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We authors live for days like this: publication days! Our books hit store shelves, get shipped out in the mail, land on Kindles, iPads, smart phones, all manner of electronic devices. 

 

Today THE BLESSED BONES hits stores. It's my eighteenth such event, and it's the third time a new Clara Jefferies mystery has debuted. I couldn't be happier.

 

I have so much fun writing about Clara. She tugs at my heart, sends my pulse reeling. At times, I'm scolding her as I write: "Don't do that! You'll be sorry!"

 

So much fun. 

 

THE BLESSED BONES begins with Clara shuffling through the Tombs, the file cabinets full of old cases secreted away in Alber PD's hidden back room. She's reviewing which cases might still be salvageable after years, sometimes decades of neglect. It's there that she happens upon the photo of a little boy with a black eye. It brings to the surface old memories of a child she failed to save, and before long, despite the roadblocks, Clara is determined to find justice for the tyke. 

 

It's grand writing about a character like Clara, one whose heart pushes her forward, whose determination takes over when others would walk back, who has a low tolerance threshold for injustice and sees the victims for what they are: people who deserved better. The bad guys? When Clara's around, they need to worry. 

 

This particular book features the parallel story of Violet, a pregnant teenager being held captive. In the throes of labor, she thinks back to how her story unfolded. Is she alive and remembering? Or dead. Is it possible that her bones are those of the pregnant teenager found on the mountainside? If Violet is alive, can she be saved?

 

Clara's world has become so rich and so real to me. I cheer for her and Max, the chief deputy she's loved since they were teenagers. Their lives are complicated, perhaps too much so to allow them to have the love and the happiness they deserve. And Ardeth. Clara's mother. Will she ever truly open her eyes and appreciate the woman her daughter has become? Despite all she's been through, Clara craves family. But in her world - one where rules define who counts and who doesn't - Clara is invisible, shunned even by those she loves, and she feels betrayed. 

 

Yes! We authors live for publication days. Here's hoping you read THE BLESSED BONES, and that you share my enthusiasm. Thanks again for all the support. 

 

Amazon: https://bit.ly/2KDcBtW

Apple: https://apple.co/2VeRobH

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3mcfAY9

Google: https://bit.ly/3mdv7ai

 

There's an old passage written by Mark Twain – I guess that's rather redundant since he died in 1910 and any quote from him has to be old – but the one I'm referring to is: "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't."

 

I've thought about that particular proclamation often over the years because I write both true crime books and mysteries: non-fiction and fiction. What Twain was saying is that in fiction, no matter how bizarre a plot or character, readers need some sense of plausibility. Meanwhile, in real life, we can be confronted with a whole lot of strange and believe it, because we know it exists.

 

Over my thirty-year career as a crime writer, I've written about a good number of folks who fall into that reality-challenged category. Perhaps none more than Celeste Beard in my book She Wanted It All.

In 1999, Celeste was married to Austin, Texas, multimillionaire Steven Beard, and she had a couple of lovers on the side: one of her three ex-husbands; and a bright funny woman Celeste had met in a psychiatric hospital, a bookstore manager named Tracey Tarlton.

 

The thing about Celeste was that she was the epitome of bigger-than-life. An attractive woman, she had a way of luring people in. She played sweet and vulnerable, acted as if she needed love and protection, but she had an eccentric personality, enjoyed outlandish displays, and she could be cunning and manipulative. Celeste was smart. She had a way of seeing inside of folks, figuring out how to convince them to do her bidding. Celeste did that with Tarlton, gradually ensnaring her in a tangled web of lies and persuading her to help murder Steve.

 

Celeste had been trying to knock Steve off on her own for years, pretty much since the day of their wedding.

 

She'd started by serving him mashed potatoes laced with crushed sleeping pills and drinks with everclear she called "The Graveyard." The bizarre thing about Celeste, one of many, was that she could never actually go through with much of anything. Her mind flipflopped so that she'd drug Steve, wanting him to die, and then when he passed out, she'd call an ambulance and plead with the paramedics to save him.

