Yay! The day has finally come! Cloistered to Death is here! If you didn’t pre-order, you can now get the print and Kindle versions here, PDF/epub/mobi here through Smashwords, and at all of your other favorite ebook sellers.
While you wait, here’s a brief snippet. Jamie is on a writing retreat at a monastery.
I was deep into a primary document written by a Mackenzie chief when I heard voices from the kitchen. A man said, in a very un-monklike tone, “Fuck off, Trent. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
A deeper voice said, “Yes, I do. You think Father Greg allowed Martin to greet the guests as a reward? Hell, no. He was punishing him for letting Lawrence hit him in the face. You know the rule.”
“Yeah, yeah. No marks.”
“Besides, Joe, you’ve got no reason to be jealous of Martin. Unless you want to be music director.”
Joe snorted. “Noooo, thank you. The turnover rate for that job is way too high.”
Nothing else was said.
I sat there for a minute, reflecting on what I’d just heard. No marks? Unless the monastery had a goat named Lawrence, Brother Martin had lied to me. And what did that remark about the turnover rate for music directors mean? Martin had said that his predecessor had died.
It occurred to me that I probably shouldn’t tell Pete about the conversation. At least not until I got home.
Woohoo! You can now preorder Cloistered to Death at both Amazon and Smashwords. Release date is May 28. That’s Memorial Day, so you won’t have to sneak and read at work. 🙂 If you order through Nook, Kobo, iBooks, etc., it should be available in another day or two.
The print version will probably also be released on the 28th, but I can’t set up a preorder through Createspace.
Jamie Brodie is on deadline. The proposal for his second book is due, and he desperately needs uninterrupted writing time. At the suggestion of patron, friend, and former monk Clinton Kenneally – and over the protests of Pete Ferguson, Jamie’s husband – Jamie schedules a week-long writing retreat at a local monastery. But the monastery is not exactly what Jamie expected…which might explain the flicker of disquiet in Clinton’s eyes.
Meanwhile, Kevin Brodie and Jon Eckhoff are dealing with a dead drug dealer, doggie diarrhea, and a camera crew from the reality TV show Two Days to Solve. The camera loves Jon, and vice versa. Kevin’s just trying to refrain from swearing on TV. But when the victim turns out to be someone from Kevin’s past, the case gets a whole lot more interesting.
And there’s no way it’ll be solved in two days.
Just over a month to go until publication… 😀 Enjoy this teaser!!
TWO DAYS TO SOLVE
Los Angeles, California
Monday, April 23, 2018
Voiceover: Homicide. The ultimate crime. When a murder is committed in Los Angeles, the LAPD’s homicide detectives have two days to solve the crime before the trail begins to go cold.
Tonight, a murder was committed. Tonight, we ride with two of LAPD’s finest, the homicide detectives of the West Los Angeles Division, as they hunt a killer.
Detective Brodie (in the passenger seat, speaking to the camera): Our victim is a male, found in front of an empty house that’s for sale. A neighbor was outside with his dog and heard the gunshot. He didn’t see anything but he called it in.
Detective Kevin Brodie has been with the Los Angeles Police Department for sixteen years, ten of them with West LA homicide.
Brodie: We have far fewer homicides in West LA than in most of the other divisions.
Detective Eckhoff (driving): We may not have as many, but the motives aren’t that different.
His partner, Detective Jonathan Eckhoff, has been with LAPD for fourteen years, seven as a homicide detective.
Eckhoff: Drugs and money. There are a lot of drugs in them thar hills. Lots of money, too.
Brodie: We get a fair number of body dumps. Up in the canyons, this side of Mulholland. Someone’s dog discovers a victim and we have no idea where the crime scene is.
Eckhoff: This time, we know.
The unmarked car is waved through a checkpoint and pulls up to the curb in front of a large house. Uniformed police and crime scene personnel swarm the site. There is a For Sale sign at the end of the driveway.
Brodie (to a uniformed officer): Hey, Ben, what’ve we got?
Officer: White male, shot in the chest at close range.
Brodie and Eckhoff approach the the house, where the victim lies just outside the front door in a pool of blood. The victim is wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and is barefoot.
Brodie: You’re not kidding, close range. (He leans in to study the wound.) Shooter must have been less than three feet away.
Eckhoff: Someone he trusted. (He scans the scene.) Oh, shit. His shoes are missing. Is this a copycat?
Brodie: No way. (To the camera) About six months ago, Harbor Division arrested a guy who’d been stabbing homeless people and stealing their shoes. He’s in jail.
Officer: This guy doesn’t look homeless. Or stabbed.
Brodie (glances down the driveway): It’s gotta be coincidence, but we’ll keep it in mind. How did he get here? (to coroner’s investigator) He doesn’t have ID?
Coroner’s Investigator: Not yet. There’s nothing in his pockets. Not even a quarter.
