Like most people who love reading mystery series, I like to watch the characters evolve, see their relationships ebb and flow. Sitting down with the next book in a series is like visiting with old friends. Now that I'm writing a mystery series myself, I find that I enjoy the same things about it from the author's side. There's even a bonus -- beginning the second book in a series isn't quite so intimidating. My characters are already my pals, so I know they'll come out to play as soon as I knock on their door. And I know they'll bring all their loveable, laughable neuroses with them.
There is one thing that hasn't changed since writing my earlier, stand-alone titles. Sending the finished manuscript off to the editor is still difficult for me. It's a lot like sending a child off to make his way in the world. I think about what my daughter said to me when I was harassing her with my last bits of parental wisdom before she left for college: "Mom, you need to relax and trust the way you raised me for the past seventeen years." She was right of course, but even after two kids and six books, I still find it hard to let go. Now that SKETCH A FALLING STAR, the third book in the Portrait of Crime series, has been released, I'm once again wondering how this newest baby of mine will be received out there, how it will fare on its own.
If you've been reading the series you already know that Rory McCain and federal marshal Zeke Drummond are partners in a private investigating firm. Rory started out as a sketch artist for the county police department, and Zeke started out as a lawman back in the nineteenth century. In other words he's been dead for well over a hundred years. As you might imagine, they've had their problems learning to live and work together. Zeke is old school when it comes to a woman's place in society -- old, old school, and Rory's a risk taker, an independent woman of the twenty-first century.
In each book of the series there's a new murder case for the duo to solve as well as more glimpses into Zeke's mysterious past and the dark secret that still burdens him. In SKETCH A FALLING STAR the team is hired to investigate a death that occurs during a flash flood. Rory's high-spirited, slightly wacky aunt Helene and her amateur acting troupe are vacationing together in Arizona when the sudden flood catches them in a slot canyon. When the water recedes one of the actors is dead. Although the medical examiner labels the death accidental, Rory and Zeke soon have reason to believe that it was murder.
In SKETCH A FALLING STAR you'll also meet Eloise Bowman, an elderly woman who moves in with her family down the street from Rory and Zeke. Although her family believes their matriarch's recent stroke has left her daft, Rory and Zeke realize it also left her with some pretty impressive psychic abilities. In fact, Eloise plays a pivotal role in helping Rory uncover the truth about Zeke's past. There's never a dull moment when you're hanging out with Rory and Zeke.