Impending Love and Madness

Impending Love and Madness published May 30, 2018

Print or ebook historic romance novel “Impending Love and Madness” by Laura Freeman at http://goo.gl/0fBnFq and @wildrosepress or shop Amazon at https://goo.gl/B7lKMs

Blurb of Impending Love and MadnessBest_ImpendingLoveandMadness_w12429_750

Cass Beecher hopes Sergeant Zach Ravenswood will fall in love with her on an outing to Ford’s Theater, only to have their world turned upside down with President Lincoln’s assassination. Her romantic plans continue to be thwarted by family, friends, and a mysterious stranger. Can she save the man she loves from the enemies that plot to ruin him?

Zach thought with the war over, he could turn his attention to wooing the lovely Cassandra, but a fortune teller’s dire predictions begin to come true when a fire disfigures him, a nun poisons him, his uncle steals his inheritance, and he’s shot. Is he going mad or is everything not as it appears?

Excerpt:

“Mister Ravenswood is ill and isn’t receiving guests.”

“But we traveled all this way,” Cass said. “Isn’t there going to be a sale?”

“A gale?” The old woman looked at the sky and pointed at a dark cloud. “It looks like rain.”

“We were asking about the horse sale!” Ethan shouted.

“The sale is on Saturday. You should return then.” She pushed the door closed. The clank of a bolt locking the entrance echoed from inside.

“Well, I never.” Cass stared at the wooden barrier, willing it to open. “We’re here to see Zach! If he’s ill, I can help!” Her shouts were unanswered.

“Come on.” Ethan pulled her away and helped her into the buggy.

She turned. A curtain moved. Someone was watching them.

Harry took the reins and glanced at the sky. “She was right about a storm. We better hurry to the village. We can try again tomorrow.”

Ethan relaxed against the back seat. “Any of you buying that fairytale the old witch was telling?”

“No, but what can we do?” Harry asked. “We’ve been thrown out of the castle.”

“Old witch,” Cass repeated Ethan’s description.

Harry slowed the horse. “Are you all right, Miss Cassie? You look pale.”

“Don’t you remember the fortune teller’s prediction? I think Zach is in trouble, and he needs our help.”

Ethan leaned forward. “How do you propose we sneak past the crazy doorkeeper?”

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‘F’ is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

‘F’ is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton 1989

Grafton leaves her garage home when Royce Fowler hires her to prove his son BaileyIMG_1855 didn’t kill his girlfriend, Jean Timberlake 17 years ago. Bailey escaped from prison a year after he confessed but was arrested under his alias. Royce has a sick wife, Oribelle, who runs the family hotel while complaining about her ailments. Their daughter Ann has quit her job as counselor at the high school to care for her ailing parents but they are driving her insane. Grafton goes back and forth from the present situation to the past crime as she introduces characters who were involved with Jean, who was pregnant when she was killed and looking for her biological father.

Bailey maintains his innocence but during his hearing, his best friend Tap shoots up the courtroom with a shotgun loaded with rocksalt, and Bailey escapes, hiding out. Tap is shot by police leaving his young wife with four children and another on the way. Tap and Bailey were into robberies and had $42,000 stashed with Jean, which has disappeared.

Grafton keeps the reader guessing by adding a preacher, spa owner, and principal who had relationships with Jean. She also throws in a crazy spa owner’s wife who beats Kinsey with a tennis racket. Kinsey whacks her in the nose. Grafton is adding humor to her heroine’s personality. Kinsey also is carrying her new gun but doesn’t use it. Grafton gives us the reason, but the reader can see that Grafton wants Kinsey to be in peril and have to use her wits to get out of trouble. The characters had fuller backstories and the emotional assault on characters was as intense as the physical damage. Kinsey grows in her compassion for Henry, her landlord, from the experience.

For writers, Grafton groups her suspects and makes it easier to identify them as she adds clues and complicates the plot.

‘F’ is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

‘F’ is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton 1989

Grafton leaves her garage home when Royce Fowler hires her to prove his son BaileyIMG_1855 didn’t kill his girlfriend, Jean Timberlake 17 years ago. Bailey escaped from prison a year after he confessed but was arrested under his alias. Royce has a sick wife, Oribelle, who runs the family hotel while complaining about her ailments. Their daughter Ann has quit her job as counselor at the high school to care for her ailing parents but they are driving her insane. Grafton goes back and forth from the present situation to the past crime as she introduces characters who were involved with Jean, who was pregnant when she was killed and looking for her biological father.

