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I have no conflict with the court's decision. Everyone should have a fair trial, especially when facing a sentence of life. However, his attorneys are now asking to have Temple declared "actually innocent" without a new trial. That is something I hate to see for reasons I outlined below in an open letter to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
I am asking those of you who agree with me to please voice your opinions to Ogg, asking her to recuse her office and refer the case to the AG's office. You can reach her through her county email account: email@example.com. Or voice a conflicting opinion, if you have one. This is the time to speak up, not after the decision is made.
Here's my letter
January 6, 2017
Dear Ms. Ogg
I am writing to you today out of deep concern for what is happening in the David Temple case. I am a Houston-based journalist and the author of fourteen books. One of my books, SHATTERED, is on this case. Compiling my research, I not only sat in the courtroom throughout the trial but interviewed many of those involved.
As you know, this is a particularly horrific murder. Belinda Temple, a beloved Katy High School teacher, was eight-months pregnant with a baby girl at the time of her killing. On January 11, 1999, someone put a 12-gauge shotgun up to the back of her head and pulled the trigger. Nearly eight years later, her husband, David, was convicted of the crime. This past November, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals set aside the verdict and ordered a new trial. At this time, Mr. Temple is out of prison and awaiting a retrial.
Ms Ogg, I have no problem with the CCA’s ruling on the Temple case. If David Temple didn’t get a fair trial, he absolutely deserves one. On the other hand, the victims, Belinda Temple and her unborn child, Erin, and the people of Harris County deserve a fair handling of the case. I’ve read that David’s defense team is pushing to have David declared an innocent man without a new trial. I find this troubling for multiple reasons:
• First: the appeal’s courts have repeatedly found against the defense team’s claims of “actual innocence” in David’s appeals. They never exonerated him.
• The courts have ruled that there was legally sufficient evidence to convict David.
• The courts haven’t cited any substantial new evidence in the case that clears David.
• None of the evidence used in David Temple’s murder trial has been ruled inadmissible, which means all the evidence jurors considered in his murder trial – that used to convict him - remains available to prosecutors for use in a new trial.
• In fact, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision was very limited. It decreed that David deserved a new trial principally because his defense team wasn’t given information early enough to use it to its best advantage during his trial.
Obviously, this is an important matter. With his freedom on the line, David Temple deserved every break the law afforded him. But the ruling awarded a new trial, not that he be declared innocent.
Another reason I’m reaching out to you is that I find it disheartening when evidence becomes muddled, as it appears it has in this case, where much of what has been claimed to “prove” David Temple’s innocence doesn’t match the trial record or evidence.
For instance, I have heard some associated with the defense suggest that there is no evidence David ever owned a 12-gauge shotgun. In fact, a friend of David’s younger brother testified at the trial that David owned a 12-gauge. On the stand, Clint Stockdick, who hunted with the Temple brothers, went so far as to describe the make of the shotgun. David’s 12-gauge shotgun was never produced for testing, and he has consistently denied ever owning one.
It has been said that David Temple didn’t have anything in the house that suggested he still owned a shotgun at the time of Belinda’s murder. But at his trial, multiple witnesses testified to seeing shotgun shells in his garage.
Most troubling, there’s been much said about a 3:30 PM cell phone call Belinda made to David on the afternoon of her murder. The location the call was made from is important because it would indicate where Belinda was at that time. That could impact the timeline of how the events unfolded that day.
In their appeal, Temple’s defense attorneys pointed to two tape-recorded interviews that they said indicated the call was made from the Katy High School campus. If that were true, it would place Belinda Temple on the school campus at 3:30, and that would push back the timeline. One of David’s attorneys has said that this particular evidence proves Temple’s innocence.
When I heard this, I felt compelled to investigate the claims. If there is any evidence suggesting David couldn’t have murdered Belinda, I want to do what I can to help. I would never want an innocent man to serve time in prison. This evidence didn’t fit what I learned while researching the book, but I wanted to give it a fair assessment.
So, I listened to the two tape recorded interviews.
The first one was of a woman named Courtney Ferguson. Like Kevin Patrick Yeary, a justice on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals who wrote in an opinion that he listened to the tape, I heard nothing in Ferguson’s statement about Belinda making a phone call from the Katy High School Campus at 3:30 that afternoon.
