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Her Final Prayer: Book 2 in my new mystery series

I have a new mystery series. Did you know?

 

Yup. In addition to Sarah Armstrong, I'd now like to introduce you to Clara Jefferies. The first book in this new series, THE FALLEN GIRLS, came out in June. And today the second book debuts, HER FINAL PRAYER.

 

A Dallas detective, Clara has an unusual past: she was born and raised, lived her first twenty-four years in the small town of Alber, Utah, a polygamous enclave in a mountain valley high in the Rockies. She fled Alber in fear for her life and spent ten years in Texas. In book one, THE FALLEN GIRLS, Clara is pulled back to Alber to try to find a missing sister. What Clara finds is a town in the midst of change as the feds have made arrests, including of the religion's prophet. Outsiders are moving in and barriers are falling. But rather than a welcomed homecoming, Clara has become a stranger, even to her own family.

 

So in book one, THE FALLEN GIRLS, Clara is pulled into a string of horrific crimes as she searches for her sister.

 

In book two, as I said out today – you may be able to tell that I'm pretty excited – Clara is called to the Johansson bison farm, outside of Alber, and what she finds there are some of the most gruesome murders she's ever encountered in her years in law enforcement.

 

From that heart-pounding start, Clara is propelled into an investigation where nothing is as it seems, and where she's forced to confront her own troubled past.

 

To set up the series, I'd like to tell you a bit about the inspiration for Alber, my fictional town.

 

It all began in 1988. At the time, I was a magazine writer, a contributing editor at Ladies' Home Journal. I'd written for them for about four years at that point, and a case caught my editor's attention. It was unfolding in Hildale, Utah, one of the fundamentalist Mormon towns in what's known as the Short Creek area. The court case involved a polygamous family. The husband, Vaughn Fischer, and his first wife, Sharane. The Fischers wanted to adopt the six children of Vaughn's third wife, Brenda Thornton, who'd died the previous summer. Brenda and Vaughn had only been married for two months at the time she died, and none of the children were his biological offspring. The adoption was being contested by Brenda's two sisters, Patricia and Janet. My editor at LHJ sent me to Utah to interview Vaughn Fischer and his family.

 

So that summer, I drove my rental car into the town of Hildale, Utah, just across the border from Colorado City, Arizona, two towns controlled by a fundamentalist Mormon group. From the beginning, it was eye-opening. I was there in the summer, and it was so hot. But the girls and women were all clad in prairie dresses, and the boys and men in long pants. Everyone had their arms covered, and the women even wore socks with their sandals.

 

The houses were huge! Some housed three, four, five or six wives and their children. The Jeff's mansion, the one near the center of town where Rulon Jeffs, the sect's prophet at the time, lived, had small cottages throughout the yard. Someone told me that he had dozens of wives and an unknown but large number of children. The town is dusty but the setting is beautiful, bordered by impressive red mountains. A complicating factor during my visit was that they didn't have street signs.

 

You see, the sect was very secretive – perhaps because polygamy was illegal – and they didn't actually want strangers like me driving through town. They also didn't have a restaurant or a hotel. The biggest problem was that no one would give me directions. I'd see women with children in fenced yards, but by the time I got to the gate, everyone had disappeared. Poof! They were gone.

 

In the end, I did find the Fischer house, and I ended up spending a week in the area. I interviewed folks like the Fischers who swore that they were happily polygamous and that it was the best way to live and bring up children; and I talked to those who'd been drawn into the sect only to later decide it wasn't all they'd expected  

 

One of my most vivid memories is of sitting in the Fischer's living room surrounded by what seemed like scores of children. I had on a short-sleeved dress. While we were talking, a group of the younger children surrounded me, and they began to run their hands over my arms. I couldn't understand why until one of their mothers said, "It's that they've never seen a woman's arms uncovered before."

 

As I got more into the interviews in Hildale, I discovered that there are things to consider when you live in a polygamous community. One is that boys and girls are born in fairly equal numbers. That presents a problem when one man can have dozens of wives. The main concern: there weren't enough women to go around. This was solved, unfortunately, by weeding out the boys who weren't wanted in the community, the ones who the sect's leaders would rather disappear. They were called the lost boys.

 

What I was told during my time in Hildale was that the boys the sect planned to keep were groomed to stay, and the others, beginning in their early teen years, were manipulated to leave. The deed was accomplished by pushing and pursuing the unwanted boys, making the town uncomfortable for them.

 

The other thing was that the girls weren't allowed to choose who they married, but rather assigned to husbands by their prophet's decrees (based on revelations from God).

 

So, that's the inspiration for the setting of my Clara Jefferies mystery series. I drew on those experiences to create the town of Alber and its rather unusual residents. I hope you enjoy the books as much as I'm enjoying writing them. I'm currently hard at work on book three, and I am loving every minute of it.

