Tag Archives: police procedurals

My Musing ~ Marathon by Brian Freeman

Marathon by Brian Freeman is the eighth book in the “Jonathan Stride” mystery series. Publisher: Quercus, May 2017

On a rainy June morning, tens of thousands of people crowd into Duluth for the city’s biggest annual event: the Duluth Marathon. Exhausted runners push to reach the finish line and spectators line the streets to cheer them on. Then, in a terrifying echo of the Boston bombing, there is an explosion along the race course, leaving many people dead and injured.

Within minutes, Jonathan Stride, Serena Dial, and Maggie Bei are at work with the FBI to find the terrorists behind the tragedy. As social media feeds a flood of rumors and misinformation, one spectator remembers being jostled by a young man with a backpack not far from the bomb site. He spots a Muslim man in a tourist’s photo of the event and is convinced that this was the man who bumped into him in the crowd–but now the man’s backpack is missing.

When he tweets the photo to the public, the young man, Khan Rashid, becomes the most wanted man in the city. And the manhunt is on.

But are the answers behind the Duluth bombing more complex than anyone realizes? And can Stride, Serena, and Maggie find the truth before more innocent people are killed?

Brian has done it again. He’s delivered a fast-paced and riveting drama that I could not put down until the last sentence was read. From the beginning the author set the tone and kept the pace in sync with great narrative that was visually descriptive and engaging dialogue that exploded on the page with the action between the varied cast in this dynamic story. One only have to look at current events to tell that this story needed to be told. The author did a great job in the staging of this story and I loved seeing how this case was solved from the various perspective and the pivotal roles that Jonathan, Serena, Maggie and the other supporting cast played in the telling of this story. The further I read, the more the tension pulsated within my heart as the frenzy action of the character came to a pause when it became clear that what was seen was not seen and that “aha” moment took this this story to a higher pitch and I became engrossed in how this was all going to end. This was an excellent read and the best book in this grippingly thrilling series. I can’t wait to see what new adventures awaits Jonathan and his friends.

A day in the life with Macy Greeley by Karin Salvalaggio

I can see them now. My son Luke and my boyfriend Aiden are a hundred yards ahead, resting in the shade of a thin stand of pine trees. We’re on a high mountain trail in Montana’s Glacier National Park. I’ve been trying to catch up with them for hours. My legs feel so heavy I can barely lift them, my rucksack is warm against my back and a heavy summer sun is making me thirsty. I’m losing patience with the man I love. Luke is only four years old so he can be forgiven but I don’t understand why Aiden won’t wait for me.

The alarm clock I’ve set on my cellphone wakes me from my dream.

The hotel room is pitch dark and full of unfamiliar smells ― carpeting, cleaning fluid and something I can only describe as salami, which is troubling. The sheets are so crisp they pin me down to the bed like an envelope. The hotel is one of many dotted along Route 89 that cater to tourists in the summer and unlucky souls like myself in the winter. It is bitterly cold outside. The curtains are cracked open a fraction. I can just make out the hotel’s vacancy sign.

It feels like I’ve been living in hotels forever, but it has only been a week since I kissed my son and boyfriend goodbye. Wilmington Creek, the town I now call home, seems a lifetime away. I’m heading north into the heart of the Black Feet Indian Reservation where I’m hoping to get information on the whereabouts of a Native American girl who’s gone missing whilst hitchhiking the rural roads that lace the northern part of the state. She is one of many, but I don’t know that yet.

My cellphone rings again. I try to paw it into silence with my hand, but it isn’t the alarm so it doesn’t stop. Someone is calling me. I clear my throat but still croak.

“Special Investigator Macy Greeley, Montana Department of Justice,” I say. “How can I help?”

“You can cut the formalities for a start,” says Ryan.

I am now wide-awake. Ryan is a senior forensics investigator and one of my best friends. We’ve been working cases together for more than a dozen years. Hearing from him is a mixed blessing. It’s usually bad news.

“We’ve found a body – young, female and in all probability your missing person’s case. I’ve just emailed my preliminary findings. We’ve put in a request for dental records. Should know for sure if it’s Tamara Creek by the end of the day.”