The second interview cited was with Margaret Christen, an assistant principal. She testified at the trial and didn’t say anything about that 3:30 call. In her tape-recorded interview with detectives, however, Christen did make an ambiguous statement about a phone call. So I followed up, found Christen and interviewed her. On the phone, Margaret Christen denied knowing anything about the 3:30 phone call. She said the phone call she referred to in her taped interview was the one she testified to at trial, one Belinda made earlier that day.
So prime evidence of an alternate timeline the defense points to as proof of David Temple’s innocence doesn’t appear to hold true.
In Thursday’s (January 5, 2017) Houston Chronicle, David’s lead appeal attorney, Stan Schneider, didn’t call for an investigation into any other suspects in Belinda’s murder. Instead he said: “Unfortunately, the way this prosecution went down, I don’t think anyone could ever really be prosecuted.” As far as I know, David Temple also hasn’t publicly asked police to look for the murderer who put a shotgun to the back of his heavily pregnant wife’s head and pulled the trigger.
So that’s it. Apparently without any evidence confirming his innocence - remember the appeals courts didn’t cite anything “particularly momentous” – David Temple’s defense team wants him declared innocent. And Belinda and her unborn daughter, Erin, are to be forgotten.
Complicating this situation further, Ms. Ogg, questions are being raised about the ability of your office to be impartial in this case. Some wonder if too many in your office have ties to the Temple defense for there to be confidence in a decision.
For instance, two of your recently hired staffers, chief of intake, John Denholm, and your top investigator, Steve Clappart, have given interviews to the press backing Temple. Both worked to have him freed. Joanne Musick, who oversees your sex crimes unit, headed the county’s criminal lawyer’s association when it ran a blog declaring David Temple an innocent man. The head of your grand jury unit, Jim Leitner, also pushed to get David Temple out of prison. You personally included David Temple’s trial attorney, Dick DeGuerin, in the list of those you thanked on the day you were sworn in.
Unfortunately under these circumstances, however your office handles this case, questions will linger. Whatever is decided, if the decisions are made by you or others in your office, they’ll fall under suspicion of possible bias and improprieties. The result either way is that this case will cast a long shadow over your nascent administration. This should be a particularly uncomfortable situation for a district attorney who ran on a platform of transparency.
The good news is that there’s an easy solution: the David Temple case needs a fresh set of eyes. It shouldn’t be decided by people linked to his defense team or who have already expressed viewpoints on his guilt or innocence, but by impartial, uninvolved prosecutors. For that reason, I urge you to turn the David Temple case over to the Texas State Attorney General’s office. There it can be reviewed and decisions made without any appearance of conflicts of interest. Through the AG’s office, a decision can be made regarding a second trial, one in which twelve new jurors will have the opportunity to assess the evidence and rule on David Temple’s innocence or guilt.
Ms. Ogg, take the high road. Walk away from this case. It can’t help your new administration, only harm it. There is intense public interest in this case, and the people of Harris County need to know it is being handled based solely on the evidence.
What a case it is: A brilliant scientist, Stefan Andersson initially fell head-over heels for the beautiful yet troubled Ana Trujillo. Like so many of us who feel that strong pull, that attraction, at first he had no insight into who Trujillo truly was. Slowly he began to realize. When he tried to end it, she wouldn't let go. In the end, his kindness killed him.
POSSESSED is a book that took me behind the scenes into a world of witchcraft and spirits, of science and sex, drugs and demons. I was warned along the way not to write it, for surely the spirits would retaliate. "You don't know what door you're opening," one woman said.
Yet, the door I opened was actually one into two lives, a view into what went so terribly wrong in a posh Houston high-rise apartment in June 2013. Into the heart of a man who once he loved, never turned away, even though he feared for his life. Into the soul of a woman who threw her life away for a good time, only to find she was alone, with no one willing to take her in except a man who'd once loved her.
Who knows what draws the human heart? What waits there when we bond with another person? How easily our lives change and how quickly we lose control?
POSSESSED opens that door and we walk through, into two lives as they spun out of control and ended in a devastating tragedy.