 

Oh, and if you read the books and love them, any of my books actually, I'd be delighted if you'd write a review where you purchased your book. It means a lot to have reader recommendations.

 

Thank you, and happy reading!

 

Kathryn

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THE FALLEN GIRLS

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Books take months to write and more months to hit the stores; so when one comes out, it's thrilling.

 

I'm especially excited about my current effort: THE FALLEN GIRLS. It's out today, and it's a particularly satisfying debut since it's the first in a new mystery series starring Police Chief Clara Jefferies. 

 

The story in a nutshell: A Dallas detective, Clara gets a call late one Saturday while she's at the office. It's from an old friend, Max Anderson, who she once felt very close to, and he's asking her to return to their hometown, Alber, Utah. At first, Clara refuses. That town, set high in a mountain valley, holds painful memories for Clara, and she recoils at the thought of returning there - for any reason.

 

Then Max explains; he's a cop now, too, chief deputy in the county sheriff's office, and the case he's working involves someone close to Clara, a member of her own family. A young girl is missing: Clara's twelve-year-old half-sister, Delilah.

 

"Delilah has disappeared," Max says. "At least we think she has. And your family isn't cooperating."

 

A frantic rush back to Alber, where Clara's past waits to confront her, and she's thrust into a murky investigation. Clara's mother tells her that Delilah is fine, and she orders Clara to leave. Why doesn't Clara believe her? No one produces Delilah, and Clara's sister Lily pushes their mother to open up and tell the truth: Delilah is in grave danger.

 

This book was so much fun to write!

 

I love Clara and Max, Clara's complicated family made up of three mothers and dozens of siblings. The town isn't happy that Clara, who fled the town to save her own life, has returned. They want her gone. And Clara's father has died, keeping her from confronting him about the horror her life was because he failed to stand up for her.

 

Filled with pulse-pounding action, The Fallen Girls will keep you up at night, waiting to turn the next page. I so hope you enjoy it, and that you look forward to book two in the series scheduled to debut this coming fall: 2020.

 

I hope you and yours are all safe and healthy. Thank you for reading the books. It means the world to me. And welcome Clara Jefferies. I'm delighted to introduce you to the world! 

 

 

Links to buy The Fallen Girls

 

Amazon: https://geni.us/B085H87WFBCover

Apple: https://buff.ly/332rWJG

Kobo: https://buff.ly/3cK2Ofa

Google: https://buff.ly/2IvzJpV

BN.com: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-fallen-girls-kathryn-casey/1136662857?ean=9781838886028

 

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My day with the TV crew

Monday was a big day for me. I left my office! Writers spend a lot of time locked up in our home offices, shutting out the rest of the world. But this past Monday, I departed my Houston home mid-morning for a drive to Katy, Texas, the location of the house where David Temple murdered his wife Belinda. The Temple case is the subject of my true crime book SHATTERED. The reason for my drive to Katy? A producer for the ID TV series DEADLY SINS wanted to interview me about the case for an upcoming episode.

What's it like doing television interviews about crime cases? That's what a Facebook friend asked when I mentioned my experience on social media. Well, it's usually pretty interesting. The process actually starts long before the day of the filming, when the producer, in this case a woman named Tania, conducts a pre-interview on the phone, asking  Read More 
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Fifty Shades’ Christian Grey: A Hero or an Abuser?

A few weeks back I wrote a post that ran on Forbes about the wildly popular book Fifty Shades of Grey, the first in the mega-hit 50 Shades series. My premise was that I find the book troubling because the main character, Christian Grey, reminds me of many of the abusers I’ve reported on over my decades as a crime writer. I’m concerned that women and men  Read More 
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The high point of Easter Dinner: Dessert

Hi, All!

We just finished Easter dinner, and it was so good, and I simply have to share another recipe with you. The high point was dessert. We made Bananas Foster ala Brennan's, the New Orleans/Houston restaurant that's synonymous with this amazing dessert. Oh, my gosh, so good. So whenever you're up for  Read More 
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One Little Girl: Caylee Anthony and why we care

Lately, I've had a hard time concentrating on work. I keep wondering what the heck is going on in Florida.

Of course, you all know what I'm talking about. I'd bet the majority of folks in the U.S. have at least heard of the tragic death of two-year-old Caylee Anthony. We first learned in July 2008 that this precious child was missing, when her grandmother, Cindy, called police, saying Caylee hadn't been seen in a month. For the past three years, we've been mesmerized by the search for the child, the discovery of her body, and the bizarre behavior of Casey, little Caylee's mom. Now our attention has turned to the courtroom drama as Casey is tried for her daughter's murder. A guilty verdict could bring the death penalty.

