Fiction Review

David Rosenfelt, Dogs & Animal Instinct

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How could there be a conversation with David Rosenfelt without a discussion of dogs and the dogs on his book covers? He and Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, talked about his latest book, Animal Instinct, A K Team Novel. If you’re checking the Web Store, there will be signed copies available. https://bit.ly/2ZmRgd8

Here’s the background of Animal Instinct.

The K Team is back in the second installment in this spinoff series from bestselling author David Rosenfelt’s beloved Andy Carpenter mysteries.

Corey Douglas and his K-9 partner, a German shepherd named Simon Garfunkel, are recently retired police officers turned private investigators. Along with fellow former cop Laurie Collins and her investigating partner, Marcus, they call themselves the K Team, in honor of Simon.

The K Team’s latest case – a recent unsolved murder – gives Corey a chance to solve “the one that got away”. Corey knew the murder victim from his time on the force, when he was unable to protect her in a domestic dispute. Now, he is convinced the same abusive boyfriend is responsible for her murder. With some help from Laurie’s lawyer husband, Andy Carpenter, the K Team is determined to prove what the police could not, no matter the cost. What they uncover is much more sinister than they could have imagined.

Known for his dog-loving stories and addictive characters, bestselling mystery author David Rosenfelt presents Animal Instinct, the second installment in this engrossing new series about a dynamite investigative team and their canine partner.


DAVID ROSENFELT is the Edgar-nominated and Shamus Award-winning author of more than twenty Andy Carpenter novels, including One Dog NightCollared, and Deck the Hounds; its spinoff series, The K-Team; the Doug Brock thriller series, which starts with Fade to Black; and stand-alone thrillers including Heart of a Killer and On Borrowed Time. Rosenfelt and his wife live in Maine with an ever-changing pack of rescue dogs. Their epic cross-country move with 25 of these dogs, culminating in the creation of the Tara Foundation, is chronicled in Dogtripping.


Enjoy the discussion of Animal Instinct and dogs.

Flynn Berry in Conversation with Adrian McKinty

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It was just perfect that Flynn Berry, author of Northern Spy, talked with Adrian McKinty, author of the Sean Duffy series set during the Troubles in Belfast. They could talk about Northern Ireland, Belfast, terrorism. With what’s happening right now in Northern Ireland, her book, and their conversation is timely. You can order books by both Berry and McKinty through the Web Store. https://store.poisonedpen.com/

Although we talked about Northern Spy yesterday, here’s the summary again.

REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK
 
“If you love a mystery, then you’ll devour [Northern Spy] . . . I loved this thrill ride of a book.”—Reese Witherspoon

The acclaimed author of Under the Harrow and A Double Life returns with her most riveting novel to date: the story of two sisters who become entangled with the IRA

A producer at the BBC and mother to a new baby, Tessa is at work in Belfast one day when the news of another raid comes on the air. The IRA may have gone underground in the two decades since the Good Friday Agreement, but they never really went away, and lately bomb threats, security checkpoints, and helicopters floating ominously over the city have become features of everyday life. As the news reporter requests the public’s help in locating those responsible for the robbery, security footage reveals Tessa’s sister, Marian, pulling a black ski mask over her face.

The police believe Marian has joined the IRA, but Tessa is convinced she must have been abducted or coerced; the sisters have always opposed the violence enacted in the name of uniting Ireland. And besides, Marian is vacationing on the north coast. Tessa just spoke to her yesterday.

When the truth about Marian comes to light, Tessa is faced with impossible choices that will test the limits of her ideals, the bonds of her family, her notions of right and wrong, and her identity as a sister and a mother. Walking an increasingly perilous road, she wants nothing more than to protect the one person she loves more fiercely than her sister: her infant son, Finn.

Riveting, atmospheric, and exquisitely written, Northern Spy is at once a heart-pounding story of the contemporary IRA and a moving portrait of sister- and motherhood, and of life in a deeply divided society.