Writing this book has been an amazing three-year journey. I've traveled in and out of prisons (for interviews, not violating laws), into the living rooms of victims' families and friends, the offices of prosecutors and investigators, to examine one of the greatest cold case mysteries of all time: who killed the dozens of young women murdered between 1971 and 2000 south of Houston along I-45?
The result is a book that pulls back the curtain, showing all sides of the crimes. These cases are like stones thrown into a pool, affecting families, friends, communities. They teach us about life and love, and how families endure and forge on, despite overwhelming grief. I learned so much from the survivors, especially the victims' families. Some took these tragedies and turned them into crusades to help others. Inspirational to say the least.
Who killed the eleven girls on Galveston Island in the seventies? Is police officer Fred Paige right about his suspicions? Did Michael Lloyd Self kill Renee Johnson and Sharon Shaw, or did an innocent man die in prison? What about Bill Reece? Was he telling the truth when he said, "I didn't kill no girls?"
Examine the evidence, explore the cases, and unravel the clues. DELIVER US, available now!
Confession time: This book was so difficult to research and write, there were days I didn't believe I would ever finish it. At one juncture, walking out of a prison after interviewing a suspect, I wondered why I ever started it. I'm so glad I kept working and didn't turn back. I could have. I considered it.
The book is different from any I've ever written. It's more personal than anything I've ever done. And these cases have touched me like no others. Twenty girls murdered from 1971 to 1997. Most of the cases remain unsolved. I interviewed investigators, victims' families and friends, and the men suspected of incredible evil.
The pub date isn't until January, but you wouldn't want to forget and miss the book, would you? So tell your friends and family, spread the word, and preorder today. And as always: thank you, for your support!
This is an incredible honor, and I am so pleased. Thank you to Kathy L. Murphy and all the Pulpwood Queens! This is so great! I can't stop smiling! Here's the book along with the club's diamond award!
The subject? DEADLY LITTLE SECRETS explores Waco's Matt Baker case. Matt was a Baptist minister suspected of murdering his wife, Kari, and staging it to look like a suicide. In hindsight, it should have been evident from the get-go that something was wrong the night Kari died. But the police in the small Texas town of Hewitt didn't piece the clues together, including an unsigned, typed suicide note. (Don't you think that should have been a hint?) And the justice of the peace who failed to order an autopsy never went out to the scene. These are the authorities we count on to do the right things. In the Matt Baker case, they failed.
What makes this case even more interesting is that if Kari's family hadn't picked up on the clues and pushed the case - especially her parents Jim and Linda Dulin - Matt Baker would have gotten away with a cold-hearted murder. Add to that the Dulins' concern for the safety of their two young granddaughters, and Kari's parents are the heroes in this story, parents willing to sacrifice everything to bring their daughter's killer to justice and to protect their grandchildren from harm.
One other thing: Don't you always wonder what type of environment spawns a Matt Baker? I try so hard in my books to piece together everyone's background, to explain what forms the folks involved. In this case, a custody trial shined light into the shadows of Matt Baker's past, revealing a frightening family history, including convincing allegations of serial sexual abuse by Matt's father.
DEADLY LITTLE SECRETS took more than a year to investigate and write. I hope you'll agree that it was well worth the investment. Now on sale on Amazon, BN.com, all Internet venues. Arriving in bookstores on July 31, 2012!
Great news. My latest true crime book, SHATTERED, has been chosen by readers as one of the top ten true crime books of 2010! The poll was held on the Web site True Crime Book Reviews, and more than 4,000 readers voted. SHATTERED was also honored on the same site with an Editor's Choice award as one of the best of the year.
Here's a link to check out all the books on the list: http://truecrimebookreviews.com/2010/12/vote-for-your-favorite-true-crime-books-of-2010/
I think in racing they call this a trifecta? Maybe not. Feel free to correct me if that's wrong, but THE KILLING STORM, my new novel, was also named one of the best of 2010, this time by the prestigious Library Journal. It was one of only five mysteries on the list.
So it appears that 2010 was quite a good year. I'm actually a bit sorry to see it go. But here's looking forward to a great 2011 for all of us! Hoping you're well, that you enjoyed the holidays, and that the year ahead is all you're dreaming.
