Author Archives: Literary Titan
Upon Broken Wings follows teens Andrew and Kiernan as they journey to the afterlife where they must face the dark consequences of their actions. What was the inspiration behind this emotional novel?
Reedy – Our inspiration came from the unexpected loss of a family friend many years ago. My writing of the original rough draft/screenplay was a way to work through my own shattered feelings.
Later with the help of my co-author, a/k/a my sister, we rewrote the story as the novel Upon Broken Wings. Our greatest purpose we decided together was to save a life, any life, many lives. Hence the the theme of finding hope all around us.
Wade – All stories are the same in that we have our main characters attempt to achieve a goal and at the same time, it is up to us, the authors, to throw stones at them every step of the way. Being the parent of an autistic child, I included some of my own experiences into the creation of young Andrew, and as such we threw some pretty hefty stones.
Andrew and Kiernan struggle with their own demons while also trying to support one another. What were some themes you wanted to capture with their characters?
Reedy – Finding hope in the most desperate situations, learning to trust our loved one and ourselves.
Wade – Reaching out when we feel the most alone.
I find that the best books often have parts of the author in them. Did you insert anything from your own life into this book?
Reedy – I grew up during the 70s and 80s in a Catholic family, hiding who I really was from, well, every one. So I was Kiernan.
Wade – As I mentioned earlier, through me experiences as the mother of an autistic child, I was able to define Andrew.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Reedy & Wade – We’re actually working on a three book saga, involving modern day druids, ancient deities and demons, and we are sticking with young adults who must discover who they are while saving the world. Were hoping to release the first early next year.
Bound by a dark act of hate and despair, high school freshmen, Andrew and Kiernan, learn that their untimely deaths did not bring an end to their pain, but only began the suffering of those left behind. While his lost memories return, Andrew must master seemingly impossible feats, both spiritual and physical.
As a dark spirit stalks Kiernan through the borderlands of life and death, he must also face the pain his actions have caused his loved ones. To save both their souls, Andrew must convince Kiernan to return to life and open his eyes to the love and beauty which had always been there.
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Red and Blue is a fascinating story that combines classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes and adds many new twists. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this story?
I’m a huge Broadway play so the big inspiration was Into the Woods. I watch the original Broadway play and the Disney movie. In college in my theater class, we had to do a project on a play. I chose Into the Woods by doing an original monologue. “Red & Blue” was born from that monologue of what happened after the total disaster of the story.
There were so many interesting characters, some pulled straight from fairy tales. What was your favorite character to write for?
Humpty Dumpty was one of my favorite characters to write. He’s such a nervous character. I pictured him full of cracks and could completely fix him from being pushed off that wall. While I was writing him, I was laughing cause it was so much fun. I tried to have him as the comic relief in some ways until you meet Mother Goose. She’s a character herself in the story.
Red and Blue have an intriguing relationship. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
The character development kind of just flowed from the little girl we all know from the storying Little Red Riding Hood to the character that is in the story. I wanted her to be different from the character that has been written for the character. She is either changing into a werewolf or an assassin with everything in between, I didn’t want to go in that direction. I wanted to keep the spirit of the original story intact but she still has to work through her childhood mistakes. Boy Blue, on the other hand, is completely different from Red Riding Hood. I was inspired by boy bands for his character. The total “freedom” of being a guy without any strings attached to no one until this girl with a story catches his eye without even seeing her face. His own character development goes from being a boy to man within a matter of days with choices that help him along the way.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a sequel to Red and Blue. I want to explore the next stage of their relationship which is marriage. It’s not going to be easy but I’m willing to try. I hope and pray that it’ll complete by next year or at least 2020.
Once upon a time, there was a young woman who wore a red cape. She kept her face hidden from the world around her. Her was Rosaline, but the villagers have forgotten her name. She is Little Red Riding Hood. Thirteen years have years have passed since Red Riding Hood was cut from the Big Bad Wolf’s belly. She is quiet and distant. The villagers believe that Red Riding Hood is marked by the wolf who swallowed her. Until a strange young man with a golden horn tied to his back finds her intriguing. The young man set off on a personal mission to see if the rumors are true.
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Book of Matthew Part I is a tale of forbidden love in rural Missouri in 1850 which was a tumultuous time in the U.S. What was the inspiration that inspired the setup to this intriguing novel?
