Friday, July 14, 2017



In Jane Haseldine’s new novel of riveting suspense, Detroit newspaper reporter Julia Gooden is up against the city’s most devious criminal—and her own painful past. Julia Gooden knows how to juggle different lives. A successful crime reporter, she covers the grittiest stories in the city while raising her two young boys in the suburbs. But beneath that accomplished fa├žade is another Julia, still consumed by a tragedy that unfolded thirty years ago when her nine-year-old brother disappeared without a trace.

Julia’s marriage, too, is a balancing act, as she tries to rekindle her relationship with her husband, Assistant District Attorney David Tanner, while maintaining professional boundaries. David is about to bring Nick Rossi to trial for crimes that include drug trafficking, illegal gambling, and bribery. But the story becomes much more urgent when a courthouse bomb claims several victims—including the prosecution’s key witness—and leaves David critically injured.

Though Julia is certain that Rossi orchestrated the attack, the case against him is collapsing, and his power and connections run high and wide. With the help of Detective Raymond Navarro of the Detroit PD, she starts following a trail of blackmail, payback, and political ambition, little imagining where it will lead. Julia has risked her career before, but this time innocent lives—including her children’s—hang in the balance, and justice may come too late to save what truly matters . . .


1.    Love or money?
       Love, of course! And lots of it!

2.    Plain or peanut?
       Plain, but with plenty of chocolate, please.

3.    Beef or chicken?
       Besides fish, I’m a vegetarian these days, so neither. But I have no problem with people (my
       husband and two little boys included) digging into a juicy steak or a tub of KFC.

4.    Coffee or tea?
       My dad was from England, so it seemed like it was always teatime in our house growing up. But,
       unless I’m under the weather, I’m a coffee gal, all the way. It makes me drowsy just thinking
       about this question. Any chance you have a cup?

5.    Nope. I'm a sweet tea girl. Sorry! Oxford comma: yes or no?
       I’m a former newspaper reporter where I covered the crime beat (like my main character, Julia
       Gooden).  It seems like every editor I worked for had a different preference, so I’m likely a bit
       schizophrenic on the Oxford comma, (and I find that in the original drafts of my manuscripts,
       I’m that way too-sometimes I use it and sometimes I don’t). But if I had to take a side, I guess
       I’m an Oxford comma chick.

6.    Hardback or Kindle?
       This probably sounds weird, but I love the smell of books. I don’t own a Kindle. I’m a hardcover
       person by far. I love holding a book in my hands when I’m curled up in my reading chair at

7.    Salty or sweet?
       That’s like asking me which one of my kids I like better. I plead the fifth. Chips and chocolate
       are equal in my book.

8.    City or country?
       I’m a big city chick. I’ve lived in Boston, San Francisco, and New York. If you stick me in a
       strange city I’ve never been to before, I’ll be able to navigate the subway system fairly easily.
       But if I’m in the woods, I’ll be lost forever. Luckily, my husband is a big outdoorsman, so we
       balance each other out.

9.  Dog or cat?
      I’m crazy for animals and will take in any stray. I adopted three stray kittens and fed and got
      veterinary services for a bunch of stray cats that used to hang out on my mother’s porch. I’d have
      a household of dogs and cats if I could, but my husband won’t let me. I love dogs and cats

10.  Laptop or desktop?
       Laptop most definitely.  I’ve spent my life moving for jobs or for the adventure of it, so my
       computer needs to be mobile too.

11.   Health food or junk food?
        Health food most of the time, but I have been known to drink beer and eat chips.

12.   Mountains or beach?
        I love the beach. I grew up in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and later Gloucester, Massachusetts. I
        can’t imagine life without the ocean.

13.  Gourmet or diner?
        I like both! When I used to live in San Francisco, every Sunday I’d eat at Fog City Diner. But
       whether I’m at a roadside diner in the middle of nowhere with a great piece of pie or drinking a
        lovely glass of Sancerre at a five-star French restaurant, I’m good.