Happy holidays! I wanted to share the great news with all of you. Just got an e-mail from Santa Claus. He's reading my new book, The Killing Storm, and, well, let's let him tell you personally. Here are a few graphs from his e-mail:
"Kathryn, I loved your new book! It's just great. Why it even has the reindeer talking. A hurricane, that poor missing little boy (remind me to make sure he gets that race car set he asked for on Christmas morning), those strange signs being left all over Houston on slaughtered longhorns. My gosh, girl, this is quite a tale. What a fast-paced yarn. I nearly lost my breath, I was reading so fast, trying to figure out what would happen next!
"That Sarah Armstrong is one good cop. Such a bright girl. I knew she'd grow up to be one smart cookie when I used to deliver to her at the ranch. She nearly caught me twice! I barely got back up the chimney in time.
"I finished the book last week, and now Mrs. Claus can't put it down. Just wanted you to know that you're the talk of the North Pole! What we'd like to do is fly you up here on Rudolph for a book signing. Any interest? We've had the heater on the sleigh fixed since your last trip to visit us. In the meantime, Merry Christmas!"
Me again: How fun is that?
All of this is of course, leading to why I'm writing you today, to say that I wish all of you the happiest of holidays. Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, and here's to an outstanding New Year!
Hope you're well. Happy fall! Wishing you pumpkins and candy corn.
Okay. I admit it. I'm incredibly excited. I truly am. Next Tuesday, the third in the Sarah Armstrong mystery series, THE KILLING STORM, hits stores. I really like this book, and I can't wait to hear from all of you who read it. Actually, I'm not the only one excited about the book. Here's what the reviewers have had to say so far:
"This third entry (after Blood Lines, 2009) leaves open plenty of issues, both personal and professional, for Sarah, guaranteeing continuing interest in the series. Solid crime fiction with a real feel for the humanity of the characters," Booklist Magazine.
"Pulse-pounding action," Kirkus Reviews.
"Contrasting the seeming unconcern of the missing boy’s mother with the anguish of Sarah’s daughter, who has just recovered from her father’s death and now fears that her mother will perish in the storm, adds depth to this suspenseful thriller. VERDICT Readers waiting patiently for the next J.A. Jance mystery will want to try this exciting read." -- Library Journal in a Starred Review!
"Casey's turbulent third mystery featuring Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong (after 2009's Blood Lines) draws the criminal profiler into a breathless drama as scary as a hurricane's eye....a terrifying cat-and-mouse game develops, pointing to more stormy weather ahead for Sarah in the best in the series to date," Publisher's Weekly.
"The Killing Storm is a terrific thriller. Intense, suspenseful, and frightening enough to have you looking over your shoulder. Texas Criminal Profiler Sarah Armstrong is a fabulous character to spend time with." JA Konrath, author of Cherry Bomb
"THE KILLING STORM is more scorching than Texas in July. This is of the most unique and enjoyable mystery series to come along in quite some time."
--Bestselling mystery author and Shamus award nominee Jason Pinter
Want the plot in a nutshell? Read on:
A quiet afternoon in the park, and four-year-old Joey Warner plays in the sandbox, when a stranger approaches looking for his runaway dog. While Joey’s mom, Crystal, talks on her cell phone, the stranger convinces the child to help search. By the time Crystal turns around, her son has disappeared. Yet her behavior is odd, not what one would expect from a distraught mother. Is Crystal Warner somehow involved in her son’s abduction?
Meanwhile, on a cattle ranch outside Houston, Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong assesses a symbol left on the hide of a slaughtered longhorn, a figure that dates back to a forgotten era of sugarcane plantations and slavery. Soon other prizewinning bulls are butchered on the outskirts of the city, each bearing a different but similar drawing. Before long, the investigations converge at the same time a catastrophic hurricane threatens. Someone very close to Sarah is brutally murdered, and the clock ticks, as the storm moves in. If Sarah doesn’t act quickly, the child will die.
The first three chapters of the book are up on this Web site. Just click on the link in the upper left hand corner, the first link under "fiction."
Thanks so much! I appreciate all your support more than I can say.
The result is that here it is two full weeks after my new true crime book, SHATTERED, came out, and I haven't told anyone. No newsletter. No blog. Nothing, except some mentions on my facebook account. Sigh. I know I've failed all of you, and I apologize. My intentions are good, but somehow life just gets in the way.