I switch on the bedside lamp and reach for my laptop. It’s 6am and this is how I’m starting my day.

“Crap,” I say. “When she sent those text messages to her mother a couple of days ago I was feeling hopeful.”

“It wasn’t her. She’s been dead at least a week.”

“A week? Are you absolutely sure?”

“Yep.”

“So, some sick fuck has been making her friends and family believe she’s been alive all this time?”

“Looks that way. The hotel manager here called it in. No one was supposed to be in the room so he had no idea she’s been lying dead here all week. The guests that checked in late last night had a nasty shock. How soon can you get down to Great Falls?”

“An hour tops. Cause of death?”

I have the file Ryan sent me open on my computer but I can’t focus once I’ve read that the victim had a tattoo of a humming bird on her shoulder. I’ll have to wait for dental confirmation before informing the family, but I already know it’s Tamara, a 14 year old high school student from Missoula whose mother refused to accept that her daughter was a runaway. It was only by chance that a security camera had caught her being forced into a dark colored SUV.

“We’re not sure at this point but I’m guessing strangulation. There’s evidence of rape.”

I close my laptop and slip out from under the covers.

“I’m on my way,” I say.

I put on the coffee maker and throw on my clothes. Ten minutes later I’m on the road. The rest of the day goes by in a blur of interviews, heartache and takeaway food. I will drink 5 cups of coffee and 3 Diet Cokes. A Snickers Bar will see me through an afternoon lull. I will drive more than 400 miles but I never tire of the views and how they unfold. Montana’s snow covered mountains, valleys and rivers shimmer under an endless blue sky.

I end my day back home in Wilmington Creek. The house is quiet when I park my state issue four-by-four in the garage. Our Springer Spaniels come find me in the kitchen where I’m pouring myself a strong drink. The whiskey burns but in a good way. Luke has left a few drawings out on the dining table for me to see. Stick figures of Aiden, Luke and me stand in front of our small house. Against all odds we are now a family.

Aiden wanders in a few minutes later. His face is thick with sleep. His hair is pressed to the side of his head. I’d called him earlier so he already knows how difficult my day has been. It is only when he takes me in his arms and holds me tight that I finally allow myself to cry.


You can read more about Macy in Silent Rain, the fourth book in the “Macy Greeley” mystery series.

Grace Adams has spent three years trying to move on―mentally, physically, emotionally―from the traumatizing events of her past. But it’s not easy when the world is morbidly curious about the crimes that shaped her childhood, when despite her changed name, people still track her down for the sensational details. Now in college in Bolton, Montana, the one person Grace has trusted with the truth about her past has betrayed her. The bestselling novelist Peter Granger wants to use Grace’s story in his next book, regardless of how desperate Grace is to keep the details to herself. And then, on Halloween night, Peter Granger’s house burns to the ground and his and his wife’s bodies are found inside.

Montana state detective Macy Greeley is sent to Bolton to handle the investigation into the fire and deaths. . .which soon appear to be arson and murder. It doesn’t take Macy long to realize that Grace isn’t the only one whom Peter Granger has betrayed, and there are no shortage of others in town who took issue with him and his wife. What at first looked like a straightforward investigation is poised to expose some of Bolton’s darkest secrets, and the fallout may put more than one life in danger.

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About the author
Karin Salvalaggio received an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck at the University of London. Born in West Virginia and raised in an Air Force family, she grew up on a number of military bases around the United States. She now lives in London with her two children.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Silent Rain by Karin Salvalaggio

Silent Rain by Karin Salvalaggio is the fourth book in the “Macy Greeley” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur Books May 9, 2017

silent-rainGrace Adams has spent three years trying to move on―mentally, physically, emotionally―from the traumatizing events of her past. But it’s not easy when the world is morbidly curious about the crimes that shaped her childhood, when despite her changed name, people still track her down for the sensational details. Now in college in Bolton, Montana, the one person Grace has trusted with the truth about her past has betrayed her. The bestselling novelist Peter Granger wants to use Grace’s story in his next book, regardless of how desperate Grace is to keep the details to herself. And then, on Halloween night, Peter Granger’s house burns to the ground and his and his wife’s bodies are found inside.