 

This went on for years, and then Celeste met Tracey. The women began a romantic relationship, and before long Celeste whispered that she was being abused by Steven. It wasn't true. But Celeste cried and claimed that she would commit suicide if Steve didn't die. Eventually, Celeste swayed Tracey and enlisted her aid in the murder.

 

The summer of 1999 unfolded like a Coen brothers' movie. The women went from one eccentric scheme to another in their quest to kill Steve. At one point, Tracey helped Celeste brew botulism in her lake house garage. Yet, again, it fell short. After Celeste fed it to Steve in chili dogs, she called Tracey and complained that all Steve had was indigestion.

 

As one after another of her plots failed, Celeste became increasingly desperate. And then came the October night when Celeste left the door unlocked and the alarm off. In the darkness, Tracey tracked around the pool and walked inside the Beard mansion carrying a shotgun.

 

Steve woke up holding his exploded abdomen together and called 911. He initially survived but succumbed to complications three months later.

 

In true Celeste fashion, the after-the-murder saga was as jaw-dropping. Celeste hired Steve, the victim, a lawyer to protect him from police. (Really, the lawyer's job was to protect her.) At the same time she was buying Tracey a wedding band, Celeste was giving her beauty parlor receptionist money to hire a hitman to kill Tracey.

 

Could I have written Celeste as a fictional character? Sure. But I probably would have toned her down a bit. I wouldn't want to risk having readers say: "Well, the book's interesting, but that character? I'm just glad there aren't real folks like that Celeste Beard in the world!"

__________________________________________
 

Kathryn Casey is a bestselling true crime and mystery author. Her most recent book is Her Final Prayer, the third in the Clara Jefferies mystery series. Ann Rule has called Casey "one of the best in the true crime genre." Gregg Olsen has said: "Casey is a true crime great."

 

 

My new series and a friend's newsletter!

 

I hope all of you are faring well in these uncertain times. What a crazy world we live in. I'm so hoping that 2021 will be a big turnaround for all of us! I'm ready. I bet you are, too.

 

What am I up to? 

 

I just finished the third book in the Clara Jefferies mystery series. I can't reveal the title or cover yet, but I hope soon. Clara is a blast to write about. (To me she's real, even if I did invent her.) For those of you who haven't read the series, she's a Dallas detective in the first book, one who returns to her roots, traveling back to the town where she was born to look for her missing sister. What's so fascinating is that, in addition to just being a good story, the setting is so very different: Alber, Utah, is a polygamous enclave settled by a sect of fundamentalist Mormons. 

 

These are not members of the mainstream Church of Latter Day Saints, which has disavowed polygamy, but a town like those that have made headlines in the past decade or so, where church leaders have been arrested and prosecuted for abuses that include marrying off underage girls to old men. 

 

Clara fled Alber, and she returns reluctantly. But once she arrives, she's reminded of all she's lost. She's missed her three mothers, her dozens of siblings, of being part of a family. And she reconnects with Max Anderson, a guy she had a major crush on in high school. They'd planned to be together, but then The Prophet ordered that Clara be married to an older man, and Max? He was exiled from Alber, forced out of town as one of The Lost Boys. 

 

The first book in the series (THE FALLEN GIRLS) came out this past June; the second book (Her Final Prayer) in early October. Here's a link to book one on Amazon:  

 

https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Girls-absolutely-unputdownable-Detective-ebook/dp/B085H87WFB/ref=sr_1_4?crid=1XG9DNCUNA9SC&dchild=1&keywords=kathryn+casey&qid=1605559519&sprefix=kathryn+casey%2Caps%2C180&sr=8-4

 

If you read the books, let me know what you think. I'm always excited to get feedback.

 

I'm also writing all of you today to introduce you to a good friend of mine. Many of you are probably already big Gregg Olsen fans. If you haven't read his books yet, I'm sure you'll love them. Gregg and I are both hybrids; we write true crime (nonfiction) and mysteries (fiction). Gregg and I have been friends for years, and he's one of my favorite people. Plus, I love his books. 