Apparently I'm not the only one  Read More 
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True Crime Writing 101 -- Part two

Last week my post addressed those of you who envision yourselves writing true crime books. If I didn't dissuade you from that endeavor, let's take this a step further.

Now that you've decided you're up for the research and the seclusion of sitting at your computer day after day, the first thing you have to do is pick which case to cover. I bet that sounds easy. In a sense, unfortunately, it is. There never seems to be a dearth of sensational murders in America, perhaps the world. That's a bad thing, obviously.

Unfortunately, we can't change the reality that murders do happen. We're just reporting what's already taken place. So let's talk about how to pick  Read More 
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Throw away the key

I read an article today about the man suspected of being the East Coast rapist, Aaron Thomas. According to police, he's assaulted seventeen women, beginning in 1997, in Connecticut, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Maryland. His bail is set at $1.5 million

Thomas has reportedly made incriminating statements to police, and a prosecutor has said that Thomas displayed a Jekyll and Hyde personality with women. "Why haven't you picked me up sooner?" he taunted police when he was arrested.

The case they're going after Thomas for is one in which he's accused of breaking into a woman's bedroom and assaulting her while her 4-month-old baby  Read More 
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What people ask me....

I just finished filling in some upcoming events on my calendar, and I've been doing phone-in discussions with book clubs. It's a lot of fun for me and, I believe, for the club members. I get to hear their theories on the true crime cases I cover and the plots and characters in my mysteries; the readers ask questions and hear the stories behind the books. So it's a win-win situation, at least from my perspective.

Over the years, I've found that when I talk to groups there are some questions that nearly always get asked. One is: What's it like to interview someone who's committed a brutal murder?

Well, I've been doing that for a very long time. I started out visiting prisons when I worked for magazines in the Eighties and Nineties. In fact, I have a Rolling Stone article out on Kindle right now called Blues & Bad Blood. The cost is a whopping $0.99. At 6,000 words, it's always been one of my favorite magazine pieces. I think it's the mix of music and murder that makes the case so fascinating.

When I worked on that particular case, I traveled Texas over a period of two weeks interviewing four men convicted of two horrible murders, Read More 
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I wish you'd been there!

Well, it's that time of year again. I've just returned home from three glorious days in the small town of Jefferson, Texas, ground zero for the Pulpwood Queens. The event: the annual extravaganza,Girlfriend Weekend. I stayed at the beautiful Alley-McKay house, and I had a blast.

It all started Thursday evening, with a dinner where the authors, including moi, waited on the PQs who gathered at the Jefferson Convention Center. The amazing Kathy L. Patrick, founder of this mushrooming book club (400 chapters and growing), fed the authors first, then we each claimed a table. I served dinner to the fine ladies from Southwest Louisiana's chapter. Wonderful women with ready smiles and good hearts who put up with my well-meaning if rather inept attempts at serving sweet and unsweetened tea, a barbecue dinner followed by yummy bread pudding. There were free autographed books and everyone went to their hotel or B&B with a smile.

On Friday, we were all back early, and the weekend kicked into gear with Kathy and her co host, the superb Robert Leleux (author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy) front and center. For the next two days, they moderated the panels, asking questions and keeping us all laughing. That morning, Mark Childress (Crazy in Alabama) was the keynote speaker, and he was so funny. I loved the reading from his new book, Georgia Bottoms. Lucky for all of us he gave everyone copies.

I won't attempt to list all the authors who spoke on Friday. There are simply too many, but here are a few: Helen Simonson (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand), Judy Christie (Goodness Gracious Green), Denise Hildreth Jones (Hurricane in Paradise), Janis Owens (Cracker Kitchen), Kathy Appelt (Keeper) and Melissa Conroy (Poppy's Pants). If I'm counting right, there were about 20 discussing their work and their lives on the stage that first day.

The talent show that night was great fun. So many imaginative acts. I heard Nashville's Marshall Chapman sing and play her guitar for the first time and loved it so much I sprung for a CD. Marshall also has a new book out: They Came to Nashville.

The following morning, Saturday, the great Fannie Flagg began the day with a rousing talk about dyslexia, writing, and the surprises live brings. She was charming and heart-warming, detailing the process that began imagining the ghosts that inhabited her family's dilapidated and abandoned homestead and ended in a beloved book: "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe."

Two more panels, including mine, followed her. Wouldn't you know that Kathy would name my panel "Stories that are Killer?" On the stage, I was a bit nervous. (There were lots of folks there. At least 300, my guess.) But BobKat(Robert and Kathy) put us all at ease, giving us the opportunity to discuss our books and answer questions. I read a short passage from THE KILLING STORM, the Pulpwood Queens' main selection for July 2010.

It turned out that my panel was the opening act for the inimitable Pat Conroy Read More 
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