Montana state detective Macy Greeley is sent to Bolton to handle the investigation into the fire and deaths. . .which soon appear to be arson and murder. It doesn’t take Macy long to realize that Grace isn’t the only one whom Peter Granger has betrayed, and there are no shortages of others in town who took issue with him and his wife. What at first looked like a straightforward investigation is poised to expose some of Bolton’s darkest secrets, and the fallout may put more than one life in danger.

The drama that unfolded captured my attention from the beginning and never let up, not even at the conclusion. There was more to this story and the author did a great job in disseminating all that transpired with this superb cast of characters that featured strong women in every possible form. The narrative was enticing with a tightly woven storyline that put me in the middle of all the action. The dialogue, the staging, and the story’s tempo, kept this tome moving at a pace that I dare not miss a moment for every little detail had me intrigued in the possibilities that the author put forth.

The author did a fantastic job in divvying up the roles that the characters played which were pivotal to how this was all going to end. They were a few strategically-placed twists that gave me pause but when it was all said it done, it added to how well this story was told. Macy is my kind of heroine, and it was nice seeing a stronger Grace who appeared in a previous book. With great plot twists, complex characters and an all-around great read, this was one of the best book in the series and I look forward to more investigations with Macy and her colleagues.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Vacationing with RCMP Sgt Ray Robertson by Vicki Delany

Vacation time!

I’m in Turks and Caicos for two weeks of vacation. And, boy do I need it.

I love my job, working with the UN, trying to introduce modern policing methods to fragile states. But it can be tough work, both physically and emotionally. First I was stationed in South Sudan and then in Haiti. I loved being in both those places, but sometimes a man needs a hot bath and a cold drink.

I loved the people (most of them) that I met there, but a man defiantly needs his family. My wife Jenny isn’t able to come on posting with me. Too dangerous for families.

She’s not too happy about that. And I understand. She’s stuck at home in Canada, managing the fort, dealing with the kids, running the details of our lives. I’m worried that she’s going to issue an ultimatum one of these days. I give up either UN policing or my marriage.

This vacation is a treat for her. Frankly, I’ve had enough of heat and sun, thank you very much. At my place in Haiti, I even have a pool (and a pool “boy” to look after it for me). Nothing I’d have loved more for my vacation than to head for the mountains of British Columbia for some good powder skiing. Feel the cold clear air on my face, hear the snow crunch beneath my boots.

But Jenny’s had enough of winter, and I knew she wouldn’t exactly jump at the idea of more of it.

So here we are. Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. It’s a fabulous island, with great hotels, top-class restaurants, nice people, a low crime rate. Grace Bay has many times been voted the world’s best beach. Did I mention expensive? Gulp. But I figure my marriage is worth it.

Somehow, much as I try,  it seems that the job can’t leave me alone. I found that man’s body on the beach this morning, while I was out for my jog. The police are handling it. They seem like a competent lot (they should be, they were trained by Canadians!)

Maybe I’ll just give them a quick call. Check in and see what they’ve learned. Jenny’s out. If I do it now, she’ll never know.

Blood and Belonging is the third Sgt Ray Robertson novella published by Orca Press. Rapid Reads novellas are written for adults with literacy difficulties, ESL students, reluctant readers, and those just wanting a quick, fast-paced read.

RCMP Sergeant Ray Robertson is in the Turks and Caicos Islands, enjoying two weeks of leave from his job training police in Haiti with the UN. On an early-morning jog along famed Grace Bay Beach he discovers a dead man in the surf. Ray is shocked to recognize the body as that of one of his Haitian police recruits. To his wife’s increasing dismay, Ray is compelled to follow the dead man’s trail and finds himself plunged into the world of human trafficking and the problems of a tiny country struggling to cope with a desperate wave washing up on its shores.

The first Ray Robertson book, Juba Good, was nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award, A Derringer Award and a Silver Oak award from the Ontario Library Association.

