Books

Before Our House Fell into the Ocean: Stories of Love and Death is the third collection of short fiction. Readers meet a most unusual cast of characters: John Frost, a criminal who uses the strategies of chess to ferret out and punish the snitch in his drug-dealing organization; Joey Douglas, a zombie who can’t eat meat but craves coffee from his favorite barista; little Cinda, whose wish upon a falling star gives her the chance to see her deceased mother again; young Sonny, helpless to prevent his house from falling off a cliff into the ocean; Dax, an autistic boy who listens to the oak tree in his front yard and learns a hundred-year-old secret; Gary, whose disfigured face can stop a clock, according to the bullies who torment him. These and six other unforgettable characters are the dramatis personae in this offbeat volume of short stories. Fans of the Driftwood Mysteries will be pleased to find within these pages the epilogue to Dungeness and Dragons. Be prepared to laugh and to cry, perhaps to be haunted by one of the voices you hear. After all, love and death sculpt our souls into shapes we couldn’t have imagined.

Dungeness and Dragons is the fourth venture into the Driftwood Mysteries. When the crabbing boat Johnny B. Goode is lost with all hands in a ferocious January storm, Officer Charley Whitehorse, “The Tracker,” believes it was not an Act of God, but an act of murder. At the same time, young women are disappearing up and down the Oregon coast. The latest, Patricia Carmody, has vanished without a trace on her way to audition for a movie. As Whitehorse and his partner, Tony Esperanza, scramble to untangle the web of clues, they tumble into a plot of human trafficking, vicious killings, and international conspiracy. Pour yourself a drink—coffee, tea, wine, or something stronger—turn off your phone, and fasten your seat belt. The ride is about to begin.

Woman in the Waves is the third installment of The Driftwood Mysteries. In a heartbeat, Professor Peter Bristol’s obsessively-ordered life is turned completely upside down. During his weekly walk on the beach, he is  helpless to prevent a young woman in a bridal gown from being swept out to sea. Was she real? Or was she the product of unresolved grief for his late wife? As he embarks upon a mission to find the answers, he uncovers a plot of murder and deceit at the university where he teaches–a nexus of evil far deeper and darker than anything he could have imagined. When he enlists the aid of Police Officers Charley Whitehorse and Tony Esperanza, they become the targets of a clever and brutal killer. The woman in the waves was only the beginning.

Eye of Newt is a short story originally published in the collection Catch of the Day. It has been republished as a stand alone short book to  highlight the fact that it is the second installment of The Driftwood Mysteries. As it turns out, it is both epilogue to the novel, Seal of Secrets, and prologue to the novel, Woman in the Waves. The formerly quiet town of Driftwood, Oregon, has barely recovered from the ravages of the ex-convict Raven, after a pulse-pounding showdown on the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport. Now Dr. Sterling Friese, Professor of Biology at Pacific Crest University, is using his knowledge of the life sciences to plot the perfect murder. Dean Arlon Wasserman, long suspicious of Friese’s extracurricular activities, has hired Invictus Investigations to expose the philandering teacher. Friese will stop at nothing to prevent that from happening, even if it means killing his boss. Hot on his trail, Police Officers Charley Whitehorse and Tony Esperanza will do all in their power to bring the brilliant and ruthless man to justice.

Catch of the Day is a second volume of short stories. Like the first collection, it’s a mix of genres: literary, mystery and suspense, humor, even nostalgia. It features “Eye of Newt,” the tale of a university professor who uses his knowledge of biology to plot the perfect murder. Other stories: A psychologist recovers the lost childhood memories of her mother’s murder. Two brothers must confront their childhood wounds at the bedside of their dying father. A man is forced to relive the worst moments of his life. A prominent scientist is hired to authenticate an ancient document that will change the history of the world. A discontented man surrenders his life to the crows that inhabit his neighborhood.

Seal of Secrets is the first installment of the Driftwood Mysteries. The sleepy coastal town of Driftwood, Oregon, is about to be awakened by big-city crime. An ex-convict named Raven is on a rampage. After killing two convenience store clerks, he kidnaps Kaitlynn, adolescent daughter of Chloe Denhurst. Chloe joins forces with Native American police officer Charley Whitehorse and his partner, Tony Esperanza, to rescue her daughter. Then she discovers that the man she loves shares a terrible secret with the kidnapper. A twisted web of betrayal, revenge, and murder leads to a heart-pounding confrontation on the Yaquina Bay Bridge.

The Pieta in Ordinary Time is a “salad” of short fiction. From droll humor to creepy suspense to thoughtful meditations on life and death, the stories are vivid narratives meant to evoke a response from the reader. In one, a refugee seeks shelter after Seattle has been destroyed by a nuclear bomb. In another, a successful business woman must travel back East to visit her brother dying of cancer, after his cryptic message that he knows “how the oyster feels.” A third describes the life of a young singer and college student establishing her own identity apart from her abusive past. One story is the comic descent into madness of a home owner whose house is being destroyed by a malevolent woodpecker. In another, a priest hears the confession of a serial killer and is powerless to prevent him from killing again. One reviewer described the volume of 16 stories as “like a whole season of The Twilight Zone.”

Songs for the Journey Home is a saga of faith, fall, and redemption. Four adolescent boys meet in a Catholic seminary in 1962, but eventually go their separate ways. Fifty years later, one of them, now a successful mental health therapist, sees a viral video of a bank robbery gone terribly wrong. He recognizes that the hostage killed in the bank was his best friend from decades ago. When he goes to work that morning, he is put on administrative leave after two of his patients claim he sexually abused them. The last straw occurs when he returns home only to be served divorce papers from his second wife. With his life in shambles, he embarks upon a quest to find out all he can about his murdered friend, and to recover the faith that  he lost fifty years before. 

All these books are available in Kindle and paperback versions on Amazon. Seal of Secrets and Eye of Newt are also available in audio versions.