Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Skies of Ash - Release Day

It's here!

It's queer!

It's not going away!

SKIES OF ASH is alive in book stores near you!

What's it about?

Los Angeles homicide detective Elouise "Lou" Norton and her partner, Colin Taggert, arrive at the scene of a tragic house fire. Juliet Chatman perished in the blaze, along with her two children. Left behind is grieving husband and father Christopher Chatman, hospitalized after trying to rescue his family. Chatman is devastated that he couldn't save them.

Unless, of course, he's the one who killed them.

Neighbors and family friends insist the Chatmans were living the dream. But Lou quickly discovers the reality was very different. The flames of adultery, jealousy, scandal, fraud, and disease had all but consumed the Chatmans' marriage before it went up in smoke.

Lou's own marriage hangs by a thread. Soured by the men in her life, Lou is convinced that Chatman started the fire. Her colleagues worry that her personal issues are obscuring her judgment. With very little evidence regarding the fire—and rising doubts about her husband's commitment to monogamy—Lou feels played by all sides.

Was the fire sparked by a serial arsonist known as The Burning Man? Or by the Chatmans' son, who regularly burned his father's property?

Searching for justice through the ashes of a picture-perfect family, Lou doesn't know if she will catch an arsonist or be burned in the process.

Here's an excerpt:

I trudged toward the wreck, its death scent assaulting my nostrils. Colin met me halfway with the coffee cup extended.

I took the drink and glanced at his crisp blue jeans. The creases were as sharp as thousand- year- old cheddar. “You just take the dry cleaner’s plastic off?” I asked.

He held up a leg. “Can you tell?”

“Not at all.”

“Bodies are still in the house,” he said, “and the firefighters need to get some debris out of the way so we can see ’em. They’re thinkin’ we can go in, in about an hour.”

I checked my watch— that would take us to eleven.

“So the next- door neighbor,” Colin said, “an old lady named Virginia Oliver.” He pivoted and pointed at the house with the animal- shaped hedges. “She lives right there. She called it in around three- forty this mornin’. Mrs. Oliver says she started not to call cuz the smoke detectors in that house were always goin’ off. Seemed like the Chatmans—”

“That the family name?” I asked.

He nodded. “The son was always settin’ shit on fi re. So the old lady thought nothin’ of it ’til she heard the fi re. She said, and I quote, ‘Sounded like God was frying bacon.’ According to another neighbor, Eli Moss”— he pointed to the green bungalow with the baby grand piano—“a patrol unit got here before the fi re trucks. I’m guessin’ because of the ‘kill me’ part of Mrs. Chatman’s 911 call.”

“You talk to the R/O?”

Colin nodded. “His name is Bridges. He says when he got here, the fire was mostly in the center of the house, second story. He tried to get in, but that”— he pointed to the wrought- iron security door propped against the house’s side—“kept him out. The fire trucks got here a few minutes later. The neighbor says that once the trucks got here, it took them some time to find the hydrant, which is at the end of the block and too far for the one- hundred- foot hose.”

I shook my head. “Ticktock.”

“Almost an hour into the fire— that would be close to five o’clock— the man of the house, Christopher Chatman, pulled up in his car.” He pointed to the dark blue Jaguar sedan now covered in LA snow and abandoned near a sawhorse.

I frowned. “It’s five in the morning and Christopher Chatman ain’t home?”

Colin smirked. “Yep.”

“Why the wonky hours? He a doctor or an astronaut or something?” “He’s a commodities broker. Don’t know what the hell that is, but there you go. Anyway, he pulls up, runs to the house, makes it a few feet away from the front porch, where he’s tackled by a few of the heroes. Seems he was tryin’ to save his wife and kids. Her name is Juliet and the kids are Chloe and Cody.”

“Are all three dead?”

“Yeah.”

Lieutenant Rodriguez had warned me that there would be blood, but I still wanted to make him a liar.

“And where the hell was Mr. Chatman?” I asked.

Colin peered at me. “Pissed already?”

“No time like the present. Where was he?”

“At work.”




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