Flynn Berry is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and the recipient of a Yaddo fellowship. Her first novel, Under the Harrow, won the 2017 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and was named a best book of the year by The Washington Post and The Atlantic. Her second novel, A Double Life, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. 


Enjoy the conversation!

Flynn Berry’s Book Club Pick

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Did you know The Poisoned Pen’s Hot Book of the Week, Flynn Berry’s Northern Spy, is the April Pick for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club? While you might not receive it in time to read for the book club, you can get a signed copy through the Web Store. http://bit.ly/2v2409L

Here’s Northern Spy.

REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK
 
“If you love a mystery, then you’ll devour [Northern Spy] . . . I loved this thrill ride of a book.”—Reese Witherspoon

The acclaimed author of Under the Harrow and A Double Life returns with her most riveting novel to date: the story of two sisters who become entangled with the IRA

A producer at the BBC and mother to a new baby, Tessa is at work in Belfast one day when the news of another raid comes on the air. The IRA may have gone underground in the two decades since the Good Friday Agreement, but they never really went away, and lately bomb threats, security checkpoints, and helicopters floating ominously over the city have become features of everyday life. As the news reporter requests the public’s help in locating those responsible for the robbery, security footage reveals Tessa’s sister, Marian, pulling a black ski mask over her face.

The police believe Marian has joined the IRA, but Tessa is convinced she must have been abducted or coerced; the sisters have always opposed the violence enacted in the name of uniting Ireland. And besides, Marian is vacationing on the north coast. Tessa just spoke to her yesterday.

When the truth about Marian comes to light, Tessa is faced with impossible choices that will test the limits of her ideals, the bonds of her family, her notions of right and wrong, and her identity as a sister and a mother. Walking an increasingly perilous road, she wants nothing more than to protect the one person she loves more fiercely than her sister: her infant son, Finn.

Riveting, atmospheric, and exquisitely written, Northern Spy is at once a heart-pounding story of the contemporary IRA and a moving portrait of sister- and motherhood, and of life in a deeply divided society.


Flynn Berry is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and the recipient of a Yaddo fellowship. Her first novel, Under the Harrow, won the 2017 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and was named a best book of the year by The Washington Post and The Atlantic. Her second novel, A Double Life, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. 

Erica Ruth Neubauer, in Conversation

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Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, recently hosted Erica Ruth Neubauer, author of Murder at Wedgefield Manor and Murder at the Mena House. Murder at the Mena House, the first in the historical mystery series featuring Jane Wunderly, is an Agatha Award and Lefty Award finalist. There may still be signed copies available of the new book, Murder at Wedgefield Manor. Check the Web Store. https://bit.ly/3mpXKlr

Here’s Murder at Wedgefield Manor.

In the wake of World War I, Jane Wunderly–a thoroughly modern young American widow–is traveling abroad, enjoying the hospitality of an English lord and a perfectly proper manor house, until murder makes an unwelcome appearance…

England, 1926: Wedgefield Manor, deep in the tranquil Essex countryside, provides a welcome rest stop for Jane and her matchmaking Aunt Millie before their return to America. While Millie spends time with her long-lost daughter, Lillian, and their host, Lord Hughes, Jane fills the hours devouring mystery novels and taking flying lessons–much to Millie’s disapproval. But any danger in the air is eclipsed by tragedy on the ground when one of the estate’s mechanics, Air Force veteran Simon Marshall, is killed in a motorcar collision.

The sliced brake cables prove this was no accident, yet was the intended victim someone other than Simon? The house is full of suspects–visiting relations, secretive servants, strangers prowling the grounds at night–and also full of targets. The enigmatic Mr. Redvers, who helped Jane solve a murder in Egypt, arrives on the scene to once more offer his assistance. It seems that everyone at Wedgefield wants Jane to help protect the Hughes family. But while she searches for answers, is she overlooking a killer hiding in plain sight?