It all began with a conversation. I had just started dating the man who is now my husband and we were still getting to know one another. He asked if I would vote in the upcoming election and I replied, “of course I will. My ancestors fought and died to give me the right to. Without their sacrifices I wouldn’t be able to vote, own property, read, let alone attend my university. I wouldn’t even be able to date you.” After that conversation I started to wonder how difficult it would have been to have an interracial relationship centuries ago and my first book was born.
I have always been a lover of suspense, mystery and horror so I decided to write in these genres. My goal was to create a Jack the Ripper sort of villain, while maintaining the drama, romance and personal conflicts that make characters relatable and memorable.
While growing up I noticed a double standard in regard to history. If you were white and you wanted to trace your lineage back to the Mayflower this was perfectly acceptable. People were intrigued to hear your family’s history and they encouraged and praised your vast knowledge of a bygone era… but if you were black you were often discouraged from learning anything about your ancestry. I was told things like, “Black people need to leave the plantation,” and “Black people live in the past and need to just forget things.” Yearning to educate myself about the past is not the same as living in it. I didn’t desire someone to blame or scapegoat, all I wanted was the same answers that other races of children were encouraged to seek out.
When I received correspondence from readers in England, France, Ireland and several countries in Africa they applauded my stories and said, “Wow! This was a fascinating look at American history.” Not Black history, nor African American history. Other countries acknowledge this topic as American history because that’s exactly what it is. When I am criticized for this subject matter my response remains the same,
I don’t write racist literature. Nor do I write black history. I write American history.
The book touches on sensitive social topics rarely discussed, slavery and the dynamic between master and slave. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
The main theme I wanted to capture was that every form of this institution was morally reprehensible. When I grew up in school most of my teachers refused to teach this subject whatsoever. We would skip over huge chunks of our textbooks just to avoid it. The few who did teach about it romanticized the hell out of it, and made it seem acceptable because “most slaves were like part of the family” …I actually heard this more than once. What I desired to express in this story was that even if you were a house slave who was treated better than others and much like part of the family, merely being owned endangered your life because someone has diminished your social standing from that of a human being to that of a piece of property. This fact alone placed even the best treated of slaves at risk for kidnapping, rape and murder with no law enforcement to save them.
Second, I wanted to make it known that when some of us are slaves, we all are. Destitute white men, minorities and women of all colors were treated as second class citizens because of that system of inequality.
Third, I wanted to acknowledge all the people who were adamantly opposed to slavery and fought against it at every turn. 400 years of Americans are blamed and villainized for what some people did. Though slavery was socially acceptable, not everyone agrees with 100% of what is socially acceptable. Disagreeing with social norms is what makes us individuals. Fighting against corrupt social norms is what makes us heroes. The people who stood against these heinous acts are rarely recognized, but without them our society would’ve failed to evolve.
Sarah is a slave that is targeted by a serial killer that murders with impunity. What were the driving ideals behind Sarah’s character development?
The driving force behind Sarah’s character development was the total lack thereof I have witnessed in similar stories. In many of the plantation novels I have read the slaves are faceless one-dimensional victims who serve as little more than background for white main characters. The female slave characters were poorly developed and served as little more than objects of lust incapable of inspiring true feelings of love and affection. Reading a plantation novel with no black main characters is like reading Memoirs of a Geisha with no geisha. These stories failed to capture my attention and I found the characters unrealistic and totally unrelatable. When I wrote a book I was determined to make sure there were black main characters as well as white ones, and that ALL of my characters have depth and unique personalities. I wanted Sarah’s character to have hopes, dreams, ambitions, drama and romantic conflicts of her own. I yearned to put a human face on a slave character, an aspect rarely seen in books of this nature. Though there have been many forbidden lust stories in this genre I wanted to give Sarah an against all odds forbidden love story readers wouldn’t soon forget.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Revelations: The Colburn Curse is a prequel to Book of Matthew that traces the Colburn family back to their beginnings in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this story Matt Colburn Sr. is a young plantation heir who has been given the duty of protecting an aristocrat named, Arial. He falls madly in love with the elusive heiress, but she is hiding a deadly secret that has made her the target of the Louisiana Strangler, a secret that endangers everyone she holds dear, especially Matt. This book is already available for purchase on amazon.com.
