I must be a frustrated architect. If you’ve read my past books you may have noticed how often a building figures into the plot—in Takeover it was the gleaming but secretive Federal Reserve with its marble and gilt. In Trail of Blood it was the crumbling but ominous structure with its hidden rooms and upcoming date with the wrecking ball, and also the trains, the churning steel behemoths that chugged along their tracks at its base. In Defensive Wounds, of course, it was the landmark Terminal Tower with its old-money flavor and its dizzyingly high observation deck. I like large buildings, vast hallways carved from stone, arches and curlicues and history. This is probably why, after a high school trip to Washington DC, I got a bachelor’s degree in political science despite having no aptitude or talent for politics. Turns out I didn’t like politics. I just liked the buildings.
In Blunt Impact my tendencies are at it again. Theresa is caught in the controversy of a new county jail—a sweeping skyscraper still under construction. OSHA whistleblowers and missing money, criminal elements using the site for their own purposes and a homely but smart district attorney who becomes more interested in Theresa than the intrigue surround the forensic scientist and her new friend, a tough but endangered little girl named Anna—better known as Ghost.
Ghost has a unique lifestyle, loved by her construction worker mother and disabled grandmother but constantly slipping out of her home to roam the back alleys of the large city, looking for the father whose identity has always been kept secret from her. Nothing all that bad ever happens—until she witnesses her mother’s murder, the beautiful young woman thrown from the 23rd floor. Ghost will not rest until she learns the truth, which means that Theresa cannot rest until Ghost is safe.
I learned during the writing, as I always do. I learned about concrete, expensive and specific, and funding and the difference between a beam and a column (the first is horizontal, the second vertical). But what I really wanted to learn about was the pervasiveness (or not) of corruption within the construction trades. Do you think I could find one single book written about the Big Dig or any other construction project that wound up costing much more than expected? I could not.
The setting, of course, gives me the opportunity to mess with the acrophobic in all of us. But truly it’s the openness that intrigues me, the image of the wind rushing by as my characters get an unobstructed view of the city from their aerie, with that accompanying sense of danger and freedom and excitement so rarely obtained in our safe, careful lives.
And isn’t that, after all, what books are all about?
Blunt Impact, available April 1, featuring forensic scientist Theresa MacLean and a series of murders surrounding a skyscraper under construction in downtown Cleveland. The first to die is young, sexy concrete worker Samantha, thrown from the 23rd floor. The only witness is her 11 year old daughter Anna, nicknamed Ghost. Ghost will stop at nothing to find her mother’s killer, and Theresa will stop at nothing to keep Ghost safe.
Also, Kindle owners can find a bargain in my new book The Prague Project, written under the name Beth Cheylan. A death in West Virginia sends FBI agent Ellie Gardner and NYPD Counterterrorism lieutenant Michael Stewart on a chase across Europe as they track stolen nukes and lost Nazi gold, hoping to avert the death of millions of people.