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About the author
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers. She is the author of twenty-four published crime novels, including standalone Gothic thrillers, the Constable Molly Smith series, the Year Round Christmas Mysteries, and books for adult literacy. Under the pen name of Eva Gates she is the national bestselling author of the Lighthouse Library cozy series. Her newest novel is Elementary, She Read, the first in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series.

Vicki lives and writes in Prince Edward County, Ontario. She is the past president of the Crime Writers of Canada.

Connect with Vicki at www.vickidelany.com, on Facebook, and Twitter at @vickidelany and @evagatesauthor.

All comments are welcomed.

Blood and Belonging is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

A Day in the Life with Dave Mason by Mar Preston

a-very-private-high-schoolI’ve written four—and soon five novels—set in the world of the Santa Monica Police Department. Homicide Detective Dave Mason is 37, and Santa Monica is an upscale glitzy seaside suburb of Los Angeles. Santa Monica is home to the homeless, a city of haves and have nots, ripe for dirty politicians, psychopathic homeowners, car thieves, and celebrity troublemakers.

Mason’s 10-hour shift, four days a week, starts with checking for a message from his nine-year-old daughter who lives too far away with her mother and new stepdad, a comic book artist. Finding something from her in his email box makes him smile. Most days he meets with his partner Art Delgado at the Public Safety Building two blocks from the ocean in downtown Santa Monica.

Today he’s scheduled for a krav maga training, the Israeli self-defense system. Mason and his partner Art pull themselves away from the minutia of the four or five cases they’re working for an hour or so of dirty street fighting practice. With the high tension anxiety/sudden low tension life he leads, the irregular meal times, and too much coffee–Mason struggles to keep his weight down. He played beer league hockey until a few years, but then his knees went.

He heads down later to the basement forensic specialist lab to check the white board where hits on cases they’re working are displayed. He hounds the forensics people on fingerprints they sent in two weeks ago. Ginger, his long-time lady love calls 10:15. Another non-profit fundraising job has collapsed under her, no fault of Ginger’s. Mason doesn’t always say the right thing to Ginger—he always knows how to talk to some dirt bag in the interview room–but this time he does. They arrange to meet for lunch on the bluff above the ocean. Both of them know a detective’s life is iffy. Anything could happen at the last minute—and does this time as well.

When one of the occasional whodunit murders comes along that eats up the budget and gives Mason hives, Laura Fredericks is assigned to them. Fredericks is an over-eager, loud and brassy investigator with a crush on Mason. 11:15 a.m. and they get a report of a dead body in the high-end real estate part of the town. Is it a natural death, a suicide, or a homicide? Fredericks fusses and fumes, cursing slow drivers. Even cops can’t get through the traffic in Santa Monica quickly.

Fredericks brags about taking down the krav maga instructor. She could put Mason down in a heartbeat, and she knows he knows it. Finally he tells her to tame down her mouth, or get out and walk. Her red-head, freckled face goes pink with embarrassment. Mason makes a string of short calls on his cell phone keeping other cases going. Illegal use of cell phones while driving really sets a good example for the citizens.

The dead body is a suicide, so Mason and Fredericks are back at the station for a meeting to update the Sarge. Then a call comes in that the new light rail line that’s in the test phase from downtown L.A. to the ocean has crashed into a truck. What’s it going to be like on hot August weekends when the train brings half a million people to the beach looking for a good time?

Back at the station at 3 p.m., Mason snatches a half-hour to write reports. Report-writing, a major activity in a cop’s life, never seems to appear on TV cop dramas. Eighteen new emails: updates from the forensic specialists, stupid cop jokes, BOLOs, notifications from the FBI and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Four insistent phone messages he can’t ignore. He postpones his weapons qualifying test for another week. Gnawing hunger pains at 4 o’clock. He clatters downstairs to the vending machine in the lobby for a candy bar.

Another call: a disgruntled girlfriend diming out the cheating boyfriend that Mason’s been dogging in a case involving a two-year-old gang murder. Is she believable? Will she change her mind if this goes to court? Move it, Mason. Down to a beach parking lot…more traffic. She isn’t there, but now he’s got a name and a phone number.

More report writing. More knock and talks on doors looking for a witness to an assault on a Korean tourist staying at one of the luxury hotels overlooking the ocean and the pier. His daughter calls and Mason’s face brightens.

