Meet the characters: Detective Madison Harper

Interview with Detective Madison Harper from Shadow Falls (Book 1 of 3 in this crime series):

Hi Madison. Could you tell us a little about yourself as you work on your first missing person case in Shadow Falls, California?

Sure. I’m in my mid-thirties and originally from a small town called Lost Creek in southern Colorado. I’d still be living there if I hadn’t served time in prison for a murder I didn’t commit. I have one son, Owen, and I have no idea where he is. He’ll be seventeen now but he was ten when he was taken from me after my arrest. I’ve been a cop for five years and just made detective before I was framed. Now I’m out of prison my goal is to clear my name, find my son and get my job back. I’m going to be busy.

Why did you become a detective?

I hate injustice. I’ve always hated seeing anyone get away with breaking the law and ruining people’s lives, even more so since I was framed for the murder of a fellow officer. I find satisfaction in helping victims get the justice they deserve in order to be able to move on with their lives.

What was it like spending 6 years in prison for a crime you didn’t commit?

I could go into detail but it would put you off your dinner, so let’s just say it was as bad as you’d expect it to be. A lot of the women in my prison were victims themselves. Our criminal justice system has a lot to answer for and prison should be about rehabilitation and education but instead it’s mostly about punishment, which means everybody is labelled as bad, instead of by scale of their potential to turn their lives around. I made some friends inside, but it was hard serving someone else’s sentence, especially as I had no idea where my son was. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. The days were long but the nights were longer as I’d wonder what Owen looked like now, and if I’d even recognize him in the street if I ever walked past him after my release. I don’t even know if he ever thinks about me. Has he got a new mother now? These are questions that keep me awake at night.

How did you meet Nate Monroe?

I’m smiling when you mention Nate because we were like chalk and cheese at first. Nate is someone who served 17 years on death row for the murder of his fiancée, except he didn’t kill her and was recently exonerated at 39 years old. He was known as the ‘killer priest’ in the media because he’d been training to become a priest before he gave it up for the woman he wanted to marry, but she was cruelly taken from him when they were just 20 years old. He became a PI on his release from prison and I watched his story play out in the media when I was inside. I knew he’d be the best person to track down who framed me, and to help me find my son, so I literally begged him to take on my case and give me a job too. He took a lot of persuading but eventually he agreed. He’s been a good boss, if a little unconventional. It’s thanks to him we have a retired police dog, Brody, tagging along with us everywhere we go. Nate’s a sucker for picking up strays.

What’s it like delivering bad news to the parents of child victims?

The case we’re in Shadow Falls to investigate is that of a missing 12-year-old girl; Jenny Lucas. She vanished whilst at a summer camp. Her parents are beside themselves but it’s the grandmother who gets me. She’s trying to do everything in her power to find that little girl. It sometimes feels like she’s got a stronger bond with Jenny than the parents do, so it’s killing her to think of the girl being away from the family with a potential predator. She’s the one who hired us to look into the case since the local police don’t have any leads. I just want to be able to reunite them so I never have to deliver the news they don’t want to hear.

What’s it like living in small town Colorado?

Lost Creek, Colorado is remote to say the least. It’s nestled amongst mountains and forests and has the most beautiful scenery you could ever want. But that place is troubled. The welcome sign says Lost Creek is “where the lost are found”, but whoever thought that up must have been on drugs. There are good people in every town of course, but also bad, and I fear that if I ever get back to Lost Creek – which is my ultimate aim – I’ll find out that the person who framed me for murder all those years ago is someone who was close to me. Someone who wanted me put away for a reason. I just have to figure out what that reason was.

Shadow Falls is available to buy on amazon and kindle unlimited here. Ebook, audiobook and paperback.

Book 2 in the series: Cry For Help

Book 3 in the series: Little Girl Taken

— If you have any questions for any of my characters drop me a line on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll host an interview with them using your questions! —

Detective Madison Harper’s heart shatters when she searches the bedroom of twelve-year-old Jenny Lucas, the sweet little girl last seen splashing in the lake at Shadow Falls, northern California, with her friends before she vanished. A notebook decorated with stickers pokes out beneath a pink cowboy hat on the bed, which is neatly made up, ready for her return. Madison can’t help wondering why it took their close-knit community so long to raise the alarm.