14.  Sweet or unsweet? (Tea of course.)
       I hope this is not a reflection of my personality, but unsweet.

15.  (Gasp!) Humor or drama?
        You need both. In bad situations, we have to laugh, or else we’ll wind up in the corner, rocking
         back and forth. I write suspense novels, but I always try to instill some humor in them.

16.  Dr. Seuss or Mr. Spock?
        My youngest son just graduated from kindergarten, so I have to give props to Dr. Seuss right
        now. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Thanks for the inspiration, Dr. Seuss!

17.  Halloween or Christmas?
       Oh, Christmas, definitely. I love how excited my children get in the morning when they come
       downstairs. There’s a homeless man who lives in his car that’s parked at the local library, and
       I’ve been bringing him food on Christmas for years. I honestly get as much joy when I share my
       family’s meal with him than any gift I receive.

18.  Spring of fall?
       I live in Southern California now, so we really don’t have a change of seasons. I grew up on the
       East Coast, so I miss the fall.

19.  Morning or night?
       I seem to always do my best writing after I put my kids to sleep.

20.  Fame or fortune?
       I think fame can do some strange things to your head if you let it. Fortune probably could too.
       But I’d rather be recognized for my work and have people read my stories than become rich from


Chapter 1

Glenlivet, light on the rocks. A cocktail waitress with bright fuchsia lipstick delivers the drink and motions her head in the direction of the aged fifty-something women two tables down. The recipient of the cocktail turns his head toward the hoots and low whistles from the likely recent divorcees who are ogling him like a lusty spectator sport.

“Want to join us, hon?” the ringleader asks and adjusts her leopard print halter-top to reveal an extra inch of orange, tanned cleavage. In case her intent wasn’t clear enough, the woman scoops a sugar cube from her champagne cocktail, places it between her teeth and starts sucking.

“No thank you,” the businessman answers coolly and places the unwanted drink back on the cocktail waitress’ tray.

He turns his back on the spurned women and locks in on a tall, willowy blond in a white dress that clings to her slender curves as she moves fluidly across the casino floor in his direction.

She pauses at his table, slides into the empty seat across from him and carefully tucks a leather briefcase between her legs.

The rowdy commotion from the neighboring table of women abruptly stops as they wordlessly concede, they’ve been bested by a thoroughbred.

The businessman slips an Italian charcoal grey suit coat over his tall and tightly muscled frame. He tips back the last few sips of the drink he ordered for himself ten minutes earlier and heads toward the lobby, not bothering to look back. He knows the blond will follow.

In the elevator, the mouth of a camera lens captures its occupants’ activities. The pair stand close, but just far enough apart so it doesn’t look obvious they are together, just two attractive strangers in an elevator heading up to their respected rooms. The blond stunner holds the briefcase in her left hand and takes a risk. She lifts her pinky finger up and brushes the back of the businessman’s hand for less than a second.

The elevator arrives on the VIP floor, the best the MGM Grand has to offer.

The blond bends down, slides a key out of the front pocket of the briefcase and opens the hotel room door. Inside, the man stands in front of the floor to ceiling windows. He takes a quick pan of downtown Detroit and then snaps the curtains shut. When it is safe, when they are alone, the blond, now anxious and wanting, drops the briefcase and goes directly for his zipper.

“Wait.” He takes the briefcase over to the bed, opens it, and fans the stack of bills across the mattress like a seasoned blackjack dealer some thirty stories below.

“Two million. You don’t trust me now?” the woman asks with a contrived pout.

He ignores the question until the cash has been fully accounted for.

“Come here,” he commands.

He starts to remove his coat, but she is already there.

“I’ve missed you,” she whispers and cups her long, delicate fingers around his crotch.

He reciprocates by running his hand across the thin silk of her dress directly over her breast, and then squeezes until the blond lets out a gasp.

The blond easily submits when the man pushes her down hard on the bed, letting him believe he still has the upper hand, that he is the aggressor. She stares up at his beautiful face, his breath coming faster now as his body starts to move in a rapid, steady rhythm above her. She doesn’t mind when he closes his eyes. He wants her again, reestablishing her position of control, at least for now. That’s all that matters.