Erica Ruth Neubauer spent eleven years in the military, nearly two as a Maryland police officer, and one as a high school English teacher, before finding her way as a writer. She has been a reviewer of mysteries and crime fiction for publications such as Publishers Weekly and Mystery Scene Magazine for several years, and she’s a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Erica Ruth lives in Milwaukee, WI.


Enjoy the conversation about the books and the past.

National Book Launches

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In case you don’t get the newsletter from The Poisoned Pen (and, why not?), I’m going to highlight three upcoming events that Barbara Peters, owner of the bookstore, mentioned. All the comments are Barbara’s.

A trio of outstanding thrillers with attendant virtual national book launches at The Pen all happen on April 12 and 13. If you wait to order you may well be disappointed. As they will be joining us from home we can’t accept requests for personalizations…. can’t wait until next year!! So, once you read this, head to the Web Store to place your orders. https://store.poisonedpen.com/ All the events are hosted on Facebook on The Poisoned Pen’s page.

MONDAY APRIL 12 4:45 PM National book launch
Anne Hillerman discusses Stargazer (Harper $27.99
Bernie Manuelito, Leaphorn & Chee
I love learning about NM’s Very Large Array in this new chapter.
Everyone in this excellent story takes a step forward, even Joe Leaphorn with his fear of flying, Jim Chee with his staff assignment, Bernie Manuelito with wondering if she should change her career goals, and all of them moving widely across the eastern NM landscape. Very exciting mystery too. And we will host an event for the first biography of Tony Hillerman in September.

MONDAY APRIL 12 6:00 PM National book launch
Jack Carr discusses The Devil’s Hand (Atria $27.99)
James Reece #4
Our Signed copies come with a specially designed signed bookplate too.


I just received my very own signed copy from Jack and will have more to report next Enews.

TUESDAY APRIL 13 6:00 PM National book launch
John Sandford discusses. Ocean Prey (Putnam $29)
Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, together!
Just finished this. So much fun! Lots of humor in this one. Lucas is looser, and of course Virgil always is. Good diving and boat stuff off Florida, a free wheeling US Marshals action livens up the FBI investigation into a deep sea drug drop and the murder of thee Coast Guardsmen. Virgil gets a moment of Die Hard action!! in the end game. Recommended to any reader, Lucas Davenport fan or not. You don’t need to have read any Prey novel to buckle up with this thriller.

Tips on our Virtual Events
The times listed are Pacific Daylight Time

Here is the link to view them on Facebook Live

We try to start them on time at the hour posted. You can sign it a bit early and wait for it to start. Or join later.

You can watch them in real time and comment if you do belong to FB. And you can watch them later at any time that is convenient.

You can listen to them in a subsequent podcast

Here’s the link to our You Tube channel 

The Videos go back for some years. Watch those posted to You Tube on your Smart TV. It’s a nice change from a small screen

Alicia Beckman, Guest Author

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It’s my pleasure to introduce you to a new author today. Well, not really. Some of you may already recognize Leslie Budewitz, who has written her first standalone novel under the name Alicia Beckman. Bitterroot Lake‘s publication date is April 13, but Beckman agreed to share a piece a week ahead of time. You can order Bitterroot Lake through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/39w499H

The Stories Behind the Story

by Alicia Beckman (aka Leslie Budewitz)

An essential element of creativity is the ability to weave disparate images and ideas into something new. Psychologists call that divergent thinking, and it’s one of the three main factors in creativity, along with plasticity—the interest in new ideas, objects, and scenarios, and convergence—the ability to pull ideas together into something cohesive and coherent. It’s what I enjoy most about writing—the almost magical way that seemingly-disconnected bits and pieces fit themselves together to tell a story.