 

The big news is that Gregg has started his own newsletter! I had to laugh when I saw the opening image: Gregg tied up in crime scene tape. It's really pretty perfect. I understand he'll be launching it with prizes, which sounds like great fun. So it could be exciting to sign up, get to know Gregg, and see if you win anything. 

 

To make it easy, here's Gregg's newsletter link: https://www.notorioususa.com/stalker

 

 

That's it for now. I'll let you know when book three in the new series has a cover and title. I'm excited! I hope you are. And I'm back at work on book five in the Sarah Armstrong series, Bone Cold. I'll update you as I go along. I'm sorry it's a bit late. I segued off to write about Clara, and had to put my Texas Ranger series to the side for a while. Oh, if only I had a clone. Now that would be fun. My husband might not be thrilled, but I'd love it!

 

Stay healthy and have fun!

 

Kathryn

 

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, HER FINAL PRAYER, 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.

 

Here are some of the links to copy and paste that will connect you with HER FINAL PRAYER: 

 

Amazon: https://bit.ly/2zE3t38

Apple: https://apple.co/30RrI9s

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2Bkpgx9

Google: https://bit.ly/2Y76keg

BN.com: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-final-prayer-kathryn-casey/1137255416

Thank you, and happy reading!

 

Kathryn

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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

 

It's a labor of love! I truly enjoy writing about Texas Ranger Lieutenant Sarah Armstrong and her family: Mom, Nora, daughter, Maggie, and the whole cast of characters. 

 

When I write a new mystery, I get to use all I've learned in my three decades as a crime writer. That certainly holds true for THE BURIED. In this book, I take you inside a prison, onto Texas' infamous Death Row. You see it the way I have over the years, when I've walked into the prisons to conduct interviews with real killers. You'll enter the home of a frightened victim, as I have, to hear her stories and attempt to reassure her that all is well. 

 

Most fascinating, you'll enter Lt. Sarah Armstrong's world. 

 

As the ranger's only criminal profiler, she's given the most extreme cases, most often those where there are multiple victims and the continuing fear of danger. To diagnose the crimes and uncover the clues that lead to the suspects, Sarah has to delve inside their minds. She needs to understand their motives and uncover their methods. She has to find order where there's often chaos. 

 

Certainly few villains have been as perplexing as Liam Kneehoff, the serial killer the press has dubbed the I-45 Strangler. Once a pillar of the community, wealthy, he lived in a mansion with a beautiful family, he spiraled into a pit of obsession, rage, and murder. Sarah put him away, locked him up behind the cement doors of a Death Row cell. 

 

Is it possible he could strike again?

 

Order your copy of THE BURIED, Sarah Armstrong Mystery 4. This exciting new installment in the Sarah Armstrong Mystery Series will arrive at your doorstep or download on November 1! 

 

Click on the cover or copy and paste this link into your browser: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H2JPXYM/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i22 

 

True crime books take me forever! 

 

I'm so sorry I'm not faster. I try, but I get sucked into the research. I go to the trials, interview everyone involved, routinely close to a hundred people. It all takes time!

 

So nineteen months after POSSESSED made its appearance, IN PLAIN SIGHT: THE KAUFMAN COUNTY PROSECUTOR MURDERS is finally hitting book stores. I'm beyond excited. I can't wait for all of you to read it. 

 

Just to refresh your memories, back in January 2013, someone gunned down, executed really, one of the top prosecutors in the Kaufman County DA's office. The assailant dressed all in black, like a character out of a video game, and discharged Mark Hasse in a hail of gunfire in broad daylight, a block from the courthouse, then sped off in a car driven by an accomplice. 

 

Law enforcement converged on this little town half-an-hour southeast of Dallas. Nothing like this had ever happened in the area before. In fact, only a handful of prosecutors have been murdered in the past hundred years. The brazenness of the murders only added to the fascination of media around the world. Who would do such a thing? On TV the pundits announced that the killer had crossed a line few risked, striking out directly at law enforcement. 

