About Me

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I received teaching and engineering degrees and have traveled extensively, living ten years outside the US. I moved from the big city of Houston to a small sleepy community in North Carolina, which has been a tremendous change and a great inspiration for my novels, full of the local color. My time has been filled with writing and helping to physically construct three additions to our former farmhouse. I have a great view of the mountains ten miles away across the broad valley and the sunsets are breathtaking. I am an avid reader of all kinds of mystery and contemporary fiction.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Do Hurricanes Really Change Lives?

Today, as I was sipping my 20-year Cockburn port, I was reminiscing about my days as a Mechanical Engineer in a large refinery in Texas. Even when the hurricane was close to the coast and the local news station said that everyone should stay home, the refinery in which I worked said that everyone should report to work. Against everything in my being, I did go to work, only to be told around noon to go home. In the meantime, the management asked that I go around and see why other people were not at work. Some were afraid for their spouses and others were too afraid to come to work.

I knew a lot of people who were, as we all know, human. They had lives with children, loves and a hatred for the hurricanes. As I reminisced about those days, I remembered a book I read about a hurricane devastating a chemical plant and the lives of those who worked there. I honestly believe that this scenario could have happened in real life. What follows is my review of that book, one of only two books that I have reviewed on this blog. The book was called "The Sleeping Dragons of Texas."

Sleeping Dragons is a murder mystery involving people trapped in a chemical plant during a hurricane. They cannot get out because the roads are flooded. They cannot turn off the power and just sit by and wait because that would be like dropping a hot glass into ice water. Red hot steel would snap like glass if cooled too fast. The sleeping dragons are chemicals which would escape and their fiery tongues would lash out in every direction and scorch everyone in their path. The manager is conflicted. Shutdown early and lose your next promotion. Try to get through it without pain. But make a mistake, shutdown too late and people die.
In the midst of all the technical matters are real people. Loving. Lusting. Hating. Helping. Trying to get ahead. Trying to avoid work. Trying to find love. Trying to decide who they are. Real people with real emotions and real problems. How do real people resolve their conflicts? Not generally with murder. But when the opportunity presents itself, real people do kill. When real people lust and love, their reason is conflicted. Murder seems a reasonable choice.

I'm trying to describe the plot without giving it away, but the plot does not go in a straight line. The plot goes around like the winds of the hurricane. Who is guilty and who will go to jail? What can be proven and what cannot? A good murder mystery involves, not only who is guilty, but can they be convicted. Is there clear proof? Interspersed with this are two executives looking back at the murders and trying to make sense of human nature. Something that most of us think are impossible for top executives.

Danger abounds and the danger not only threatens the lives of the people in the plant, but the people in nearby towns. The people in the plant battle the hurricane and the plant, but also worries about their loved ones.

As I said, having worked in a refinery, I found the plot plausible for a chemical plant on the Gulf Coast and not at all beyond imagination. I'm just glad I no longer work at such a plant.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bargain eBook - Murder Along the Blue Ridge


Murder Along the Blue Ridge is available today through Thursday at the bargain price of $0.99. This is 75 percent off the normal price of the Rachel Christie murder mystery that takes place along the Blue Ridge Parkway in which two people die from cyanide poisoning--a runaway bridegroom and an informant for narcotics officer Deputy Skyler of the Stone City police. When a bag of cyanide crystals is found in Skyler's home, the state police arrest him, saying they have more than enough evidence to put a noose around his neck for the crime.

Skyler claims he was framed by one of his many enemies and begs private detective Rachel Christie for help. Rachel dislikes Skyler because of their history and refuses the case even though she doesn't believe he's guilty.

Skyler says he has no motive and no connection to the runaway groom. Or does he? An indiscretion and cover-up fifteen years ago may be at the bottom of it all, but no one is willing to talk. With the dead bodies mounting, Rachel still refuses the case. Finally, Skyler's eleven-year-old daughter steps in and Rachel can't say no.

Although this is the sixth in the series, it can be read as a stand alone mystery.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow! Snow! Snow!


My last post was on the small amount of snow that we had and how the local weatherman made a big deal out of it. Well, this time I'm making a big deal out of it. When I woke up this morning, we had twelve inches of snow. After the snow finally ended, the ruler I held measured seventeen inches. I know some of you who live in the north may not think this is much snow, but this is the most our small town has had in over twenty years. Definitely the most I've seen since I've lived here and that has been a little over ten years.

You would think that this would make a good day for staying indoors and writing, but, no. For me, it was a day of watching the snow and the scenery unfold. From dark clouds in the distance over the Blue Ridge to whiteout conditions where nothing could be seen for more than a few feet, it made for a day of contemplation and daydreaming. Come to think of it, it was a good day for planning scenes for future books--if only I could remember things that long.

It will be another few days before we dig ourselves out of the snow and clear our 800-foot driveway and see civilization again. Hopefully in that time, I can come up with scenes for my next Rachel Christie mystery.