The girl’s parents are distraught, and the local police have no leads—they desperately need Madison’s help. She knows better than most what it’s like to lose a child, and she won’t let it happen again, even if that means pressing Jenny’s grieving family for answers.

Then, canvassing the local area for hidden leads, Madison discovers a disturbing portrait Jenny drew at the local library. Was this angelic girl more troubled than anybody knew? Was she in danger from those she trusted most? If Madison’s instincts are right, then the life of another innocent child could also be at riskshe must find Jenny fast…

An absolutely unputdownable crime thriller that will keep you up all night!

What readers are saying

5 star reviews:

Wow, wow, wow!… A read-all-night page-turner of the highest order… I was hooked from page one… I was kept guessing until the very end.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Wow!… Awesome! I was on the edge of my seat getting whiplash from reading so fast!!’ Barbs Beautiful Bookshelf, 5 stars

I LOVED THIS BOOK!… I was hooked It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through… so many twists and turns that keep you guessing.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Wow, just wow.’ Spooky’s Maze Of Books, 5 stars

Wow… an absolutely thrilling read… unpredictable and brilliant. I LOVED IT!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

OH MY DAYS!!!!… Gah, I am still thinking about this book!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Cover reveal for Little Girl Taken

I’m excited to reveal the cover for the third book in my Detective Madison Harper crime series: Little Girl Taken.

It’s available to pre-order as an ebook on amazon here and it will be released in ebook, audiobook and paperback on 29th July 2021. It follows Shadow Falls (book 1 in the series) and Cry For Help (book 2), but it could also be enjoyed as a standalone crime thriller.

Little Girl Taken begins on Madison’s first day back as a detective at Lost Creek Police Department after her wrongful conviction (and serving six years in prison) for the murder of a fellow cop. But can she pick up where she left off? PI Nate Monroe and former police dog Brody are also back and along for the ride.

Here’s the cover and blurb:

Rain rattles through the trees as she leans into the car, careful not to touch anything. Two pretty blue eyes stare back through the dark, wide with relief, or maybe fear. A baby girl, wrapped up in a pink snowsuit, reaches out a tiny hand. Her mother is nowhere to be found…

An abandoned baby is the last thing Detective Madison Harper expects to find as she drives to her first day back at work since the case that ripped her life apart. But as she cradles the shivering child close, all her instincts tell her there’s something more sinister at play. Then she finds a lone sneaker down a muddy trail nearby, the laces spattered with blood…

In a town as small as Lost Creek, Colorado, the baby and the shoe are quickly identified as belonging to Kacie Larson, a waitress at the local diner who quietly stashed away her tips to make a better life for her daughter. A mother herself, Madison can’t believe that Kacie would just abandon her child, but she also can’t convince her new team. Not for the first time, Madison feels she must go it alone to get the job done.

But when a body is pulled from a nearby lake, and it’s not Kacie, the case takes an agonizing turn. Is this missing mother really who she says she is? Is there a chance she’s still alive? Madison barely has time to think before the sweet little girl she rescued is snatched on a crowded street. Gone, in the blink of an eye.

To break this case and earn her place back on the force, Madison must learn to trust her team, and herself again—and fast. If she doesn’t find this twisted individual in time, a little girl could die…

A pulse-pounding, absolutely gripping and totally addictive page-turner that will have you racing through the pages and reeling at the twists.

I hope you enjoy it!

Wendy xx

New book announcement!

A bit of an update for those readers who are asking for all the gossip about my next book…  I’ve recently signed a publishing contract with Ruby Fiction for the third book in the Dean Matheson crime series!

Book 1 – Who Cares if They Die

Book 2 – Where the Snow Bleeds

Book 3 will be published in January 2020. OMG, that’s only 2 months away! What’s it called? You’ll have to wait a little longer to find out! Once the book cover and title have been revealed on social media (follow me on Twitter for the latest updates), I’ll post an update here with both.

