My life was never perfect. But whose life is anyway?
I had more than the typical Mommy Issues, although I have a pretty good excuse. Momma was never quite right after my daddy walked out. I’m not sure whether she blamed him more. . .or me. She started going out at night and leaving me alone. And when she was home, she was drinking.
Was it wrong to want my mother to see me? To be with me? But when I tried to engage her, her reaction was always the same. She’d wave her glass and tell me in a slurred voice to go outside and play, that my restlessness annoyed her.
I learned early on about being alone, about relying on myself. If I was the only one responsible, then I was the only one to blame. Things that happen early on, the loss of control, the loss of innocence, they end up shaping us, don’t they? Trying to put the past in the past is work, and it’s not easy.
I’m not good at trusting others much less leaning on them. There are just two people who’ve ever seen me let my guard down, two men who couldn’t be more different and whom I couldn’t do without.
The first is my partner, Hank Phelps, a combination of goofy big brother and overprotective dad. Hank’s a family man with a wife, two kids, and a car that reeks of French fries from weeks-old Happy Meals. He likes watching Jerry Springer in the wee hours of the night. Endlessly riding Space Mountain is his idea of a great vacation.
But I would trust him with my life.
The second man, Adam McCaffrey, is a medical examiner for the county. We met when I was with the Dallas P.D., and he had my vic on his table. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but there was chemistry. It might have worked way back then if he hadn’t been married. I walked away rather than screw up his life—God knows, I didn’t need to further screw up mine—and I don’t regret it. When he showed up on my doorstep, telling me his divorce was final, I let him in. I don’t regret that either.
It helped, more than I’d like to admit, having them both watching my back when I took the lead on a case involving a missing housewife named Jenny Dielman. Her husband claimed she’d gone shopping and had never come back. She’d been married before, had lost her only child, which had led to the divorce. She’d apparently never healed, or so Patrick Dielman insisted.
“Jenny had problems dealing with Finn’s death. It was hard for her to accept, especially since she couldn’t have any more children.”
“They did a hysterectomy after Finn was born because of bleeding. She said it didn’t matter because no child could replace her son.” He squirmed. “Sometimes she acted like she’d lost—” He stopped himself.
“Everything,” he said and shook his head. “I don’t know. She’d been acting upset and confused lately. She complained that things weren’t where she’d left them, that stuff was missing.”
“Her keys, a photograph, even the scarf I gave her for her birthday. Sometimes she’d swear she’d locked the door, but it was left open.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I told her she was being paranoid.”
I wondered if Jenny had just run away for a while, to find breathing room apart from her current spouse who struck me as smothering. But Patrick Dielman rejected that idea. When I asked him if Jenny could have been involved with someone else, he bristled and denied it. When I asked the same about him, Mr. Dielman got up and walked out.
Where are you, Jenny? I found myself asking, itching to know more about her: who she was and if the death of her son had driven her to do something bad, like harming herself, perhaps. Or had something bad happened to her?
With Hank’s help—and Adam’s as well—that’s exactly what I aimed to find out.
Walk Into Silence is the first book in the Jo Larsen mystery series, published by Thomas & Mercer, December 2016.
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About the author
Susan McBride is the USA Today bestselling author of the Debutante Dropout Mysteries and the River Road Mysteries. She has won a Lefty Award, been twice nominated for the Anthony Award, and received the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Amateur Sleuth. She lives in St. Louis with her husband and daughter. Walk Into Silence is her first mystery with Thomas & Mercer. It was a November Kindle First Pick in the US, UK, and Australia. For more on Susan, visit SusanMcBride.com.
All comments are welcomed.
Giveaway: Two people (US entries only, please) selected at random will receive a signed copy of Walk Into Silence. Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends December 3, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!