Brodie (still studying the body): He’s got a defensive wound.
Eckhoff (demonstrates to the camera): Someone knows he’s about to get shot, he’s likely to throw up his hands. Doesn’t help, the bullet goes right through, but it’s a reflex reaction.
CI (kneeling by the body): Chest wound isn’t a through and through, so we’ll get the bullet.
Eckhoff (looks up at the house): This is an odd place for a robbery.
Brodie: I don’t think this started off as a robbery.
Crime scene personnel are taking multiple pictures.
Brodie: He looks vaguely familiar, kinda like a guy I played ball with in college.
Eckhoff (in some disbelief): You know him?
Pre-order links coming soon!
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I’ve created several sections: for characters (Family, Friends, Cops, Librarians, Exes), one for places, one for covers, one for Coming Attractions (to give you and me ideas about forthcoming books), one for writing spaces that inspire me, and several others.
If you want to see how I envision Jamie and his family, friends, etc., check it out! Here’s a tidbit, from the Coming Attractions page for the next book, Cloistered to Death.
From a practical standpoint, I’m not much of a believer in horoscopes. It’s hard to balance the concept of star signs with the fact that the light we’re seeing from the stars that supposedly guide us was emitted millions of years ago. The stars in that constellation I was born under might have gone supernova by the time I came along, and we won’t know it for another thousand years.
But that doesn’t mean that horoscopes aren’t fun! Cloistered to Death ends on Jamie’s 38th birthday, which got me thinking about birthdays and horoscopes. I thought it might be entertaining to see how well Jamie and his family’s personalities fit their signs.
All of the below quotes come from https://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/horoscopes-astrology/
Jamie was born May 17, so he is a Taurus. “Tauruses born on May 17 enjoy the pursuit of excellence. They are intelligent though not showy about what they know; for this reason they may not be perceived as especially brilliant by others. And that’s fine, since they are not concerned with how their actions are perceived by others. Because they have considerable leadership potential, May 17 individuals are likely to surround themselves with more “followers” than equals. They are so strong-minded that to be with other people like themselves can create conflict. In love and romance, they are discerning partners. They know what they want in a mate and will not settle for anything less. They often marry later in life.”
Sounds about right, huh?
Kevin, born March 24, is an Aries. “Aries individuals are willful, positive, and independent. People born under this sign have amazing stamina and a potent drive to succeed…Even if he isn’t handsome — though he usually is — he’s the one noticed by everybody when he walks into a room…Key characteristic: Leadership.”
Pete, born July 3, is a Cancer. “Cancer individuals are intelligent, organized, generous, home-loving, and tenacious. They are also devoted to family members and provide enormous emotional support…With their gentle and caring spirit, Cancerians are the ones to whom others turn with problems, worries, and life-choice concerns. Despite their ability to support and nurture their pals, they do not make friends easily. This may be because they take friendship seriously and don’t bother to indulge superficial associations…With their talent for introspection and self-study, July 3 individuals make fine counselors, therapists, and psychologists.”
Heh. I swear I did not consult astrology before I assigned these guys their birthdays.
Dave Brodie is a Sagittarius, December 16. “A December 16 Sagittarius is extraordinary. They have a disciplined nature and can live on little, as long as they can express their inner fire…They have much wisdom…They have an intense love nature and may prefer abstinence if no one special is in their lives…With Jupiter as the ruling planet, people born under this sign are considered to be understanding and principled…The typical Sagittarian man is well-traveled and well-read. He has boundless enthusiasm. Sagittarian men need to love their work. Career concerns often take them away from family life, but they aren’t as driven as other fire-signs. They are philosophical and a bit old-fashioned.”
Jeff’s birthday is January 28, which makes him an Aquarius. (Full disclosure: I’m an Aquarius too.) “Aquarius individuals are intelligent, progressive and independent. With Uranus as the ruling planet, people born under this sign are free-thinking and unconventional. They will fight avidly for the rights of others…They [Aquarius men] care about a number of issues — politics, the environment, the economy — and believe they can make a difference…They have the common sense to be as tolerant and forgiving of their own faults as those of others…They have an affinity for math, science, and music and may find a rewarding career in these fields.”
I haven’t assigned specific dates for birthdays for the other characters. I’ll get around to that one of these days.
(Full disclosure: I totally stole this idea from Josh Lanyon.)
It’s a gorgeous spring evening in Southern California. Blue sky, a light breeze. My Lyft driver drops me at the gate leading to Pete Ferguson and Jamie Brodie’s front gate, and I ring the bell.
The first sound I hear is a deep “woof.” Ammo. Then I spot Pete, who studies me curiously as he approaches. I say, “Hey, I’m Meg.”
He almost hides his surprise, but isn’t entirely successful. “Hi. I’m Pete. But you know that.”
I laugh as he unlocks the door. “Yep. I’d know you anywhere.”