So that's it: as of June 29th, my new book, a true crimer on Houston's fascinating David Temple murder case, is on the Net and in stores. It's an amazing case, and one of the most sensational trials I've ever covered. After you've read about it, I'd love to hear from you, so don't hesitate to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And perhaps those of you on facebook would like to add me as a friend? It seems that with all this new electronic social networking going on, that may be the best way to keep in touch. Here's the link to my page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1191774642
In case I forget, watch out for THE KILLING STORM, the third in the Sarah Armstrong mystery series. It's available for preorder now on the Internet, and it'll hit bookstores in November!
Hope all of you are well and prospering. Those of you in the Gulf Coast, like I am, I know we can't wait for that darn well to be capped. Stay cool this summer, have some fun, and thanks for reading my books and telling others about them. Your support truly makes all the difference!
While you're wrapping presents tomorrow, at four p.m., listen in. I'll be on Talk Forensics this Sunday, December 20th @ 4pm eastern. Here's the link to the show on the Internet: www.blogtalkradio.com/talkforensics.
During the second half, you can call in and ask questions. The number is 646-727-3674.
Hope everyone is well and enjoying the holiday season. I'm finishing the last of my shopping today. Actually, I'm not leaving the house. I'm planning to shop the Net.
As for breaking news: Next year: Two new books! In June, SHATTERED, a true crime book on the David Temple case, debuts. In the fall: THE KILLING STORM, the third Sarah Armstrong novel, hits bookstores. It's already garnering rave reviews!
"THE KILLING STORM is a terrific thriller. Intense, suspenseful, and frightening enough to have you looking over your shoulder. Texas Criminal Profiler Sarah Armstrong is a fabulous character to spend time with." JA Konrath, author of Cherry Bomb
Happy Holidays to you and your family! And warmest wishes for an outstanding 2010!
The occasion is my first book signing for Blood Lines, the second Sarah Armstrong mystery. Sarah's the Texas Ranger I invented, the protagonist in the series. This particular book's set in Houston, but one reason I chose a ranger was so my main character could traipse all over Texas without worrying about jurisdictional lines. Hey, it's a big state; why not show off all of it?
Anyway, my dad always cautioned me when I was a kid not to get "the big head," which in dad language meant ego. So rather than tell you about the book, which I'm quite proud of, here's what the critics have had to say about Blood Lines:
"The second entry in the Armstrong case file is a strong sequel to Singularity. Both plot lines are clever and carefully scripted. But it’s the evolving back story of Armstrong and her daughter—coping with the death of Armstrong’s husband—that gives this series extra depth and offers the promise of something special." Wes Lukowsky, Booklist.
"Verdict: Engrossing and well written," Jo Ann Vicarel, Library Journal.
"Enjoyable.... Casey successfully taps into celebrity-obsessed culture," Publishers Weekly.
"[Sarah Armstrong is] an impressive character.... Both mysteries play out nicely against the Texas backdrop, right up to the white-knuckle finale," Sandra Martin, Romantic Times.
"The author does a crafty job portraying the demanding young diva, dealing with family issues and tracking killers. BLOOD LINES is a sweet beach read with decent, compassionate characters and several scumbags." Jane Sumner, the Dallas Morning News.
"Casey deftly switches between investigations, working in Sarah's personal life as well as the interesting minutia involved in following tenuous leads," P.G. Koch, The Houston Chronicle.
"Casey knows how to keep readers turning the pages to get to the stirring conclusion," Glenn Dromgoole, the Abilene Reporter.
A particular honor: Blood Lines has been chosen as the November selection by the wonderful Pulpwood Queens. Very exciting!
So, why not drive over to Murder by the Book this coming Wednesday and listen to my little talk, try to figure out what the jokes are supposed to be and chuckle a bit (even if they're not funny), then stay around long enough to meet a few people, including me? I'd be delighted to shake your hand and sign your book!
The truth is that I’ve always had a soft spot for schnauzers. When I was a kid one of our neighbors had one, silver and white, a funny little dog with cropped ears and a stubbed tail. On my way home from school, the dog sometimes followed me for a few houses, just lopping along, barking. It made me laugh, which wasn’t always easy to do after school, when I was tired and facing homework.
So when we saw the min-schnauzer sign, I asked my husband to pull over, just so I could hold one. Maybe I really intended to just hold one?