The Infinity series is based on the many star crossed lifetimes of Sarah and Matthew. I wrote this series for readers who enjoy historical suspense but prefer a tale with less violence and adult content. Three of the ten books are already available on amazon.com.
Book of Matthew II: Ancient Evil will be released December 2018.
Women of color are not a priority of law enforcement in 1800’s Missouri. They are not even considered human. These social injustices allow a serial killer to run rampant. Sarah, a beautiful black slave, finds herself in the crosshairs of a monster who murders with impunity. The only one concerned with her plight is the master’s son. Will Matthew find the strength to rescue this slave girl, even if he lacks the courage to admit he’s in love with her…
It’s Jack the Ripper meets Roots in this pulse pounding historical thriller. House of Whispers packs the chills of a Stephen King book, the romance of a Nicholas Sparks novel and the in your face irony of an M. Night Shyamalan flic.
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Return of the Sagan follows a bookish young man as he wrangles his crew on a mission to save Earth and humanity. What served as your inspiration while writing this story?
As a prehistoric archaeologist, I have long dreamed of exploration of the cosmos and the past. My fieldwork centered on digging into the deep past for which no written records have surfaced. I can’t begin to explain how overpowering it is to uncover mysteries through digging and analyzing artifacts. It is a job that takes considerable time and patience as if you dig to deep, you can easily destroy valuable information. We only get one shot, so we have to be careful. For those interested in archaeology, I encourage them to see if local museums or colleges are operating excavations and having volunteer days – that way you can experience archaeology and avoid damaging/losing critical information. As for studying the cosmos, my wife already told me I can’t go to Mars 😞
As for the timing of the novel, my beloved Uncle Paul Leary was battling cancer so I wrote the story with him as a main character. He was able to read some of the story before he passed. My writing could never do justice to the lovely man that Uncle Paul had always been. We all miss him terribly.
Francis is a book worm that loves to quote his favorite authors. Is this an extension of yourself or did you have to research these quotes?
Totally me. Francis is named after my brother, Francis Aloysius O’Donnell. He was my parents’ first child who died at birth. I have often wondered what he would be like. Given my brother Ned and I (along with my sisters Moe and Sandi) can quote fantasy and scifi books all day long, it just seemed to fit that Francis would also be a bookworm like the rest of us. Mom and Dad were veracious readers and constantly encouraged us to read whenever we had the chance. Probably my favorite quote all-time is from Tolkien: “not all who wander are lost.”
The re-population of some of the world’s endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. What scenes did you have the most fun writing?
The mastodons and dire wolfs. I am a prehistoric archaeologist, and my specialty is in the woodlands of North Eastern North America. The people I studied lived side by side with Mastodons and the only reasonable prehistoric predator to suit the story, prehistory and climate was the dire wolf. After the book was published was when I saw Game of Thrones, a show I adore. I got the first season as a gift and then proceeded to watch the first three seasons over the course of two weeks. I then read the books after. I wish I would have encountered GOT before I wrote my novel as I would not have included dire wolves. I have referenced other extinct species from North America in my books before, particularly giant sloth, but for a predator in SAGAN, I would just conjure up something other than wolves because of GOT, though wolves are prehistorically accurate for the area and dire wolves would really be the only predator to fit the circumstances in the story. I did very much enjoy Francis’ stand on the bridge – total throwback to the Bridge of Khazad-dum. When I was a kid, my older brother Ned was devastated when Gandalf fell in the Fellowship of the Ring. Thankfully he read the next book quickly and was ecstatic to say the least. Gandalf’s stand was just so moving. When I got to the bridge standoff in SAGAN, I couldn’t help but make that connection.
Do you think you will write more stories about the crew of the USS Carl Sagan, or continue Francis’s story in some way?
I already have plans to write the story of the initial crew of the Sagan that left Earth centuries earlier. As for Francis, I have contemplated his leading the building of a ship and a subsequent sea voyage, but I have many other projects that need to be finished first.
300 years ago, USS Carl Sagan blasted off from overpopulated Earth in search of survival. Returning to Earth, the USS Carl Sagan finds humanity now extinct and Earth populated by deadly, once extinct pre-historic predators.
