and that’s a rare combination, let me tell you. Now, if we could just find Sunny someone just as fine. I mean, even Lydia is dating again, and she seems to have lucked out and hooked quite a catch later in life, just like I did with Walt. So now there’s just Sunny. Poor lamb, she tends to date a lot of people but it never seems to work out. But she’s such a dear, beautiful, girl I’m sure she’ll meet someone special someday. 

    Anyway, that’s enough chatter from me. I don’t want to prove Walt right about all that talking. I’ll just wish you a great day, and remind you to tell everyone who’s eligible to vote for Sunny for mayor! I really believe she’ll bring some wonderful, and much-needed, change to my lovely old town.

    Oh, and if you hear or see anything interesting when you’re visiting Taylorsford, please share! I’m always happy to hear all the latest news. 







    About  the Author





    Raised in a historic small town in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Victoria Gilbert turned her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian.


    Victoria’s first cozy mystery series, the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, garnered her a three-book deal with Crooked Lane Books, which has since been expanded to five books. The first two books in the series have been optioned by Sony Pictures Television, and the first three were or will be produced in audiobook by Tantor Media.


    Victoria also just inked a 2-book deal with Crooked Lane for a new cozy series, the Booklovers B & B series, set in historic Beaufort, NC.


    A member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime, Victoria is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel.


    Author Links:

    Website/blog: http://victoriagilbertmysteries.com/

    Facebook author page:  https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaGilbertMysteryAuthor/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/VGilbertauthor

    Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/VictoriaGilbert

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoriagilbertauthor/





    Past Due for Murder:
    A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
    by Victoria Gilbert


    About the Book



    Past Due for Murder: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery
    Cozy Mystery
    3rd in Series
    Crooked Lane Books (February 12, 2019)
    Hardcover: 304 pages
    ISBN-10: 1683318749
    ISBN-13: 978-1683318743
    Digital ASIN: B07D2GYM25


    Has a curse fallen on the small town of Taylorsford, Virginia? After a young woman goes missing during a spring bonfire, library director Amy Webber must wade through the web of lies only to find a truth that she may not want to untangle.


    Spring has sprung in quaint Taylorsford, Virginia, and the mayor has revived the town’s long-defunct May Day celebration to boost tourism. As part of the festivities, library director Amy Webber is helping to organize a research project and presentation by a local folklore expert. All seems well at first—but spring takes on a sudden chill when a university student inexplicably vanishes during a bonfire.


    The local police cast a wide net to find the missing woman, but in a shocking turn of events, Amy’s swoon-worthy neighbor Richard Muir becomes a person of interest in the case. Not only is Richard the woman’s dance instructor, he also doesn’t have an alibi for the night the student vanished—or at least not one he’ll divulge, even to Amy.


    When the missing student is finally discovered lost in the mountains, with no memory of recent events—and a dead body lying nearby—an already disturbing mystery takes on a sinister new hue. Blessed with her innate curiosity and a librarian’s gift for research, Amy may be the only one who can learn the truth in Past Due for Murder, Victoria Gilbert’s third charming Blue Ridge Library mystery.


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