His day ends with a call from the victim of a carjacking. His spirits sag. No, nothing new to tell her. He slaps his partner on the shoulder as he passes his cubicle, checking out for the day.

Mason passes the Watch Commander’s office with the dancing display of the map of Santa Monica showing the location of all the cars out on patrol around the city.

He accomplished something today, he hopes.

Here’s a link to reading more about my Dave Mason and Santa Monica novels.


A Very Private High School is the fourth book in the Detective Dave Mason mystery series, published by Pertinacity Press, July 2015.

Santa Monica, California, is home to the homeless, a city of haves and have nots, ripe for dirty politicians, psychopathic homeowners, car thieves, and celebrity troublemakers. A vicious carjacking maims a firefighter that Homicide Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department used to tomcat around with.

Carjackers up the stakes when a hit-and-run linked to them leads Mason to an elite private high school where a boiling controversy is already erupting over financial shenanigans.

The investigation suggests the school’s director likes bad boys and dark, hidden places. On sketchy evidence, Mason needs to convince the brass that funds from the embezzlement are filtering into a Russian carjacking and theft operation. Everything changes when Ginger, the love of Mason’s life and the school’s fundraiser disappears.

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Meet the author
Mar Preston is the author of 5 police procedurals and four writing craft books. Her whodunits celebrate the mean streets of Santa Monica and a fictional California mountain village somewhat like where she lives. She is a co-founder of the local SPCA, a dog park, a network of low-power radio stations, and picks up road kill for her wildlife rehab buddies to feed the big raptors.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Two people (US entries only, please) selected at random will receive a print copy of A Very Private High School. Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends December 5, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

My Musing ~ Pacific Homicide by Patricia Smiley

Pacific Homicide by Patricia Smiley is the first book in the NEW “Pacific Homicide” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, November 2016

Pacific HomicideFrom LA’s glitz and glamour to its horrific crime scenes, homicide detective Davie Richards sees it all

Most cops spend their entire careers without firing a weapon in the line of duty. LAPD Homicide Detective Davie Richards is an outlier, a cop who killed a suspect to save another officer’s life.

While she waits for the police commission to rule on the shooting, she’s called out to probe the gruesome homicide of Anya Nosova, a nineteen-year-old Russian beauty whose body is found in the Los Angeles sewer system. With her own case in limbo, Davie knows that any mistakes in the investigation could end her career. As she hunts for the murderer, somebody begins to hunt her . . . and it’s no longer just her job that’s on the line.

This story quickly grabbed my attention as I became immersed in all that was happening and I could not put this book down until it was all said and done. We are introduced to Davie Richards, a homicide detective in L.A, who carries a lot of baggage and it’s that baggage that makes the heroine of this story stand out and more determined to prove that she got what it takes to do her job. The narrative contained within these pages was descriptive in detail, allowing me to visually feel part of the action as Davie went about her day to day search for a murderer. This well-written drama was staged perfectly with multiple mini-plots that feasted into the overall telling of this tale from the police investigation, to the backstory of Davie’s family and to one man’s revenge, all culminating in an ending worthy of this debut novel. With an intriguing cast of characters, engaging storyline and actionable conversations, this was a fantastic read and I can’t wait for the next one in this new series.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

A Day in the Life of Detective TJ Sweeney by Susan Van Kirk

The LocketNice of you to come along in my squad car as we cruise through my town of Endurance and check out what’s happening on my way to work. Pardon my sneezing, however. I seem to have caught a cold, and this miserable, wet weather is not helping it one bit. November in the Midwest. Ya gotta love it.

Actually, you can see Endurance is preparing for Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas holiday season. The Penny Saved Shoe Store over there has children’s pictures of turkeys plastered on their windows for a coloring contest, and over on your side of the car is Maloney’s Law Offices and the Senior Center. Mildred’s Boutique has a tableau of dummies in the window reenacting one of the Norman Rockwell’s paintings about Thanksgiving. The business district loves to decorate.

