I am so happy to welcome Loretta Ross to Escape With Dollycas!
Her new book was just released today!
The first thing I’d like to say is thank you, to Lori Caswell, for inviting me to write a guest post for her blog.
Last September, a little over a month after my fiftieth birthday, I did something I’d never done before and, indeed, something I had never imagined I’d ever do.
I rode on an airplane.
I’m a wild woman, I know.
As mystery readers, you may be aware of Bouchercon, also known as the World Mystery Convention. It’s held in a different city every autumn. In 2015 I attended my first ever B-Con (as it’s affectionately known) in Raleigh, North Carolina. To get there, I drove by myself for two days. On the way down I had to pass through the Great Smoky Mountains, which are absolutely gorgeous and scared the ever-loving hell out of me.
I love mountains when they’re on a jigsaw puzzle or a picture postcard. When they’re climbing under the wheels of my car, at sixty-five miles an hour, with a mini-van crowding me to my left, tractor-trailers boxing me in, and fiery death a few feet off the right shoulder and several hundred yards straight down–not so much. It turns out that, under certain circumstances, I’m moderately afraid of heights.
I’m also moderately claustrophobic, which made it a really unpleasant surprise when I finally came down out of the mountains and there were tunnels. And then more mountains. And then more tunnels.
On my way back I was determined to miss the whole “oh-my-God-I’m-going-to-fall-off-the-mountain-oh-my-God-the-mountain’s-going-to-fall-on-me” experience.
It turns out Google maps isn’t so hot at showing elevation. Also, not all those roads are as clearly marked as you’d expect them to be. I wound up lost in the Appalachians.
And there was a tunnel, too. Under Tennessee.
So this year, I was determined not to drive, even though I still wanted to go.
When I was a girl, growing up in the middle of nowhere and spending most of my summers alone with my imaginary literary friends, I used to lie in the field beside my house and look up at the sky. I’d watch the planes going over and wonder about the people in them, but it had never seemed possible that that privileged class of adventurers could someday include me.
My initial plan was to take the train to NOLA. I’ve never been on a train either and it seemed romantic and less likely to fall out of the sky. Unfortunately, from where I live in west-central Missouri, the most direct train route to New Orleans goes through Chicago, takes almost an entire 24-hour day, and involves a 4AM bus transfer in St. Louis. So I womanned up and booked plane tickets both ways.
The first thing people told me about flying was to be early. Be really early. Figure out what early is, and then get there well before that. Expect long lines and delays and hassles at security. So naturally, I planned carefully and then procrastinated so much that I was still packing at midnight the night before I was supposed to leave.
The time on my boarding pass said 10:05 AM and I live a good two-and-a-half hours from the airport so I set my alarm for 4 AM and finally went to sleep.
For a given value of sleep. I tossed. I turned. I worried and fretted and I didn’t actually fall asleep until about 3:45. When the alarm went off, I was so exhausted I couldn’t keep my eyes open and convinced myself I could sleep for just another half hour and I’d be fine.
By the time I finally got up it was almost six. I kissed the cats, made sure they had plenty of food and water, and headed out. I made it as far as Clinton, the town nearest me, before I got light-headed. I’d been so fixated on the coming trip that I’d forgotten to eat the day before.
So, I stopped for a quick breakfast, then topped off the gas tank, and then finally hit the highway. By this point it was nearly seven.
Yeah, I wasn’t at all freaking out by this point. (I might be lying.) Also, did I mention the rain? And the fog?
By the time I got to Kansas City, it was pouring rain, fog was rising off the pavement, and I had managed to land right in the middle of the morning rush hour. And then I took the wrong exit. And then I got caught in a construction zone. And then I couldn’t find the place I’d reserved parking.
At a quarter to ten I was driving around in circles in front of the terminal, lost and frantic and practically hysterical. At 9:57 I stumbled across economy parking.
A shuttle appeared as if by magic, I was the last passenger they picked up, and they took me directly to my terminal. There was no line at security and I had time to buy a bottle of water and sit down before they called my flight.
And I flew. I climbed in a big, metal box with a bunch of strangers, packed in like pomegranate seeds, and the ground dropped away beneath us and we sailed off through the sky to New Orleans. And, perhaps it’s silly, but I looked out the window at the countryside passing by and I thought of a little girl in a field.
And I cried a little.
What a great story!! I am so glad you made it right on time! Thank you so much for visiting today!
Death & Wren Bid on Answers to the Mysteries of Love and War
When former army medic Tony Dozier is accused of killing a member of the hate group that disrupted his wife’s funeral, the prosecution charges premeditated murder and the defense claims temporary insanity. Former marine Death Bogart and auctioneer Wren Morgan think there’s more to the story.
They’re both led to the long-abandoned Hadleigh House, where Wren begins preparing the contents for auction but ends up ap- praising the story behind an antique sketchbook. As Wren uncovers the century-old tale of a World War I soldier and his angel, Death finds a set of truths that will change…or end…their lives.
I love this series! Morgan is working at Hadleigh House, an old abandoned mansion, to inventory the furnishings and other contents for auction. She finds an old sketchbook that is truly a treasure. It seems to tell a story from World War I about a soldier and his angel. Meanwhile Tony Dozier, an army vet is arrested for killing a man that was protesting his wife’s funeral. Wren and Death (Dee-th) “it’s a family name” Bogart meet the man and know right away he didn’t kill anyone. Death also has PTSD and knows that is what the vet is dealing with. Maybe the sketchbook can help explain the vet’s confusion and lead them to the real killer.
Three books and we are still peeling back the layers on these characters. They continue to grow closer and deal with each other’s battles. They are falling in love but still have barriers up so as to not cause each other pain, both physically and emotionally. The author seems to understand that their healing is a process, not something that can be fleshed out in a hurry but revealed over time. For me as a reader that draws me to these characters in a major way.
The setting this time was quite interesting. A big old house, a cemetery, and a camp for wounded veterans are all located close together but getting to the house is difficult because there is only a walking path until a bridge car be rebuilt for vehicles. The picture on the cover depicts things very well.
The theme of the story is very current, there is a group, the Church of the Army of Christ (CAC), a militant hate group, they protest around the area. This group disrupted the Dozier funeral because Tony’s wife was a Muslim. She and Tony were the only survivors of an attack in Afghanistan only to get back to the states and have her killed by a drunk driver. Tony dealing with the tragedy he witnessed overseas as a medic combined with his wife’s tragic death has left him just a shell of a man. The author wrote this book long before the current administration was sworn in but she clearly saw the degree of hatred during the election and she tackled that and the plight of veterans so well in this story.
As for the mystery, it wasn’t exactly complex but it wasn’t straight forward either. I knew who didn’t do it, just as Morgan and Death did, so I was really tuned in to all the others I viewed as suspects. I just had a feeling and surprisingly I turned out to be right, but it played out in a really scary, edge of your seat way.
The topics may seem heavy for a cozy mystery but Ms. Ross adds the humor, romance and character building in a way to keep it all balanced. I was very happy with the last chapter set up to take us into the next Death and Morgan story. It is going to be hard to wait a year to have it in my hands.
If this is a new series for you I really recommend you start with
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
About The Author
Loretta Ross is a writer and historian who lives and works in rural Missouri. She is an alumna of Cottey College and holds a BA in archaeology from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She has loved mysteries since she first learned to read. Death and the Redheaded Woman will be her first published novel.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”