So, what can I tell you about book 3? Well, it’s finally time to see whether Dean can cut it as a detective. In book 1 we follow him as a police officer itching to make detective, and when he’s given a chance to stand in for a colleague, it doesn’t go the way he had hoped. In book 2 he realises he needs more investigative experience so he tries his luck as a private investigator in the snowy mountains of Colorado on a particularly messed-up case. Now, in book 3, he’s got what he always wanted – he’s Detective Dean Matheson. We follow him on his first month in the job and what a month it is! Murder, deception and twists test Dean’s detective skills, but can he follow through to the end or will his greatest adversary derail him once and for all?

Thought you’d seen the last of Beth Smith at the end of book 1? So did Dean! And this time, only one of them can survive…

I’m so excited about book 3 as this is what Dean has been working towards for so long and even I didn’t know whether he’d be any good as a detective when I started writing it. I think readers are in for a few surprises, along with some familiar faces turning up and of course Rocky, Dean’s lovable rottweiler. That’s all I can say without spoilers!

For more teaser updates on book 3 and for the pre-order link, keep an eye on my Twitter and Facebook pages!

Book Review – The Shining

I first read Stephen King’s The Shining 25 years ago as a teenager but I couldn’t really remember it. My memories were blurred by Stanley Kubrick’s amazing adaptation (I don’t know why SK doesn’t like it! It’s so much better than his own TV adaptation.). So I’ve read it again in preparation of re-reading Doctor Sleep – which again I can’t even remember, other than being disappointed – ready for watching the new movie which is released on 31st October 2019. What a perfect movie for Halloween.

I collect Stephen King’s books. I have different versions of many of the books, because I love the different covers. I have three copies of The Shining, here are two of them. The other is the Jack Nicholson mass market paperback cover.

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I loved every page of The Shining, it actually exceeded my expectations and even scared me in places – that elevator coming to life! Those hedge animals! It’s a shame neither of those elements are in the movie. I ignored my own writing deadlines to read this, whilst not wanting it to end. I do prefer the book’s ending to the movie’s version. Jack is a great character and I’ll always see him as Jack Nicholson. The Overlook is an amazing hotel with a grim history that explains why it’s haunted, and Colorado has a special place in my heart because of this book. I actually set Where the Snow Bleeds there and drop in a little mention of ‘that hotel up near Estes Park’ as a nod to my love of this book.

So imagine my delight when a friend told me there was a review of my book stating it reminded someone of The Shining!

This may now be my favourite Stephen King novel, knocking IT off that top spot. The recent movie adaptations of IT really put me off but I’ll always have fond memories of reading it over and over as a teenager and wishing I was in the loser’s club.

So next for me is a re-read of Doctor Sleep. I’m looking forward to seeing what happened next for Danny and his mum.

Where the Snow Bleeds – taster!

Yesterday, my second Dean Matheson crime thriller – Where the Snow Bleeds – was released as an eBook and audiobook. The taster (prologue) is coming up below but first, let’s see how things have changed for Dean since we last saw him in Who Cares If They Die (available now as paperback/eBook/audiobook).

In the first book he was reeling from the shock of his brother’s suicide, which caused him to make some terrible life choices. His ultimate goal has always been to become a homicide detective (he’s currently a police officer) and when he gets a chance to give that a try, he basically screws it up. Literally! 😊

By the end of book 1 we see a broken and disheartened Dean who makes the choice to leave the police force and his home town of Maple Valley. He heads to Las Vegas to become a private investigator, with his loyal wannabe police dog – Rocky – beside him.

So, in Where the Snow Bleeds we see how Dean is coping living and working in Las Vegas. He’s not enjoying it because he finds the job to be far more boring than he expected, as it mainly involves catching dog thieves. So when a woman walks into his office with an interesting case, he can’t resist. The woman’s daughter has gone missing whilst working at the Winter Pines Ski Resort in the creepy, desolate town of Lone Creek, Colorado. Dean agrees to visit the town and find out what happened.

This is where we meet Detective Eva Valdez for the first time. She was a great character to write as she’s strong and independent and the last thing she wants is some failed cop trying to help her. But she and Dean quickly realise they need to work together in order find Hannah and Jodie, the missing girls, before it’s too late.

Hannah already has a tragic backstory, as told from her point of view in my first novel – The Girl Who Died. Here we learn why she moved to the US from the UK, which clearly isn’t working out for her!

