Eye of Newt is a short story I originally published in the collection Catch of the Day. I’ve republished it 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 forthcoming 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 own 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 my newest book of short stories. Like my first, 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 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. As Chloe works frantically to save her daughter’s life, she discovers that the man she loves shares a terrible secret with the kidnapper. A twisted web of betrayal, revenge, and murder, leading to a heart-pounding confrontation on the Yaquina Bay Bridge.
I think of The Pieta in Ordinary Time as 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.