Jamie is on his feet, by a wrought iron table with three chairs. “Hey, Ms. Perry. I’m Jamie.”
I shake his hand. “You have to call me Meg, okay? And no ma’am-ing me, either.”
He grins. “I’ll do my best.”
Pete asks, “What would you like to drink? Coke?”
“Oh, no thanks, not this late in the day. Water’s fine.”
He cocks his head. “Beer?”
I hesitate, and Jamie says, “You’re not driving.”
“True. Okay, beer sounds great.”
Pete disappears into the house, and I take the opportunity to say hello to Ammo. “Hey, big guy. What a beautiful boy.”
Ammo wriggles with delight. Jamie says, “Did you have Labs?”
“Yup, two of them. One was named Ralphie.”
Pete returns with a bottle of Carlsberg, and we sit. I ask Pete, “You looked surprised when you saw me. What was that about?”
“Oh.” He blushes. “You’re – um – older than I thought you’d be.”
“I’m almost as old as both of your dads. Why did you think I’d be younger?”
He shrugged, sheepishly. “Um – because we’re younger?”
I waggle my bottle of beer at him. “Isn’t that kinda ageist, Dr. Ferguson?”
“I didn’t mean it that way.” Now he’s flustered.
“I’m teasing. It’s fine. My editor is younger than both of you. He keeps me from making old-lady mistakes.” I look around the front garden. “This is a terrific setting.”
Jamie says, “Yeah, thanks for this. It’s one of our favorite spots.”
I fortify myself with another drink. “You know… You live in the wrong location.”
They speak in stereo. “Huh?”
“I modeled your house after a place that I found on Trulia, back when I started researching the books, but I forgot to write down the address. I thought the model was here, but it’s actually on the other side of Wilshire.”
They’re both eyeing me with a combination of fascination and horror. Jamie says, “Which building?”
“The one with blue trim. Several buildings back from the bagel place.”
Pete is laughing now. “How’d you figure out the mistake?”
“I came here last summer, looking for your house. The building that sits here in real life is nothing like I had pictured. But I knew you were somewhere on 17th near Wilshire, so we searched until we found it.”
Jamie is grinning. “What else have you gotten wrong?”
“Your library. I thought there were two public entrances.” I shrug. “Oops. And I have no idea where the reference desk is, and I don’t think that there actually are any offices on the second floor. It’s hard to tell from the floor plans.”
“Where did you place the reference desk?”
“Sort of vaguely down the hall from the front door…”
He laughs. “I’m not gonna tell you where it is, you know.”
“Yeah, I know.” I sip my Carlsberg. “So. You two must have questions for me.”
Pete asks, “What have you got against moms?”
Not the question that I was expecting. “What? Nothing. I can’t tell you why Jamie’s mom had that car accident, or why your mom was such a bitch. It’s just something that I knew, same as I knew that you both were gay. It’s almost like you told me yourselves.”
Jamie is frowning. “That’s weird.”
“Try writing fiction sometime. Weird shit happens. For example.” The beer is warming me to my subject. “Jon Eckhoff. When I first put him on paper, I had no idea he’d turn out to be a major character. I didn’t know that he and Liz would be an item until he walked up to the reference desk.”
Jamie says, “Seriously? That’s amazing.”
“Like I said. Weird shit. Don’t tell Jon. What else do you want to know?”
They exchange a glance, and Jamie crosses his arms. “What’s this we hear about you closing out the series?”
“Twenty is a nice, round number. I like round numbers. Aren’t you sick of stumbling over bodies?”
He can’t deny it. “There is that.”
“I’ll check in on you from time to time. Promise.”
Pete says, “You’re not gonna kill us off, are you?”
“Of course not. These are cozy mysteries. Main characters don’t die.”
Jamie asks, “But secondary characters might? Is that what you’re saying?”
I sigh. “I’d be violating the Prime Directive if I said more.”
Pete snorts. Jamie laughs. “Yeah, okay. Which of us librarians is modeled after you?”
“Good question! I’ve spread myself out amongst you, to some extent. You and I share opinions on almost everything. When you react to something, you’re usually speaking – or swearing – with my mouth.”
That gets another snort from Pete. Jamie asks, “Who else?”
“Sheila Meadows is basically me. West Virginia native, Florida State alumnus, close in age, and I have an MBA from the University of Central Florida, same as she does.”
“Ah.” Jamie grins. “What about Kristen?”
“I wish I was like Kristen! She’s one of my favorite characters.”
Pete says, “I hope we’re your favorites…”
“Well, of course, you two are my favorites. You’re my stars.”
Jamie asks, “What about Liz?”
“I adore Liz. One of my friends in my writing group said once, ‘Liz is Jamie’s id.’ She’s right.”
That gets both of them laughing. Pete notes my nearly empty bottle. “Another?”