Bailey maintains his innocence but during his hearing, his best friend Tap shoots up the courtroom with a shotgun loaded with rocksalt, and Bailey escapes, hiding out. Tap is shot by police leaving his young wife with four children and another on the way. Tap and Bailey were into robberies and had $42,000 stashed with Jean, which has disappeared.

Grafton keeps the reader guessing by adding a preacher, spa owner, and principal who had relationships with Jean. She also throws in a crazy spa owner’s wife who beats Kinsey with a tennis racket. Kinsey whacks her in the nose. Grafton is adding humor to her heroine’s personality. Kinsey also is carrying her new gun but doesn’t use it. Grafton gives us the reason, but the reader can see that Grafton wants Kinsey to be in peril and have to use her wits to get out of trouble. The characters had fuller backstories and the emotional assault on characters was as intense as the physical damage. Kinsey grows in her compassion for Henry, her landlord, from the experience.

‘E’ if for Evidence by Sue Grafton

‘E’ if for Evidence by Sue Grafton 1988

Only Kinsey Millhone would be upset to have $5,000 deposited into her bank account by error.IMG_1853

She’s working on a routine fire investigation before Christmas on the Wood/Warren property. Kinsey is typing on a Smith-Corona – the same typewriter I bought in high school with my hard-earned babysitting money. I feel like a kindred spirit. Grafton has Kinsey explain how she tracks someone down and uncovers data with wits and a pen. She describes the scenery and people with a list of descriptive phrases. Her multiple characters are easier to keep separate in this story but she gives them good and bad traits so it’s hard to tell who to suspect for the crime.

The holidays are depressing for Kinsey because her neighbor, diner owner and favorite cop are all out of town. Kinsey goes to the burnt warehouse and does the paperwork. The family consists of Linden, who died two years ago, Ashley, Lance, Olive, Ebony and Bass, the black sheep. Olive is married to Terry Kohler, now VP of the company. She turns in her work only to find out after Christmas that the folder has been altered and she looks like she’s a co-conspirator in the arson and fraud along with Lance, the owner of the company. Kinsey is her own client as she interrogates the family, employees and a widow of a man who looked like he committed suicide. The clues are subtle but begin to add up. Greed seems to be the motive and there are plenty of suspects. Kinsey is visited by her second ex-husband Daniel, and Grafton gives us more personal background on Kinsey. Daniel is surfer good looking with bad addiction habits. She discovers his reason for leaving her eight years ago after a year of marriage. I won’t tell.

Thank goodness Grafton wrote this in 1988. She did thorough research on bombs down to the size of the box and how it would kill or burn anyone close by. Today, if she did the same research, she’d have the FBI knocking on her door. Mystery writers are always looking out their window for that black SUV parked on the street.

‘D’ is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton

‘D’ is for Deadbeat  by Sue Grafton 1987

Grafton likes to start the story after the events with a look back through Kinsey’s IMG_1851eyes. If anyone defines deadbeat it is John Daggett who wants her to find a 15-year-old boy named Tony and give him a check for $25,000. The check he pays Kinsey with bounces though, and before she can confront him, he turns up dead in an “accidental” drowning. Kinsey discovers Daggett is a drunk and killed five people in a car crash.

The relatives are all suspects, and she interviews each one, whittling away as the clues point toward a blond in a green skirt and high heels. Unfortunately, there are plenty of blonds who match the description of the woman last seen with Daggett.

The story doesn’t preach against drunk driving, but each family is tormented by Daggett’s alcoholism and survivorship guilt haunts more than one of the characters. This book could be analyzed and torn apart to create several new mystery novels.

Kinsey reveals a little more about losing her parents in a car crash and being raised by an aunt, and she identifies with Tony, whose family was killed in the car crash and is being raised by his aunt. She enjoys being single and hooks up with Jonah, the cop struggling with his wife’s concept of an open marriage. Grafton brings back Mike from ‘B’ for a small role as well.

Kinsey makes a big mistake leaving important items in her car, including her gun, and someone breaks the window and steals it. The gun comes back to haunt her.

A subplot of stealing money from Daggett seems weak compared to the drama of the family dealing with the loss of loved ones in a senseless car crash. I would have liked more time spent with Tony to help explain his character more. No reason was given for Daggett giving the money to Tony either unless I missed it. There were other victims he didn’t compensate so why Tony? Also even though there is a psychiatrist in the list of characters, Kinsey never talks to him. It seemed odd since she is normally so thorough.

 

‘C’ is for Corpse by Sue Grafton

‘C’ is for Corpse by Sue Grafton 1986

Bobby Callahan asks private investigator Kinsey Millhone to IMG_1850look into an accident a year ago where he was run off the road and his friend Rick died in a car crash. He is brain injured and doesn’t remember much but believes someone wanted him dead. She is introduced to his shrink Dr. Kleinert, his wife Nola, Bobby’s mother Glen who is rich, his stepfather Derek and stepsister Kitty, who is anorexic and drug addicted. She’s rushed to the ER.

