by Loretta Jackson
& Vickie Britton
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a Kindle copy of The Victim’s Child, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
And the killer had no face…
In our newest suspense release, The Victim’s Child, Lara Radburn arrives at her rental property to find local artist, Crystal Mar, dead and her four-year-old daughter, Karma, missing. Lara has come to Quachita Springs to manage the family property after her brother died in a tragic accident. As she is frantically searching for the child, she encounters a mysterious stranger, and together they locate Karma hidden in the nearby woods.
The child cannot identify her mother’s killer, and in her traumatized state insists she was killed by a lion. Crystal has been bludgeoned to death with the stone statue of a lion she had been working on, and in the child’s mind the face of the killer has merged with that of the fierce predator. Lara discovers the stranger, who suddenly disappears, is Dane Lanford, the current manager of her late brother’s mystery-shrouded art retreat…and sheriff Scott Tyler’s prime suspect in the murder of Crystal Mar.
We drew our inspiration for the novel from many summers spent in the Ozarks around Hot Springs, Arkansas, which was our father’s favorite vacation spot. For years the scenic town has been popular with the tourists and also with artists and art colonies. We attended, with no intention of buying, the fancy art auctions on main street where paintings sold for incredible prices.
A big park overlooks the city, and we used this for inspiration for a scene in our book where Dane and Lara have a picnic with Karma. There is a fountain in the park where a person can fill up jugs with mineral water. Our mom and dad always claimed it was good for us, so they’d encourage us to drink it, even though it tasted like soap and smelled like rotten eggs. Still, some claim the water is the fountain of youth!
We always went to Bathhouse Row, where our dad also liked to take a bath. There is no community pool, only individual baths. He would give us money for our baths, and we would watch him disappear into the dark, spooky recesses of the old building. Filled with reading horror tales about old bath houses and psychotic nurses, we never had the nerve to face the unknown alone. We waited for Dad, who never learned our secret; we were too afraid to go inside!
We usually camped at the park in Hots Spring, and one thing we left out of our book is the mosquitoes, which descend like miniature vampires. The sultry heat and the buzzing drone of mosquitoes made for many a restless night!
In later years, we retuned with our families, and Vickie’s son and a nephew decided to take the long hike to the tower we remembered taking as children. We started supper as we waited for their return—but they didn’t come back. Darkness fell and panic set in. We began imagining all kinds of things, including kidnapping, abduction, murder…we had just alerted the park ranger when two dark shadows appeared in the distance. The boys had gotten lost and had kept looping around the trail until they found their way back. I’m sure this experience influenced the writing of our story where Karma hides in the woods and Crystal searches for her.
In our story, when Crystal’s little daughter sees her mother being killed while she was sculpting the statue of a lion, the innocent child is confronted with a terrible trauma that goes beyond the realm of her experience to process. Memory, and how it works, is of interest to both of us and will play a big part in our next suspense set in Kansas that centers around a young woman who returns to her home town and to a host of dangerous memories. We are also just finishing the tenth book in our High Country Mystery Series. The first book, Murder in Black and White, has just been released in audio by Books in Motion.
To enter to win a Kindle copy of The Victim’s Child, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “victim,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 9, 2020. US only, and must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week! Watch for a future podcast episode featuring a short story by Vicki and Loretta.
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