When they are finished, the businessman turns toward the wall in disgust.

“I knew you weren’t through with me yet,” she says. “You take all your hostility out on me in bed. You’re a rough boy, but I like it.”

He ignores her, gets up from the bed, still naked, and heads to the bathroom. The blond is useless to him now. She knows it but still holds on.

“The birthmark on your ass is so sweet. It looks like a crescent moon with a shooting star underneath,” she remarks. “Come back to bed and let me take a closer look.”

The man spins around, anger flashing in his eyes as if the blonde’s comment violated something personal.

“Shut up,” he says.

“No need to talk dirty to me. You know I’ll give you what you want, as long as you give me my share of the money.”

“When it’s over, you’ll get it. That’s the agreement.”

“How do I know you won’t screw me?”

“Because I’m not that guy. The money will be in a safe place.”

“I want access to it.”

“I don’t think so.”

The door to the bathroom slams shut and she is dismissed. Inside the shower, he scrubs every trace of the woman off his body, hoping she will be gone when he comes out. But the blond is still in bed. At least she is sleeping.

The businessman climbs back into his suit, grabs the briefcase and closes the hotel room door quietly behind him. The second elevator in the hallway opens and he disappears inside just as elevator one chimes its arrival to the VIP floor. Its single occupant emerges, a man, squat and thick but moving swiftly like a gymnast. He wears all black, a bulky windbreaker, sweatpants and a baseball cap as if he’s just come from the hotel gym. He lets himself into a room with a key he extracts from a bulky fanny pack that flanks his waist. Inside, he quickly assesses the scene, pulls a tiny camera out from its hiding place inside a fake antique clock on the dresser and tucks it into his coat pocket.

He then retrieves a razor blade and scarf from the pack and heads toward the bed where the blond is still sleeping.

The man moves silently as he eases his body onto the bed. He inches forward across the mattress and then straddles the blond with his hips, locking her in place until she is prone and pinned to the bed. Without opening her eyes, she smiles, thinking her lover has returned. She flicks her tongue across her lips and then opens her mouth expectantly.

“Shhh,” he whispers. “You pay now. We know what you did.”

The woman’s eyes fly open, and she tries to scream out her assailant’s name, but he cuffs one stubby hand across her mouth before she can utter a word. He lifts the razor from his pocket and begins to gently slide the unsharpened side of the blade down her stomach until it reaches the top of her public bone.

“Please!” she begs. “I’ll give you what you want.”

The razor stops short before it makes its final descent.

His breath is warm and steady against her ear. “How do you know what I want?”

“Money. I’ll give it to you.”

He pauses as though considering the request and flicks the dull side of the blade back and forth across her skin.

“God, please. You don’t want money then. Okay. Just tell me what you want and I’ll give it to you.” He shakes his head and teases the sharp edge of the razor blade against her leg.

“Who is it?” he whispers as the razor makes a tiny, precise knick on the inside of her thigh, drawing a single drop of blood that trickles down her ivory skin like a crimson teardrop.

“The name. I’ll give you the name!” she pleads. “Sammy Biggs, the Butcher. He’s the one. I just found out, I swear. I didn’t betray you. He did. Now please! Let me go.”

The hired hand sighs deeply, as if savoring an indulgent pleasure, now finally satisfied. But not quite. Lessons must be learned and never forgotten. The man stuffs the scarf down the woman’s mouth to muffle the pain of her penance. It is engrained in his soul those who sin must atone. He clasps the razor blade between his thumb and middle finger and cuts the blonde’s left earlobe off in one clean slice.

“Hail Mary, full of grace,” he prays as he pulls out a locket from underneath his black T-shirt. He kisses a likeness of the face of the blessed Virgin Mary etched into the front of the gold necklace charm and stuffs his newly won keepsake from the blond into his pocket.


Jane Haseldine is a journalist, former crime reporter, columnist, newspaper editor, magazine writer, and deputy director of communications for a governor. Jane writes the Julia Gooden mystery series for Kensington Publishing.

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