Though Bitterroot Lake (Crooked Lane Books, April 13, 2021) is my eleventh novel and twelfth book, it’s my first stand-alone suspense novel. I knew the basic premise—four women, two of them sisters, reunite at the historic lodge owned by the sisters’ family, where a tragedy occurred twenty-five years ago. I knew the history of the lodge would play a role, but didn’t know how. The exciting part was discovering crucial elements of my characters’ lives and of the community, many emerging subconsciously, and deliberately shaping them into story.

I’d long wanted to write a novel exploring women’s friendships, how connections ebb and flow over time, how tensions and misconceptions play out, how alliances shift, how loyalty is tested but endures. It’s a classic story, told many times, but each telling is different because the women themselves are different. I suspect I’d been drawn to it in part because I’m blessed with a deep friendship of more than forty years, and I’ve also seen how other friendships touched it, intersecting like human Venn diagrams, and ultimately didn’t stick or broke apart. Friendship is a core value to many women, and yet, it is never a static thing.

Turns out I’ve actually written two novels with this theme, which emerged unexpectedly in The Solace of Bay Leaves (Seventh Street Books, 2020), the Spice Shop mystery I was writing at the same time as I was hatching and pitching the idea for what became Bitterroot Lake. Apparently my subconscious mind had more to say.

Here in Montana, as in many parts of the country, it’s not uncommon to see a historic lodge on the shores of a mountain lake. A handful, like the lodges of Glacier National Park, are grand public monuments to the vision of early twentieth century architects and the WPA, boasting logs five feet across and a recognizable rustic style. Others are spacious and graceful, or snug and cozy, and some are slowly sinking back into the earth. I love every one of them.

A friend had been sharing her adventures cleaning out her large home, filled with her own collections and those of previous generations. I didn’t know she had good reason to feel the ticking of time as she posted pictures of her discoveries and dilemmas on Facebook. A woman I knew spoke of spending extra hours with a relative who’d been widowed unexpectedly, leaving her wealthy but alone at just seventy, when she’d thought they had years together.

Divergent elements. Disparate images and ideas, from the past and the present, from across the country, from other women’s lives and my own. I took the image of that Victorian house in New England and merged it with a modern marvel in Seattle to create a historic lodge on a Montana lake. My mind handed me Sarah McCaskill Carter, who’d been expecting to rediscover life with her husband, enjoying the fruits of his success now that the nest was empty, but instead finds herself a widow at forty-seven. When her mother suggests she come back to Montana to help clean out the family’s lodge, she never imagines she’ll spend that time with her sister and two old friends—a foursome that broke apart after a tragedy twenty-five years ago. And she certainly doesn’t expect that a new tragedy will force them to confront their jealousies and resentments and reconsider choices they made under very different circumstances.

I’m particularly grateful for the way my inner voice and writer self worked together because I was writing this book in the first five months of 2020. Just as I got to the heart of the story, the world shut down. Opportunities for in-person research were gone, although my husband and I did spend a lovely clear-blue afternoon wandering through historic cemeteries and crawling around an ancient ice house that became a pivotal setting. My mind happily filled in the gaps, feeding me images that then became ideas I could weave into plot threads, plant as symbols, and spin as metaphors. Some came from my legal career and community work. Others came from what I learned while my husband, a musician, was writing the music for two documentaries on regional history. I have fond memories of childhood train trips, eating off the railroad china Sarah finds in the lodge’s kitchen cupboards. And there’s the bitterroot itself, small and lovely, the state flower, named by Meriwether Lewis and sacred to the Salish people.

And always, there are the ways that women in isolated places—of geography or circumstance—find to connect with other women, and to help them, and how women are wracked by guilt when they realize they’ve failed to help another.

It’s a story as old as the mountain pines and the glacial lake waters. I hope with Bitterroot Lake, I’ve found a way to make it new again.

***

ABOUT THE BOOK:

From the cover:

When four women separated by tragedy reunite at a lakeside Montana lodge, murder forces them to confront everything they thought they knew about the terrifying accident that tore them apart, in Agatha Award-winning author Alicia Beckman’s suspense debut.