 

Rumors of gang involvement or the Mexican Cartel spread, as FBI and ATF agents, Texas Rangers and others joined local police in their quest to solve the crime. Meanwhile Kaufman's DA, Mike McLelland openly announced who he thought pulled the trigger. Not some crime organization or drug dealers, McLelland pointed at one of their own, a local lawyer and a former judge he'd locked horns with. McLelland's frustration grew as he wondered if anyone listened.

 

Then, two months after Hasse's murder, on the day before Easter, more killings. This time Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, died in a brutal storm of bullets. 

 

The Kaufman County murders became the top priority of law enforcement across the US. All eyes, including in the White House, were focused on the small town outside Dallas. Who was behind the murders? Why had the two prosecutors and the DA's wife been so viciously murdered? 

 

All the time, Eric and Kim Williams watched the headlines. At times, Eric snickered as he planned his next murder.

 

 

Just one more note: Although they'd been asked for interviews by national and local media, news magazines and the nation's top newspapers, the Kaufman killers turned everyone down. Until, that is, I asked. IN PLAIN SIGHT includes exclusive interviews with both of the killers.

 

Now available online and at your favorite bookstore!

Pub days are amazing! After two years of work, I get to see the finished product hit brick-and-mortar stores and online sellers, and it finally all seems worth it. Another book, this one my thirteenth!

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.

Three years in the making and it's finally here. As of today, DELIVER US is available in bookstores and online. You can drop into your local bookstore, order a paper copy to be delivered to your mailbox, or download instantly to your eReader.

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!

So this is so exciting! Nearly three years in the making, my new book, DELIVER US: THREE DECADES OF MURDER AND REDEMPTION IN THE INFAMOUS I-45/TEXAS KILLING FIELDS, is already on the Amazon true crime best seller list. I am so jazzed.

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!

http://www.amazon.com/Deliver-Us-Decades-Redemption-Infamous/dp/0062300490/ref=la_B001IGJVA0_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404168695&sr=1-5

Best Bonus Book 2013!

This is so exciting. Each year the Pulpwood Queens' 550+ book clubs vote on their favorite selections from the previous year. The winners are revealed in January of the following year. Now my big news: An alternate selection for the month of December, DEADLY LITTLE SECRETS was just named Best Bonus Book of 2013!

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!

Welcome Deadly Little Secrets!

I've waited for this, well, it seems like forever. I do try to have a new book out every year. This past year didn't cooperate, I guess. No new book! That's not good. But I'm hoping that you'll agree that DEADLY LITTLE SECRETS makes up for the wait!

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!

Hey All,

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.

Best,
K

Ho, ho, ho!

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!

Best,
K

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Hey, All,

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.

Warmest Wishes,
KC

I know I've told all of you who e-mailed that the best way to keep track of what I'm up to is to sign up for the newsletter on my Web site. I didn't intentionally mislead you, that's for sure. Still, I've been kind of busy.

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 kc@kathryncasey.com.

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!

Hey All,

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!

Okay, here's the plot: This coming Wednesday, August 26th, at 6:30 p.m., I'll be in Murder by the Book, at 2342 Bissonnet, in Houston's Rice Village area, talking about crime writing, and pretty much just hanging out having fun with the staffers and the folks gathered to meet me. It'll be an evening filled with laughter (I hope; I have tried to work on a couple of jokes), murder and mystery.

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!

**************************************

I know I usually write about crime, the dark side of humanity, but I’ve decided I’d like to tell all of you about my dog, Max. We bought him along the side of the road, which could have been a mistake. You know what they say about dogs sold from the backs of trucks: most likely the products of puppy mills. But we were driving along that Sunday, not far from the house, and we saw a sign in a bank parking lot, advertising mini-schnauzer puppies for sale.

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. 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.

**************************************************

Hey All,

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,
K

**************************************************

01-May-2009

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),
KC

**************************************************

Happy Holidays, and events ahead!

The holidays are again upon us, and I mean literally since this is Christmas Eve. Before we know it, 2009 will be underway. I just wanted to take this opportunity to drop everyone a note to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and an outstanding new year to you and your loved ones.

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!

Kathryn Casey