There were two black and silver puppies in crates in the back of the truck, four pounds each. The woman minding the store, who was missing most of her teeth in the front and had a hard time pronouncing schnauzer, handed me Max. He seemed like a laid-back little fellow, mellow and sweet, nuzzling my shirt, with crooked ears and a silver beard. I looked at my husband. He looked at me. A $400 check, and the dog was ours.
From the parking lot, that same afternoon, we took our new addition to a pet store where we stocked up on all the trappings, from food, a collar – a very small collar – a leash, to a crate and a book on schnauzers. Then, we brought him home. I guess it must have been about two hours later when whatever drugs the lady missing teeth gave him wore off. Suddenly, our mild-mannered Clark Kent of a dog had Superman delusions. He tore around the yard, gnashing his teeth and trying to bite us when we tried to pet him, and I wondered: Did I really need a dog?
That was the beginning of our odyssey. Empty nesters, my husband and I took our parenting seriously.
That first afternoon, we introduced Max to our backyard. We live in Houston, and we have a swimming pool, so we were understandably concerned about drowning. My husband got in the pool, and I handed him Max, and an hour disappeared while we tried to teach the little guy how to find the steps and get out of the water. It said in our newly purchased book that schnauzers love the water, so we assumed Max would be a great swimmer. Gently, I dropped him into the water. My husband aimed Max at the stairs and let go, but the dog threw a U-turn and paddled back to my husband. After countless attempts, we gave up. We’d try often over the years to get Max to swim. It never worked. The book was wrong. Schnauzers might like swimming, but Max had no use for it.
The thing about small dogs, at least the ones we’ve had, is that they don’t always know they’re small. They tend to think they’re great danes. One of the first indications with Max was his walk. He leaned just a bit to the right and had a gait that resembled John Wayne’s. It made us laugh. When we encountered another dog on the street or in the park, even as a puppy Max snarled with a dangerous look in his eyes. To our astonishment, most of the time, he pulled the bluff off, and the big dogs backed up, veering cautiously away.
Afternoons, he darted through the house fast enough to be on roller skates. He had a particular penchant for pillows, anything soft and stuffed actually, and when he had one in his mouth he shook it with all the vigor one might expect when attacking an enemy. Although neutered, Max adopted one particular living room pillow as his girlfriend, and in between amorous attacks, he spent hours draped over it, with a forlorn look.
His favorite events were morning and afternoon walks, times Max eagerly awaited. Looking back, we must have been a sight, a middle-aged couple walking a four-pound puppy. Among ourselves, we laughed at the old joke: Any alien arriving on earth and seeing us walk behind the dog, waiting for him to poop and lovingly collecting it and carrying it home, would have thought Max was the dominant specie. You know, maybe he was.
The truth? Max could be a terror around the house. His favorite game was playing squeaky. You know the drill: Dog waits with great anticipation for owners to throw a small ball with a squeaker inside. Dog then barrels after the ball, clutches it in his mouth and the ball makes a loud “squeak!” Dog brings ball back to owner, chest puffed out, and then wrestles with the owner who tries to get the ball back. When dog lets go, owner throws ball and the process begins anew.
We played squeaky so often, we wore out balls faster than a toddler outgrows shoes. Max loved them all, and was always excited when a new one made its appearance, probably because new balls had the loudest squeakers. The game became such a part of our lives, hardly a night went by without it. When I was on the road, working on a new book, doing research, I called home and my husband laughed maniacally and said, “Do you know what time it is?”
It was, of course, squeaky time, which he announced by squeezing the ball emitting its high-pitched, mechanical shriek. Invariably, I groaned.
As annoying as squeaky time could be, it was another love of Max’s that led to our most embarrassing encounters. I don’t know if this is an unusual situation, you tell me, but Max had an abiding affinity for underwear.
I’m not sure if he had particular favorites. To us, it seemed that he enjoyed my husband’s jockey shorts with as much gusto as my bras. And he didn’t seem to be searching for a particular scent, as guests, too, were often subjected to his stealthy raids.
When we weren’t looking, whenever an undergarment was left unattended and within his reach, as in the laundry, on a closet floor or in a guest’s open suitcase, Max struck. Before long, we’d see him digging in the potted plants, especially the two living room palm trees. The first giveaway was dirt scattered across the floor. When we unearthed the half-buried bra, panties, or shorts, they were in need of a wash.