Early reviews of Where the Snow Bleeds confirm the story is dark and compelling, which is exactly what I was aiming for.

Book 3 – as yet untitled – is now finished and takes Dean in a direction even I wasn’t expecting…

Here’s the prologue from Where the Snow Bleeds, to whet your appetite! (Available from all digital platforms, including Amazon, now!)

 

Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Trixie, the pure white Pomeranian who would almost certainly vanish into the thick blanket of snow but for her small black nose and fake Chanel collar, is doing something very unladylike. But boy, is she enjoying it. As she licks away, relishing the salty flavour and thick, greasy texture of this red liquid she’s never tasted anywhere before, she can hear her mother shouting for her. This is followed by crunching and panting sounds as her mother treads closer into the dense woods.

‘Trixie? Trixie, baby! Where did you go?’

Trixie yaps in excitement as her mother approaches, happy to share with her this new culinary delight. But she doesn’t turn around just yet because she wants some more for herself. A shadow suddenly blocks out the daylight.

‘Here you are, baby! That was very naughty to run away like that! Mummy’s trying to eat warm cookies after a long day on the slopes.’

Trixie’s mother, a wannabe-socialite from New York State, sounds relieved to have found her. She doesn’t notice or care what’s caught Trixie’s interest, assuming it’s the scent of yet another pine squirrel. Instead, in her relief, she reaches down, scoops her up and rubs her face all over Trixie’s without looking, which is their usual way of greeting.

‘Here’s mummy! Yes, here I am!’ she coos. Suddenly, she stops. She holds Trixie out, to look at her properly for the first time since she ran off.

Trixie blinks at her, then wags her tail. She’s eager to please but even more eager to get back to the good stuff. The scream, as her mother notices the bright red blood that covers Trixie’s soft white face, echoes through the Rocky Mountains and almost pierces poor Trixie’s delicate ears. Trixie suddenly finds herself discarded on the ground, confused.

As her mother dives away in disgust, heading for the safety of a bathroom to wash her face, Trixie trots back to the discarded hiking boot which her mother never even noticed.

‘Trixie!’ her mother yells after her as she retreats. ‘You come away from whatever dead animal you’ve found right now, you naughty girl!’

Trixie looks longingly at the jagged ankle bone that’s sticking out from snow-covered boot before obediently running after her mother.

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Book trailer:

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Where the Snow Bleeds – update!

The second book in the Dean Matheson crime series is now available for worldwide pre-order!

Where the Snow Bleeds is the sequel to Who Cares If They Die (it can also be read standalone).

Dean is no longer working as a police officer after his stressful and somewhat unsuccessful attempt at playing detective in book 1. He’s now working as a private investigator with Rocky, his wannabe police dog, still by his side.

When a woman walks into his Las Vegas office and asks for his help in finding her missing teenage daughter, and her daughter’s friend, up in Lone Creek, Colorado he can’t resist. But he soon finds out that Lone Creek is no Aspen. The ski resort the girls were working in is desolate, with some sinister secrets to hide. It doesn’t help that Dean gets caught in one of the worst snow storms Colorado has ever seen, hampering his efforts to find the missing girls. Luckily, he has local Detective, Eva Valdez, to work with. But she’s not falling for Dean’s charms. She does things her way and she’s determined not to let any man screw things up for her.

Will Dean find the missing girls before it’s too late? Or will his past failures get in his way? You’ll have to read Where the Snow Bleeds to find out…

Available to pre-order on Amazon now!

Here’s the official blurb and cover reveal:

“You want to know what I’ve learnt after living in Lone Creek all my life? I know the snow bleeds here, Mr Matheson …”

Former police officer Dean Matheson has been playing it safe since the case that cost him almost everything. But working as a PI doesn’t quite cut it, that is until a British woman walks into his office with a job that Dean can’t resist.

The woman’s daughter, Hannah Walker, and her friend Jodie have gone missing whilst working at a ski resort in Colorado. It’s clear there’s something sinister about the girls’ disappearance, but then why are the local police department being so unhelpful?

So begins Dean’s journey to Lone Creek on the trail of the missing girls – and he’ll soon find out that in Lone Creek, everyone has something to hide …

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