What disaster eradicated mankind? Was it man-made or of natural origin? One thing for certain: survival for the USS Carl Sagan and its crew will difficult at best, as while humans are no longer inhabit the Earth , they left behind deadly machines to guard the airspace against space invaders. The commander and the crew of the returning Earth ship will have to overcome those unexpected fool-proof sentries. And the machines are not the only obstacles for the travel-weary men and women of USS Carl Sagan to overcome. If they want to re-inhabit Earth.
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Seasons takes place in a small town that’s struck by a tornado, which sets of a series of terrible events. What was your inspiration for this novel?
I grew up in a small town much like Rhinehart. Many people think small town life is ordinary and simple. Not always the case. Although the book is fiction, some events were actual in nature. Rhinehart is a community riddled with secrets, devastation, gossip, deception and violence. On the other hand, the community is filled with compassion, kindness, joy and forgiveness. The book is designed with colorful and unique characters and events for a reason. My hope is that everyone who reads the book would identify, connect and be inspired by the community of Rhinehart.
You use faith as a guide to help your characters overcome obstacles. What were some themes you felt were important to capture?
One theme that transpires over and over is forgiveness. There is an instance in the book where a victim’s forgiveness is upsetting to the reader. While it is not the most popular outcome, it does cause you to think about how your decisions affect others.
Another theme would be to do what is right and love your neighbor even when they don’t deserve it. The community comes forward to help a family that has caused nothing but trouble and aggravation to the town. This is a theme I would hope the readers would practice among their own neighbors. There is a feeling of incredible accomplishment when you can set aside your differences and do what is right.
There are so many interesting and intriguing characters in this novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I had so much fun creating them all. I would say the most fun to write is the interaction between Aunt Ida, the sassy grocery store owner and Sheriff Richards, the pot belly law man. The two are always matching their wit and the Sheriff usually loses. Daniel’s brothers are wild and unpredictable, they keep the community on their toes. Aubree the young teen is the glue that connects the characters. She has a heart of gold and sees the good in everyone.
The characters are all special and the variety of personalities will cause you to laugh, cry, get angry and love them all at the same time.
I felt like this book ended perfectly for a sequel. Are you planning to write a follow up book?
Yes! The second book Seasons Justice is Not for The Weak is a little over half written.
The second book takes you into the High School years for Aubree and her friends. Daniel and his brothers return to Rhinehart and begin their rampage once again. Aunt Ida and Uncle Leo go missing and a search begins. Derek and Dillion take advantage of the fact the Sheriff is busy, to go on a crime spree. Phil their father trying to stop them finds himself on the run for their crimes and a man hunt is underway. The brothers as always go home to roust at their grandmothers. Daniel protecting the Sheriff does the unthinkable. Unable to live with what he has done runs away. Aubree is kidnaped by a local man who is mixed up and has a history of being violent. The community must come together to find her. In the mist of all the tragedy one of wild brothers finds himself for the first time on the right side of the law and helps apprehend a criminal. He turns to Jesus for help in putting his family back together and sets out to look for his father and Daniel to bring them back home.
The rest of the story is in process, even I can’t wait to see how it’s going to end. Lol.
In Seasons, we explore the loss of innocence when adversities hit a little southern town. We often ask, where is God in all this? What happens when you have difficult choices to makechoices that will affect everyone around you? How do you find answers to why God allows terrible things to happen to good people? How do you feel about God when his answer to your question is no?
The world around us is harsh, and we long to feel safe and special. Perhaps in Seasons you will be able to find that, by one young girls journey through innocence lost, you can learn to accept, forgive, and find comfort in the strength God has given her in some of the darkest days and endless joy that surrounded her life.
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All Roads Shattered is the third book in the All Roads series of dark fiction stories and poems. In the last book you said you wanted to go darker and bring more sci-fi into the story. Did you want to continue that in book three or did you envision a different path?
With All Roads Shattered I wanted to show darkness and variety, perhaps a different type of ending other than just brief character life lessons or moments.
The characters are all superbly created, as usual. Is there anything from your own life that you put into your characters to make them more believable?
Most of the time, no, at least not with this book. I did that with All Roads Home. In All Roads Shattered I wanted my characters to have their own life and story. Put my “empathic feet” into make believe shoes.