My friend and former teacher, Grace Kimball, would tell you it’s a nice town, but Grace is notoriously naïve, and I’ve had to help her out of some tough situations, like the time last summer when she found herself stalked by a killer who was setting fires in town. Grace is sometimes too smart and too curious for her own good. But, you know, she’s my friend, and we’ve got each other’s backs.

Grace mentored me through college. You see, in high school I figured I’d just slouch my way through, keep my nose clean, and grab some Cs. Well, and some ZZZs.

Then I ran into Grace Kimball.

She put me in her English Honors class, and even though I worked hard not to cooperate, she was always a step ahead. She went to my house and talked to Mama Sweeney. I was in huge trouble then. You see, my dad split when my brother and I were young. It wasn’t easy being a Caucasian guy married to an African- American woman and hearing those comments under the breaths of your fellow workers at the garage. I’ll never forgive him for deserting us, but my mother did long ago. I admire Mama because it wasn’t easy for a woman to raise two kids in such a tough time. She is formidable.

Grace and Mama joined forces. Believe me, no one could fight that.

High school was tough back then for someone like me growing up in a mostly white town as a mixed-race teenager. I was smart, beautiful, and not going to take any crap from anyone, least of all the guys. Take my latest guy who works construction and has amazing abs. He just told me he loved me, and that doesn’t do it for me. I’ll miss his gorgeous muscles. Yeah, you heard me sigh. If only life were spent exclusively in the bedroom … but he didn’t know of Eudora Welty or Richard Wright or Bessie Smith or Miles Davis or Fibonacci numbers or “A Clean Well-lighted Place.”

Well, that’s all water under the bridge. Back to my friendship with Grace.

She, of course, believed in me and sent me off to college where I thought I’d major in English. Instead, I fell in love with law enforcement and came back here to Endurance. Smashed the police exam with the highest score in history, and they had to put me on the force. Me, a biracial female. Then I moved up to detective. I’d never had a murder case till last summer, and hope I never do again.

Oh, excuse me. That’s the station calling my cell.

“Yeah, Myers.”

“TJ. Just got a call in from a crew putting in the foundation for that new dog park out on the highway west of here.”

“And?

“Sounds like they’ve dug up some bones.”

“Don’t tell me—dog park, dog bones? Right. Ha, ha.”

“Nope. The Homestretch Funeral Home is on the way out there with a canopy to put over the site, and it could be human bones. Don’t know yet, but you’d better get out there.”

“I’m on it, Myers. Call Doc Martinez and get him out there with his coroner’s bag, and then call the crime scene investigators from Woodbury.”

Sorry for the short ride, but I’m going to have to drop you off at the station. Myers, the desk clerk, is great company, and he’ll tell you all about the town. Just don’t ask him about his latest ailment.


The Lockett: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney is an Endurance novella, published by Prairie Lights Publishing, April 2016.

The Big Band Era–Dancing on the Rooftop–Romance in the Air–and Murder in the Shadows

“… the dispatcher called to tell her it was time to move the bones.”

After solving a double homicide in the hot Midwest summer, Endurance police detective TJ Sweeney isn’t given long to rest. A construction crew has found human bones while digging a building foundation on the outskirts of town.

Sweeney’s investigation soon concludes this is a murder victim, but from many decades earlier. Trying to identify the remains and put a name on the killer takes the detective through a maze of dead ends and openings, twists and turns.

And then it becomes personal. . .

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Meet the author
Susan Van Kirk grew up in Galesburg, Illinois, and was educated at Knox College and the University of Illinois. She Susan Kirktaught high school English for thirty-four years in the small town of Monmouth, Illinois. She taught an additional ten years at Monmouth College. Her short story, “War and Remembrance,” was published by Teacher Magazine and became one of the chapters in her creative nonfiction memoir, The Education of a Teacher (Including Dirty Books and Pointed Looks).

Her first mystery novel about the town of Endurance, Three May Keep a Secret, was published in 2014 by Five Star Publishing/Cengage. She published an Endurance novella as an e-book titled The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney in April, 2016. Marry in Haste, her second Endurance mystery novel, comes out November, 2016, also from Five Star Publishing/Cengage.

You can follow her book news on www.susanvankirk.com.

All comments are welcomed.