Twenty-five years ago, during a celebratory weekend at historic Whitetail Lodge, Sarah McCaskill had a vision. A dream. A nightmare. When a young man was killed, Sarah’s guilt over having ignored the warning in her dreams devastated her. Her friendships with her closest friends, and her sister, fell apart as she worked to build a new life in a new city. But she never stopped loving Whitetail Lodge on the shores of Bitterroot Lake.

Now that she’s a young widow, her mother urges her to return to the lodge for healing. But when she arrives, she’s greeted by an old friend–and by news of a murder that’s clearly tied to that tragic day she’ll never forget.

And the dreams are back, too. What dangers are they warning of this time? As Sarah and her friends dig into the history of the lodge and the McCaskill family, they uncover a legacy of secrets and make a discovery that gives a chilling new meaning to the dreams. Now, they can no longer ignore the ominous portents from the past that point to a danger more present than any of them could know.

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (April 13, 2021)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alicia Beckman makes her suspense debut with Bitterroot Lake (Crooked Lane Books, April 2021). As Leslie Budewitz, she’s a three-time Agatha-Award winner (2011, Best Nonfiction; 2013, Best First Novel; 2018, Best Short Story) and best-selling author of the Spice Shop mysteries, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, and the Food Lovers’ Village mysteries, inspired by Bigfork, Montana, where she lives. A practicing lawyer, she’s a national board member of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime.

Upcoming Virtual Events

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Today seemed like the perfect day to share the schedule of upcoming virtual events at The Poisoned Pen. Check the calendar for your favorite authors, and then check the Web Store to order their books. https://store.poisonedpen.com/

As always, it’s a terrific schedule.

Carolyn Kepnes
Michael Sears
Flynn Berry / Adrian McKinty
C.S. Harris
Wallace Stroby
Nick Martell
Rhys Bowen

Dennis Lehane for the 20th Anniversary of Mystic River

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Anecdotes and conversation with Dennis Lehane who is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Mystic River. Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, has a couple surprising anecdotes, and then, Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl, hosts the conversation. You’ll have to backorder a copy of Mystic River. https://bit.ly/3uloc2z

This New York Times bestseller from Dennis Lehane is a gripping, unnerving psychological thriller about the effects of a savage killing on three former friends in a tightly knit, blue-collar Boston neighborhood.

When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car pulled up to their street. One boy got into the car, two did not, and something terrible happened—something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever.

Twenty-five years later, Sean is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con who owns a corner store. And Dave is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay —demons that urge him to do terrible things. When Jimmy’s daughter is found murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. His investigation brings him into conflict with Jimmy, who finds his old criminal impulses tempt him to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave, who came home the night Jimmy’s daughter died covered in someone else’s blood.

A tense and unnerving psychological thriller, Mystic River is also an epic novel of love and loyalty, faith and family, in which people irrevocably marked by the past find themselves on a collision course with the darkest truths of their own hidden selves.  


Dennis Lehane is the author of thirteen novels—including the New York Times bestsellers Live by Night; Moonlight Mile; Gone, Baby, Gone; Mystic River; Shutter Island; and The Given Day—as well as Coronado, a collection of short stories and a play. He grew up in Boston, MA and now lives in California with his family.


This conversation is a little longer than many of the virtual events, but you’ll want to hear Dennis Lehane and Gillian Flynn talk about writing.