Grafton takes each possible suspect and has Kinsey grill them, sometimes in a friendly way and sometimes in her sarcastic hardliner way. Grafton throws in a few more suspects, including Rick’s angry parents. The characters are hiding something and Kinsey begins the task of finding out the truth, explaining her own method — she noses around, does background checks, uncovers a threat, and follows where it leads.

Kinsey and Bobby visit the crash site, and he remembers a notebook he gave to a friend. Kinsey recalls the accident in which a boulder hit her family’s car and killed her parents. She was in the back seat and pinned to the floor, listening to her mother dying. Kinsey is her mother’s maiden name. If that doesn’t make the reader sympathetic to Kinsey, nothing will.

Her landlord Henry has a girlfriend, Lila, who Rosa thinks is a snake. She doesn’t like Kinsey and brings up her low rent. Kinsey checks into her and discovers Lila is a con artist. It’s a subplot that explores Kinsey’s personal life and how much her neighbors mean to her. When she searches Lola’s room, she is almost caught hiding in the shower. Some tense moments of hiding foreshadow the ending when she runs and hides from the killer. Grafton likes Kinsey to face the bad guy on her own. She doesn’t have her gun, but she finds a handy weapon to save her own life and capture the bad guy.

A few things were hard to accept like operating an x-ray machine although Grafton talks us into buying it. I kept getting the two doctors mixed up and the roles they played. This is where reading the book a second time helps. I didn’t like Kinsey going to an abandoned building alone without a gun. I thought she was smarter than that.

 

‘B’ is for Burglar

B is for Burlgar by Sue Grafton 1985

It’s been three years since Sue wrote ‘A’ is for Alibi and it shows in her writing. Where ‘A’ started a bit slow, ‘B’ moves the story at a faster pace from the very beginning. It starts at a simple missing person job. Kinsey Millhone needs to find Elaine Boldt because her sister Beverly needs her signature on a legal document.B is for Burglar

The story becomes more interesting when Elaine’s departure for Florida coincides with a burglary in which the neighbor, Marty, was bludgeoned to death and the house set on fire. Her husband Leonard is staying with his sister Lily and nephew Mike is growing pot in the shed behind the charred ruins of his former home. Kinsey has to travel to Florida to see if Elaine ever made it. Pat claims to be subletting her apartment but she claims Elaine picked her up at the airport and drove her here. Grafton drops a big clue. Elaine doesn’t drive. Pat is lying but why? When Beverly wants to drop the case, Julia in Florida pays for the investigation. Kinsey travels between California and Florida to piece together the facts. She also enlist the help of a cop to bypass Dolan’s stuck investigation. When she checks into the insurance angle, the policy on Marty and their home insurance was small and provides no motive. She can’t find a motive for anyone to get rid of Elaine so where is she?

Small things add up to the big picture. I liked how Kinsey uses a clipboard and claims to be from the insurance company so she can interview Leonard. She makes friends with old ladies and Mohawk-haired teenage boys with ease. Jonah is introduced as a possible love interest but timing is wrong for both of them. Kinsey’s tenacity is shown as well as some background information into her personal life. An aunt raised her after her parents died – the cause wasn’t revealed. It was the same aunt who took her to a gun range at a young age and set her on the path to law enforcement and future private investigator. I suspect more of her personal life will be revealed through the remaining books. At least I hope so. I won’t tell you more of the plot and ruin it, but the pieces begin to add up and the book’s ending is a nail biter because Kinsey left her gun locked in her office.

 

‘A’ is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

‘A’ is for Alibi by Sue GraftonA Crafton

My mom loved murder mysteries, and Sue Grafton was one of her favorites. I gathered some of the alphabet murder books and plan to read through them from A to Y. Grafton died before finishing Z.

I finished ‘A’ is for Alibi today, and since I would like to write a mystery, I’m going to note the things I learned from her writing.

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments about Grafton and her writing.

The book was published in 1982 and although some things in the book are dated, it doesn’t matter. What is unusual for 1982 is the private investigator Kinsey Millhone. She’s a woman, but not a grandmotherly type or amateur sleuth. She’s a hard-nose, twice divorced, 32-year-old professional. The story begins with her admitting to killing someone in the fourth sentence. Grafton got right to the point quickly—name, occupation, age and POW—killing someone. I’ve been told to introduce the murder in the first page. Grafton does it in the first paragraph, but it’s not the real murder.