This wasn’t an endearing quality. As you can imagine, guests were often mortified to find their underwear, soggy from being carried around in Max’s mouth and covered with dirt, hanging out the side of a potted plant. There were those times we entertained company only to have Max prance into the room with one of my bras dangling from his mouth. (For some reason they were never the pretty lace ones.)
At such moments, there seemed little to do but laugh.
It’s hard to explain to folks who don’t have pets how much joy an animal can bring. Just those quiet times, curled up on a chair, petting Max’s soft fur, made my heartbeat calm, my blood pressure slow, my worries fade.
When we walked in the door, Max nearly always waited for us, happy, panting, looking as if he’d been at that door the entire time we were gone. “Where have you been?” he seemed to be saying. “Didn’t you know I wanted you to come home?”
Of course, what he was probably thinking was, “Any interest in playing squeaky?”
When we moved to our new house, we met our neighbors though Max. We’d be out walking him, when our paths crossed. Max jumped up, fighting to get their attention. For a little guy, he really could jump. Come to our door, and Max would greet you as if he had springs on his back paws, catapulting himself up so high he could have turned the doorknob.
Looking back, in his own way, the little guy even had his fifteen minutes of fame. I belong to crime chat rooms and the like, and in more than one, I told Max stories. Some took on mythic qualities, as the participants caught the bug and made up their own tales in which our little schnauzer became “Max the Spy Dog,” a crafty canine crime fighter.
For eight years, Max was our pal. Since he was a small dog, 20 pounds at his heaviest, even though in dog years he matured well into middle age, we continued to think of him as a puppy. It was a shock when he grew sick.
It happened on a Saturday night in early June. We’d had a steak for dinner. Max had devoured most of the bone then tried to smuggle it into the house, to bury it in a flowerpot. (Not surprised, right?) We were watching an action movie on cable. I should know the title, but that part of the evening is fuzzy. What I remember is Max going into a seizure. It was awful. From that point on, it happened every few hours. We bundled him up and first took him to a veterinary emergency care clinic in Houston. When they weren’t giving us clear answers, we drove an hour-and-half to a clinic at Texas A&M, the best vet school in the state.
Sadly, Max’s malady wasn’t hard to diagnose. They ran some tests, and before long we were seated in a room talking to a vet who explained that Max had a brain tumor, so far into his brain that it was inoperable. The entire time the vet talked, Max scurried about the room, licking hands and wanting to be petted. It seemed rather surreal.
We left Max there that night, picking him up the next morning after they’d calmed the seizures with Phenobarbital. We didn’t really know how much time we had with him. The truth was that even if it had been operable, we wouldn’t have prolonged Max’s life. The seizures had already changed him. His lungs were damaged, his balance was off, his John Wayne walk gone, and his effervescence so diminished he appeared profoundly depressed. He no longer had enough stamina to take walks through the neighborhood, and he showed no interest in his beloved squeaky. Max wasn’t Max.
But we hung in there, cooking him his favorite food, fawning over him, cuddling on the couch, and feeling sad every time we looked at him. We were determined that no matter what, we were going to enjoy the time we had left with him. Max had always been there for us, and we were going to be there for him. Then the seizures returned, and we couldn’t stand to see him suffer. It was time, and late in June, Max went to sleep.
There’s so much I’ll always remember about that black and silver schnauzer. But I think what touched me most was his ever-present optimism. Max never woke up to a morning he didn’t embrace. He assumed every person he met was destined to become a great friend. On nights when we didn’t make him a hamburger, he gobbled his kibble as if it were a well-marbled fillet. Max lived in the moment, and loved life fully. Today, he’s missed. I hope there are dogs in heaven. If I make it, it’ll be more fun if Max is there with me for eternity.
Just a brief note to let you know that I've signed up on Twitter. If you're twittering like I am, add me: http://twitter.com/KathrynCasey.
All else is very well. The new novel, BLOOD LINES, comes out July 21st and the true crime, SHATTERED, will be out in August 2010, so life is on a fast pace. Anyone else out there who feels it breezing by? Crazy fast.