“Sure, why not?”
He goes inside. I lean closer to Jamie and lower my voice. “Listen, I’m sorry about the sexual incompatibility. How’s that…going?”
He instantly sobers. “I hate this phrase, but it is what it is, right? We’ve settled into a comfortable compromise. It’s the best I can do.”
“I apologize again. You know, initially I was going to leave you with Ethan.”
His eyes widen. “What??”
“Yeah. The life you were planning with Ethan? The original idea was for you to have it. But a writing coach told me that you needed conflict in your life.” I nod at the door. “He’s your conflict.”
Jamie stares at me. “You are shitting me…”
Pete comes back through the door and hands me a second bottle, glancing back and forth at us. “You have the strangest looks on your faces. What were you talking about?”
Jamie seems at a loss for words. I say, “Conflict. The spice of life.”
Pete looks skeptical, but doesn’t pursue it. “Which of us did you create first?”
That breaks Jamie out of his stunned state. “What?”
“Kevin was first.”
They both sit back, regarding me with interest. Their facial expressions are so alike that it’s funny. Pete says, “No kidding.”
“It’s true. Kevin is the character whose head I can’t quite get into, but he was the first character I had.”
Pete smiles. “Kev will enjoy knowing that.”
“What, that I can’t get into his head?”
Jamie laughs. “Yeah, that too. So, tell us about your Scottish roots. You must have them.”
I say, “Remember Blue Tartan Tours?”
Pete groans, and Jamie snickers. “Don’t tell me you’re an Elliot.”
“Guilty as charged. Also Armstrong and Williamson. All Lowlanders, as far as I know.”
“My Armstrongs were, yes. My Williamsons came directly from Fife.”
“Have you been to Brodie Castle?”
“Oh, yes. You’re going back this summer.”
Pete frowns. “The fact that you know that suggests that we’re gonna have trouble there.”
I wave my bottle airily. “Don’t worry. Your vacation will be nearly hitch-free.”
“It’s that word nearly that I don’t care for.”
“Seriously, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Seriously.” I’m feeling more buzzed than I should, and check the time. “I’d better get back to the hotel. I’m catching the ferry to Catalina in the morning.”
Jamie says, “Why don’t you let me drive you to the hotel?”
“Oh, no, you don’t have to do that, I’ll summon Lyft…”
“It’s no trouble.” He stands up and gestures for me to follow him into the house.
Pete says, “It’s the least we can do. For, you know, creating us and all.”
He has a point.
Shortly thereafter, Jamie and I are in the CR-V, headed for Del Mar. I say, “You had an ulterior motive for offering to drive me.”
He slides a sideways glance at me. “Not ulterior. Just a side benefit.”
I mimic Pete’s dry tone. “Uh huh.”
He grins. “What’s in Catalina?”
“Meeting up with a group of friends. Several of them are huge fans of yours.”
“That’s so weird.”
“You have a faithful following. My readers love you.”
“Do you make much money off of us?”
“Thanks for the inheritance, by the way.” We’re at a stoplight, and he smiles at me. He does have a gorgeous smile. “I mean, that whole thing was a mess, with Gavin and Alexandra, and Belinda…”
“I know. Do you see much of Drew Jemison?”
“Yeah, actually, we get together a couple of times a month. And we’ll be seeing a lot more of him soon.”
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t know everything you get up to in between cases.”
“Good. Anyway, Drew is buying the townhouse next to us.”
“No kidding! The one where Ashley Bennett…”
He grimaces. “Yeah, don’t remind me. Drew knows, and he doesn’t care. The house has been empty for a while and he’s tired of renting.”
“And he can afford it.”
“Thanks to you.”
We drive in silence for a few minutes. Jamie is clearly itching to ask me something. I finally say, “Okay. Out with it.”
“Secondary characters dying.” He grips the wheel more tightly. “Pete will forget that you mentioned it.”
“Listen. Sometimes, things change as I’m writing, so I can’t always predict what’s going to happen to whom. But you have nothing to worry about.”
I sigh. “Right now, there are two. One expected, one not. And I am not going to tell you anything else.”
He grumbles. “Okay, fine.”
We arrive at my hotel. He parks, escorts me to the door, and waits while I unlock it and turn on the lights. I turn to him. “Thanks for the ride and the beer. I’ve totally enjoyed this evening.”
“Thank you. For everything.” There’s that brilliant smile again. “Especially my dad.”
I grin. “Best dad on the planet.”
“Damn straight.” He hugs me – he’s a wonderful hugger – then says, “Am I gonna wake up tomorrow morning and think that I dreamed all of this?”
He laughs. “You are a hoot, Ms. Perry. Maybe I’ll see you again sometime. Ma’am.”
I laugh too. “Maybe you will.”
He goes back to his car and drives away, waving. I wave back until he turns onto the street and is gone.