Secrets Don’t Sink: A Chattertowne Mystery
by K. B. Jackson
I am happy to welcome Audrey O’Connell
to Escape With Dollycas today!
I’d say it started with what brought me back to my hometown of Chattertowne, Washington in the first place, but that’s only part of the story. The truth is it goes way further back than that.
If I believed in reincarnation, I might think my sister Vivienne is the second-coming of my great, great grandmother Frances, aka Aunt Fanny. Frances passed away when my mother was about ten years old, but her reputation lives on. She’d insisted her grandchildren call her Aunt Fanny—not Grandma, Granny, Nana, or Meemaw—likely a way to offset any hesitancy men might have for dating a grandmother. My Gramma May once said Frances was immature and had an underdeveloped sense of self. She was not a fan of her mother-in-law.
My childhood was filled with admonitions about falling into the ensnarement of feckless men like Randolv “Swede” Lundquist and Egbert Doughty, two of Fanny’s four husbands. She’d managed to become both a powerful matriarch and cautionary tale, and at times I’ve wondered if Viv viewed those exhortations to avoid unscrupulous lotharios as a challenge rather than a deterrent.
None of these stories about Aunt Fanny came from my mother, of course. Despite her ominous warnings to Viv and me about the innate untrustworthiness of men—my long-suffering father excluded—all the details of our family history were shrouded in mystery and shame. I pieced bits of it together from conversations with Gramma May over the years as she tippled sherry every afternoon, as well as from the newspaper archives at Chattertowne Library. My curiosity of this fabled woman I’d never known but who dwelled in my family tree was intensified by my mother’s unwillingness to share the information.
Family secrets are a funny thing. If we know them, we might be able to anticipate what pitfalls lie dormant in our DNA to offset our ancestor’s propensity for making certain choices. Instead they are passed down to us in a combination of genetic lottery and incognizant behavioral patterns.
Not to say we’re powerless to the 23 pairs of chromosomes we’ve received, congenitally destined to repeat the mistakes and misfortunes of those who came before us because each of us is the result of a random combination of them and result definitely vary.
Take Vivienne and me.
I’m a five-foot six-inch hazel-eyed ash blonde with what my easily disappointed mother euphemistically refers to as “large bone structure.” Viv is a petite 5’2 with golden eyes, high cheekbones, and hair the color of champagne satin. Her pixie-like beauty stops men in their tracks. I’m often asked to help my friends move.
With few exceptions I tend to be a rigid rule-follower. I’ve always believed rules are there for a reason, while Vivienne hasn’t met a rule she didn’t want to break.
We were raised in the same family, under the same roof, with the same two parents.
We are not the same.
I was slowly working my way through the ranks of The Oregonian and attempting to have a modicum of a social life in Portland when my mother phoned to say Viv had “gone off the rails. Again.” I wanted to hang up and pretend the call had never come through, but I did not. I could not.
At 27-years-old Viv should be beyond needing a babysitter but I’ve had an outsized sense of responsibility toward her ever since she nearly drowned as a toddler on my watch. As a result I developed a crippling case of aquaphobia—especially tough when growing up in a riverfront community—while Viv has continued lived her life with abandon, unscathed by the incident.
I could’ve said no. Deep down I understand I could’ve said no to coming back home to clean up Viv’s mess. Maybe someday I’ll learn to say it, but that day has yet to come, especially when it comes to my baby sister.
And while five additional years of life experience hasn’t yielded enough wisdom to overcome my own proclivity for rejecting nice guys and being drawn to ones who will break my heart or—at the least—make me want to change my phone number, my sister tends to elevate her poor romantic choices to another level entirely. Her most recent incident involved getting caught in flagrante delicto with her (now former) boss in the office stairwell by another employee who decided minor extortion was preferable to reporting the relationship to human resources. The result was termination for all three, a fine and a little jail time for the coworker, and a two-bedroom apartment Viv could no longer afford on the money she makes at her back-up gig singing and waitressing at a nightclub called Nautilus.
So, that’s how I ended up back in Chattertowne, living with Viv in her dingy apartment, writing for the not-so-glamorous Coastal Current Newspaper, and dodging messages from my married conspiracy theorist ex-boyfriend.
Who could have predicted he’d be found floating dead in the marina, and I’d be the one facing my greatest fears in order to solve his murder and rescue my sister once again?
Thank you, Audrey, for visiting today!
Keep reading for more info about Secrets Don’t Sink starring Audrey O’Connell!
About Secrets Don’t Sink
Secrets Don’t Sink: A Chattertowne Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Chattertowne, Washington- a small riverfront community in the Pacific Northwest
Level Best Books (July 4, 2023)
Paperback : 308 pages
ISBN-10 : 1685123899
ISBN-13 : 978-1685123895
Digital ASIN : B0C83SGJ23
Loose lips may sink ships, but bodies and secrets will always float to the surface.
Audrey O’Connell has returned from Portland to her hometown of Chattertowne, Washington, a place where gossip is currency but knowing when to stay tight-lipped is priceless. Procuring a part-time job at the local newspaper to keep an eye on her impetuous sister following Vivienne’s latest romantic scandal, Audrey is assigned a feature series for the upcoming festival which has her digging through the town archives in search of anything interesting. When her former boyfriend Marcus is found floating dead in the marina not long after reaching out to her in hopes of utilizing her research skills, her investigation reveals his conspiracy theories about Chattertowne and corruption within its leadership might not have been so crazy after all.
As she plumbs the depths of the town’s 150-year history, she discovers that beneath the façade of this idyllic hamlet lie secrets long-submerged–including within her own family–and finds herself in the crosshairs of those who guard them.
Now with three dead bodies, an intense case of aquaphobia, and a narrow window before her deadline, Audrey looks to City Manager Holden, octogenarian historian Mildred, and her enigmatic almost-boyfriend Darren to help her discover the truth that will forever change her and Chattertowne.
Great Escapes Praise for Secrets Don’t Sink: A Chattertowne Mystery
by K. B. Jackson
Secrets Don’t Sink deftly unfolds with strong characters, a beautiful setting, and an intriguing mystery and plot that seamlessly and deftly unfolds, drawing the reader effortlessly into its depths.
About K.B. Jackson
Kate B Jackson (KB Jackson) is an author of mystery novels for grownups and mystery/adventure novels for kids. She lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and has four mostly grown children. A part-time genealogist, she loves to craft stories with elements of history and family dynamics.
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