I enjoyed all the stories in the collection, as they all inspired some reflection afterward. Is there a story that didn’t make it into the collection?
If anything, a poem might get put to the side to be reworked but that’s about it.
Do you find that you write stories that challenge you as a writer, or stories that are easy for you to write?
I write what I feel or imagine, so it’s not difficult. I never mind a challenge if it inspires mournful beauty or captivating contemplation.
ALL ROADS SHATTERED, the third book of Lisa Diaz Meyer’s All Roads Collection contains two short story sagas, five multi-genre, dark fiction short stories and twelve macabre poems. Other books in this dark fiction collection are ALL ROADS HOME and ALL ROADS DESTINED.
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Tiffany Brooks’s book, Reality Gold, is an excellent read for young adults and beyond. Readers follow a large group of teenage survival show competitors who are whittled down as the show progresses. The story is told from the perspective of protagonist, Riley. Riley sees the show as a shot for redemption. She had gotten into some trouble at her high school, and ultimately had become both a viral meme and the butt end of seemingly everyone’s jokes. She wants to shake her reputation as a spoiled brat with a silver spoon. It doesn’t hurt her shot at winning that she has first-hand knowledge of the show’s backdrop, Black Rock Island, and the treasure it holds.
Brooks has constructed a very interesting, very well-written story with Reality Gold. The characters represent several demographics across the board. The plot and pace flow well. Bits of backstory of the island and Miles, Riley’s godfather with gold-fever, come out as the story progresses. The story sometimes feels like it does a cha-cha with it’s one step forward, two steps back rhythm. The kids are steadily moving toward their goal with some obstacles and setbacks in their path. Some plot twists at the end took me by surprise. The story kept my interest piqued until the very last page.
I particularly liked the character, Maren. Maren had dyed black and purple hair, and was always in a t-shirt with a sarcastic word or one-liner printed across the front. She was instantly labelled as harsh, mean, and weird. Some of those things came to her rightfully. Some of those things were likely just defense mechanisms. Either way, we get to see a few jagged edges soften at times. She lets some redeeming qualities peek out from underneath the dark makeup at times. She became a lesson in “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
I also liked brainy, sometimes aloof, A.J. who was interested in one thing and one thing only, the gold. He was more interested in the gold than the actual payout, because he saw the discovery itself as a foot into Harvard’s door. He was smart and driven and between him and Riley, had all the answers.
Riley was a rich kid, but wasn’t “just a rich kid.” That is the reputation she was fighting hard to shake. She wanted people to know her. Really know her. She thought the show would give her the chance to show the skewed world who the real Riley was. She also had a bit of the taste for the hunt passed down to her from her godfather. She plays a pivotal part in the story, both as a friend to her coeds and as an experienced treasure hunter.
There is a bit of a budding romance or two within the story, but nothing gets graphic whatsoever. There is also an important cautionary tale. There is an “almost romance” between an underage player and a crew member of the show. The characters struggle a little with how to handle that situation, but in the end, they keep their friend’s best interest and safety at heart.
Watching the clues, maps, markers, and cryptic symbols all fit together to form a completed puzzle was reminiscent of watching National Treasure and movies like it. The brainy kids all hashing and rehashing possible meanings and directions was exciting. The island served as a scary backdrop. Throwing in the “reality” factor kept both me and the characters trying to figure out what was fake and what wasn’t until the very end. They had to second guess everything they thought they knew since some things were manufactured specifically for the anticipated TV audience and ratings. Are their friends real or actors? Are the clues for the treasure real or planted?
I loved the characters and the story. It was well-written, and the characters and plot were well-developed. It was an exciting, sometimes “edge-of-your-seat” kind of story. I’d love to see more from this author.
Pages: 398 | ASIN: B07C5B7RFY
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Lesley J. Mooney’s Flight From Fear traces the frightening ordeal of a grandfather and his two grandchildren after they find themselves hosting a bizarre guest. When Gabe’s plane crashes in the Canadian woods, Frank Benders and his grandchildren, Jacob and Natalie, open the door of their secluded cabin to find him bleeding, desperate, and clinging to life. During his time in their home, Gabe shows the small family two very different sides to his personality. As their fears increase, so do Gabe’s unsettling episodes.