Right now, I'm hard at work on the third Sarah Armstrong mystery, THE CROSSROADS. I'm having a great time. I killed someone off a week ago, won't say whom. It was actually someone I liked, so I felt so sad. LOL. That's the thing about fiction: They're not real people so no one real gets hurt. After years of writing about real cases, that feels great.
Hope you're all well and enjoying the holiday weekend. It's raining in Houston, so our BBQ was moved indoors, but we're having a good time. My husband's cooking a cheesecake this afternoon. Can't wait!
Until next time,
I'm excited! Today, BOOKLIST, the esteemed publication of the American Library Association, included SINGULARITY, on its list of Best Crime Novel Debuts of 2009.
My first published fiction, SINGULARITY came out last summer, July 2008, and the list includes books published between May 2008 and April 15, 2009. Here's the link to the feature article announcing the list: http://www.booklistonline.com/default.aspx?page=show_product&pid=3463673
And here's what the author, Bill Ott, had to say about the first in the Sarah Armstrong mystery series:
"SINGULARITY. By Kathryn Casey. 2008. A criminal profiler with the Texas Rangers, Sarah Armstrong catches a psychiatrist’s dream case: a serial killer who poses his victims as if in rapture, with bloody crosses painted on the wall above the bed—clearly the work of someone on a twisted moral mission. This impressive fictional debut from an established true-crime author introduces a memorable heroine with brains, moxie, and heart."
Needless to say, that certainly made me smile.
So what's next? On July 21st the second in the series, BLOOD LINES, hits bookstores. In it, Sarah is pulled into a complicated and dangerous web of lies and schemes, as she fights to save the life of a young superstar.
I'm excited about the book, and yesterday a review of BLOOD LINES by Stephanie Boyd ran on Armchair Interviews that read: "I love the character of Sarah and hope author Kathryn Casey has several more books planned in this series. This second book builds on the first book and is even better! I can’t wait to see what the author has planned next!"
Here's the link to the full review: http://reviews.armchairinterviews.com/reviews/blood-lines-sarah-armstrong-mystery
So, maybe just for today, I'm going to try not to fret over the economy or that darn flu. (It seems overwhelming at times, doesn't it?) Yesterday, I finished SHATTERED, the new true crime book on the David Temple case, and e-mailed it to my editor in New York. So today, I'm going to clean my office (You wouldn't believe the mess!) and then get back to work on the third novel in the Armstrong series and have some fun. I have this great plot working, with lots of twists and turns, and a really strange bad guy.
Hope you enjoy reading the books as much as I enjoy writing them! And thanks so much for telling your friends about my work. It means the world to me!
All Good Wishes (and stay healthy),
Happy Holidays, and events ahead!
Although I may often forget to say it, please know that I appreciate all of you. I've been so honored to have so many readers recommend my books. And I'm always delighted to meet folks at book signings and events, to learn more about those who stop in and to compare theories on the headlines of the day.
This coming year is a busy one, with opportunities to meet many of you. It starts in January, the 15th through the 17th, when I participate in the Pulpwood Queens annual Girlfriend weekend in Jefferson, Texas. It'll be a fun weekend, including the fabulous Hair Ball. (I have my tiara already packed, Ladies!)
Then, on Thursday, February 5, from 1 to 3, I'll be at the Tomball, Texas, library, located on the Tomball College campus. This is especially exciting since, as many of you know, the main character in my new mystery series, Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong, lives on a ranch outside Tomball. Spending an afternoon in Tomball feels a bit like I'm taking Sarah home!
If January and February are busy, March is crazy!
First, on March 14th and 15th, I'm one of the featured authors at the Tucson Festival of Books, on that city's University of Arizona campus. I've been to Tucson before and loved it. Add the long list of events, shaking hands, signing books, and the Arizona sunshine, and this promises to be a memorable weekend.
Two weeks later, March 27th and 28th, look for me on a panel at the Best of the Southwest Book Festival, in DeSoto, Texas. A friend, author Diane Fanning, participated last year and raved about the festival, so I'm anticipating a great time.
As always, I'm looking forward to greeting all of you who make it to the events. For those I can't meet in person, don't hesitate to say hello via e-mail.
And, again, Happy Holidays! Here's to a healthy and prosperous New Year!