The real murder occurred 8 years ago and Nikki Fife served eight years in jail for murdering her cheating husband. She wants Kinsey to find out who the real murderer was. That’s the story. Grafton introduces us to Kinsey’s bare-bones life, her hangout, her neighbor, and a cop who helps with the case. She introduces suspects one at a time, dropping clues along the way. The interviews provide information and secrets that the reader inhales along with Kinsey. I was kept guessing until the end, well, maybe not the very end. But knowing made the ending more exciting because of the danger.

Grafton uses description to set up each chapter, which is a compact scene, a part of the puzzle she’s assembling for the reader. Each witness provides a clue, lead, or lie to keep the reader moving along to solve the mystery. I kept a list of the characters, but they were distinct enough to keep separate if you don’t put the book down for too long.

Grafton adds a fresh murder with an unknown motive Kinsey and the reader need to discover. She also throws in dinner and sex for Kinsey. A red herring is planted and Kinsey uses a tough interview technique (pointing a gun at him) to eliminate the suspect.

The clues come rapid fire in the second half of the book with twist and turns that change the motive from cheating spouse to something more. When another witness is run down in a hit skip, Kinsey is in danger and she defends herself the only way she knows how. No one comes to her rescue. No one needs to.

Grafton makes Kinsey a well-rounded character, not the typical stereotype detective that too many writers fall back on. She’s gritty and straightforward but knows when to listen. She makes mistakes, but doesn’t lose her way. Many of the characters are women in the book (good and bad) and that may seem normal in 2018 but it had to be groundbreaking in 1982.  Now, only 24 more books to go.

Sue Grafton (April 24, 1940 – Dec. 28, 2017) didn’t write ‘Z’ is for Zero. She left that to our imaginations. Thank you.

Cozy Mystery writing

I received “Maid of Murder” and “Murder in a Basket” by Amanda Flowers as prizes during a Sisters in Crime anniversary party.Amanda Flowers

I enjoyed the first two books in an India Hayes Murder series and instead of a review (she is a friend after all) I will share some of the things I learned about writing a cozy mystery from reading her books.

The first obvious one is write what you know. Amanda and I are both from the Akron or the Northeast Ohio area. Her books are set in this area in a fictional town but nearby real references. I set my historical romances also in this area in the fictional town of Darrow Falls but with references to real places.

She introduces the main character, India, and creates sympathy for her by placing her in one of those awkward moments we have all experienced. In book 1, she is a bridesmaid for her best friend (who unfortunately is the murder victim) and has to wear an ugly dress. We’ve all been there and feel a bond toward her. In the second book she has to wear a historical dress, which most of us would also balk at, especially in public.

Other characters are introduced one at a time or in small groups and some are mean toward her. We don’t know if they’re suspects yet, but we’d like them to be.

Secrets and rumors are introduced in the second book to pique our interest while in the first, India is treated badly but not as badly as her love-struck brother, who has always had a crush on the bride-to-be.

Because it’s a cozy, there are dogs and cats and eccentric old ladies and nosy neighbors sprinkled among the small town setting.

The cop is an old boyfriend of India’s sister but the reader knows, even though India seems to be oblivious to the fact, that he’s interested in her. In any mystery, the love story is minor but can enhance the story. She can solve a mystery, but she doesn’t have a clue about love.

The main character discovers the dead body. In the first book, the suspect is her brother and their close bond makes it necessary for her to prove his innocence. In the second book, she befriends the son of the first victim and wants to find out the truth.

In this book there is a sidekick, like Dr. Watson to Sherlock Holmes, who offers some comic relief and helps with the investigation.

Suspects are eliminated one at a time and a motive is revealed, usually money.

She also adds a family crisis, which helps take the focus off the murder and expand what we know about the main character. Unlike traditional hard detective mysteries, the reader learns about the main character’s family, work, and dreams.

More suspects are added as the amateur sleuth interviews witnesses. Some pan out while others are dead ends.

A minor incident in the beginning often proves to be more important in the end.

By accident the heroine ends up finding herself alone with the killer who reveals his motive and threatens her. She fights back, rescues herself, and calls the cops who arrest the bad guy.

The story wraps up quickly at the end, but an epilogue gives us a glimpse into what happened to the main characters.

 

 

Presidents Day quotes

In my newest novel, “Impending Love and Madness” Zach Ravenswood and Cassandra Beecher attend a play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865, and witness the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. They memorize some of his speeches.

These words are from his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

These words are from a debate between Lincoln and Sen. Stephen Douglas in 1858:

It is the eternal struggle between these two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You toil and wok and earn bread, and I will eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live from the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.”