Before Frank and his teenage grandchildren are able to summon help from the rangers, things in their remote forest home go tragically wrong. Mooney has taken a unique approach with her protagonist. His diagnosis of schizophrenia and the subsequent personas he develops make for an interesting back and forth between the characters. The reader is faced with feeling sorry for Gabe as his multiple personalities come and go rapidly throughout the plot. As much as I wanted to hate him for kidnapping Natalie, a part of me felt pity toward him. Mooney is effective at bringing out these mixed emotions with her villainous characters. I was somewhat thrown by the introduction of Frank’s trained eagle. As I read, I saw the usefulness of the eagle to the story line. Another element I found a bit difficult to grasp centers around the newlywed couple who shows up at Frank’s cabin shortly after Gabe’s abduction of Natalie. Samuel and Margaret, almost without question, step directly into assisting Frank and Jacob in their hunt for the two in the dense Canadian forest. This aspect seemed a little difficult to swallow considering the volatile nature of Gabe’s mental state.
Natalie remains, throughout the book, a character of immense strength. Her immediate willingness to help the man who otherwise seems hell bent on harming her is nothing short of amazing. She is pulled into a situation that most adults would find mentally devastating, but she is able to persevere. In fact, she not only perseveres, but it would seem she is able to forgive and forget. Mooney’s Natalie is an admirable heroine indeed. As much as I admire the evolution of Natalie throughout the plot, I feel the story lacks in a few areas.
For instance, Gabe’s hospital stay in the final chapters covers several pages without zeroing in on his condition, his criminal past, and his apprehension. Mooney, however, has fashioned a story different from any other in the thriller/suspense genre–her entire cast of characters is filled with an empathy unmatched by other authors. This alone makes Flight From Fear worth the read.
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Slay the Dragon is an action-packed mystery about a man named Cesar Rosada. He is descended from a line of coffee farmers, a former professional athlete and now a rising politician with a single goal; to help the working class of his country. He is determined to fight for the rights of his people but there is one crisis he can not see a way out of, the opioid addiction. Working as the minister of finance he will stop at nothing to fight against corruption. This leaves him with a choice that will test his own morality.
This book was written by author Laura A. Zubulake who worked for years on Wall Street and is a frequent world traveler. She has written non-fiction before, but Slay the Dragon is her debut fiction novel. The prologue got my attention from the very beginning and is an engaging start to an intriguing novel that hits on a subject that is destroying families and individuals in America. Slay the Dragon does a fantastic job of using fiction to understand a complex problem, and helps you visualize the enormity of the opioid crisis today. I enjoyed how the world unfolds slowly, detail by detail, we get to piece together a seedy world reminiscent of the show Narcos. César’s character development reminds me of George R.R. Martin’s characters. They are characters changed, dramatically, by circumstances out of their control, and they’re just trying to adapt.
This story is exciting, dangerous, thrilling, and full of adventure. Cesar is the kind of character you can’t help but root for with his pure ideals and determination to help those around him. When his actions enter a moral gray area you can empathize. How do you find such entrenched corruption? Zubulake has written a world that feels real in its gritty depictions of South American politics.
From beginning to end this book held my attention and kept me guessing. This is definitely the book for you if you like political thrillers that leave you thinking long after you’ve closed the book.
Pages: 289 | ASIN: B07BH2VMNQ
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Historian-for-hire Wrenn Grayson takes on a difficult client in Kerry St. John. Kerry seeks justice for his great-grandfather’s lifelong heartache. Wrenn meets the renowned jeweler through words recorded in his tattered journal. The year is 1946. He writes from the tiny crossroads of Wyatt, Ohio, about the theft of a treasured locket and the identity of three possible suspects.
The cold case heats up when Lori Hammond arrives. The stolen locket was discovered among her mother’s possessions after her death. Lori refuses to return it to the St. John family, so Wrenn sets out to follow the locket’s path through history. Next, Lori is attacked and Kerry accused. If Kerry’s not guilty, then who is? That question sends cold whispers from the past down Wrenn’s spine.
In Designs on Ivy’s Locket, Connie Chappell focuses on the theme of parents and children, separated by death, by theft, and by design.
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