Donna Leon, Opera, Books & Transient Desires

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The Poisoned Pen has never hosted Donna Leon before. Now, thanks to all the virtual events, she was able to appear and discuss opera and her books, including the thirtieth Guido Brunetti crime novel, Transient Desires. Because this was her first “visit” to the bookstore, it was a wide-ranging conversation. Enjoy the conversation, and stop in the Web Store to order Transient Desires or Leon’s other books. http://tinyurl.com/3yap6ytd

Here’s the description of Transient Desires.

n the landmark thirtieth installment of the bestselling series theNew Yorker has called “an unusually potent cocktail of atmosphere and event,” Guido Brunetti is forced to confront an unimaginable crime

In his many years as a commissario, Guido Brunetti has seen all manner of crime and known intuitively how to navigate the various pathways in his native city, Venice, to discover the person responsible. Now, inTransient Desires, the thirtieth novel in Donna Leon’s masterful series, he faces a heinous crime committed outside his jurisdiction. He is drawn in innocently enough: two young American women have been badly injured in a boating accident, joy riding in the Laguna with two young Italians. However, Brunetti’s curiosity is aroused by the behavior of the young men, who abandoned the victims after taking them to the hospital. If the injuries were the result of an accident, why did they want to avoid association with it?

As Brunetti and his colleague, Claudia Griffoni, investigate the incident, they discover that one of the young men works for a man rumored to be involved in more sinister nighttime activities in the Laguna. To get to the bottom of what proves to be a gut-wrenching case, Brunetti needs to enlist the help of both the Carabinieri and the Guardia di Costiera. Determining how much trust he and Griffoni can put in these unfamiliar colleagues adds to the difficulty of solving a peculiarly horrible crime whose perpetrators are technologically brilliant and ruthlessly organized.

Donna Leon’sTransient Desires is as powerful as any novel she has written, testing Brunetti to his limits and forcing him to listen very carefully for the truth.


Donna Leon, born in New Jersey in 1942, has worked as a travel guide in Rome and as a copywriter in London. She taught literature in universities in Iran, China, and Saudi Arabia. Commissario Brunetti made her books world-famous. Donna Leon lived in Italy for many years, and although she now lives in Switzerland, she often visits Venice.


I think you’ll find some surprises in this conversation.

JT Ellison Hosts Allison Brennan

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Lies and more lies. Will you know who to trust with two authors whose books both have lies in the titles? Allison Brennan’s new book, Tell No Lies, is the Hot Book of the Week at The Poisoned Pen. J.T. Ellison, the host for the recent virtual event, is the author of a gothic novel, Her Dark Lies. You can order both books through the Web Store. https://store.poisonedpen.com/

Here’s Tell No Lies.

The unsolved murder of a young activist leads to the discovery of much darker crimes in New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan’s latest compelling thriller to feaure the young, edgy detective Kara Quinn and the loner FBI agent Matt Costa. This time they work to uncover possible ties to a high-stakes cartel in the Southwest desert.

Something mysterious is killing the wildlife in the mountains just south of Tucson. When a college intern turned activist sets out to collect her own evidence, she, too, ends up dead. Local law enforcement is slow to get involved. That’s when the mobile FBI unit goes undercover to infiltrate the town and its copper refinery in search of possible leads.

Quinn and Costa find themselves scouring the desolate landscape, which keeps revealing clues to something much darker—greed, child trafficking and more death. As the body count adds up, it’s clear they have stumbled onto much more than they bargained for. Now they must figure out who is at the heart of this mayhem and stop them before more innocent lives are lost.

A Quinn & Costa Thriller

Book 1: The Third to Die

Book 2: Tell No Lies


ALLISON BRENNAN is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over thirty novels. She has been nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in Arizona with her husband, five kids and assorted pets.


Check out Her Dark Lies.

If you only read one thriller this year…
“A great modern gothic. Ellison outdid herself— what an ending!” —Catherine Coulter, #1 
NYT bestselling author of VORTEX.

Fast-paced and brilliantly unpredictable, J.T. Ellison’s breathtaking new novel invites you to a wedding none will forget—and some won’t survive.

Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.

From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.

Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins…


J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels, and the EMMY® award winning co-host of the literary show A WORD ON WORDS. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 28 countries. She lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.


Enjoy the conversation between Allison Brennan and J.T. Ellison.