Gwen Mayo's second novel, Concealed in Ash, is now available on Kindle. The print version will soon be available.
Former Pinkerton Agent Nessa Donnelly has nearly forgotten life before trading in her skirts for her brother's suit. As “Ness Donnelly”, she’s become Kentucky's most prominent detective, but her success is built upon a foundation of lies. Now she must help Doc Haydon, the county medical examiner, identify a murder victim discovered in the ashes of Lexington's Phoenix Hotel. The victim is Fergus O’Brien, Mary Katherine McGuire’s uncle. Nessa first met Mary Katherine on a blind date, and their relationship bloomed. Beulah, her beloved housekeeper and ally, warns Nessa that she is creating expectations, but Nessa waves her off.
Unfortunately, evidence from the hotel room puts Mary Katherine at the scene on the night of the fire. The more Nessa learns, the stronger the case against Mary Katherine grows. Worst of all, though, Doc Haydon has taken an interest in Mary Katherine himself – which bothers Nessa far more than she thinks it should.
When a colored boy is charged with murdering O’Brien, a white man, Nessa’s first reaction is relief. Professor Percival Pettijohn, a quirky inventor, pleads with Nessa to save Jake, his young assistant, from the gallows. The lad had good reason to kill O'Brien, but Pettijohn is certain he was framed. Nessa is reluctant to help until she discovers that Pettijohn's assistant is Beulah’s grandson.
Haydon, Donnelly, and Pettijohn put their lives on the line as a mob attempts to lynch the youngster. Stopping the mob once is not enough; O'Brien was involved with the Red Strings, a vigilante group with Northern sympathies. They show up in force, along with their mortal enemies, the Ku Klux Klan. Finding the real killer is the only hope Jake has, but this means Nessa must place herself between the Klan and the Red Strings.
Get ready for the long-awaited sequel to Gwen Mayo's first novel! We'll be launching it in the next few days.
This book has been a long time coming. Gwen's work on Concealed in Ash was interrupted when we made a radical life change - moving from Kentucky to Florida - due to life circumstances. But it was only an interruption, and we're pleased to share the good news with you!
Stay tuned for more information.
Gwen Mayo's first novel, Circle of Dishonor, is now available on Kindle again. The print version will follow shortly.
Nessa Donnelly and her brother were Pinkerton agents during the Civil War. After her brother was murdered by the Knights of the Golden Circle, she took his identity and pursued them. Fifteen years later, she's still living under her brother's name, looking for the killers. When Lexington prostitute Belle Brezing comes to her for help, Nessa follows a string of bodies that lead her to the Knights... but if she's not careful, she could be their next trophy.
This revision (the original was published by Pill Hill Press) reveals more details about Nessa Donnelly's background. It also contains a section of historical notes after the story.
If you didn't catch the novel in its first run, grab it now. The sequel, Concealed in Ash, will be out later this year.
"Mayo’s depiction of late-19th century Kentucky is fascinating, and the mystery is ably handled. The author has a knack for the telling detail, giving us a picture of a society struggling to recover from the consequences of the Civil War. Recommended."
History and Mystery, Oh My! is a finalist in the Short Fiction category for the 2015 FAPA President's Award. The Florida Authors & Publishers Association awards these annually. Monstermatt Patterson took the gold last year with Ha-Ha! Horror.
HMOM is up against two other story collections for the gold.
The awards will be given on August 8th. Keep your fingers crossed!
In other news: the winner of the Goodreads Giveaway is Barbara in Florida. And no, we don't know her. :) We had 715 entries for the drawing, which is our highest total ever.
Here's an excerpt from the book to tease you:
I hate reading modern detective stories that relate everything that happens to the movies. Rarely does this crap ever mimic the atrocities that some call cinematic experiences; more like celluloid extortion. Vampires don’t look like models or teen heartthrobs, Frankenstein’s creation, who isn’t called Frankenstein, is not a brainless oaf but more articulate than most Ivy League graduates, and zombies don’t eat brains, they feed on the souls of the newly dead to delay their own decay. But damn it, once in a while Hollywood gets it right; werewolves killed by silver, check. And that damned Book of the dead, yeah it’s real, too.
Alex Azar, his biographer, is sharing several cases he finds memorable in a new book titled Nightmare Noir, which will be available on Amazon on Monday.
Which of the cases in the collection had the most impact on your life, and why?
That may be the easiest and most difficult question to answer. 'Control', which accounts the first time Thaddeus and I took on the returning Ibn'Roth. It still weighs heavy on my heart thinking about that first trip to Chicago, and the lives we lost on that case. We may have thwarted this god's return, but I can't count it as a victory. Too often loss seems to be the driving force for the things I did, and for so much after that case was because of those losses.
I noticed that your first solo case took you from New Jersey to Kansas; for a Jersey boy that must have been like visiting another planet. How did you feel about the vast open fields and near absence of trees?
It was the noise, or lack of, that hit me first. Newark is very much the sister city of New York, and we share that constant hum of life through sound that the Big Apple has. You could hear your own heart beat in the quiet fields of Kansas. I will say, I do remember stealing a moment during all that craziness to admire the night sky and all the stars that the city's light pollution steal from the view.
Could you tell us a little about the reasons for naming your weapons?
Every occupation has its own superstitions and detectives, both paranormal and normal, have their own; it is bad luck to go on a case with an unnamed weapon. As if to prove the point, during the aforementioned 'Under the Hood of Winter' I lost a favorite of mine that I hadn't named.
Why “Stacy” and “Gwen?” (No, readers, Gwen was not named for me; that is pure coincidence)
We're going back a while now. You're too young to remember a show called Two Faces West, but it was about these twin brothers both played by Charles Bateman. One was a physician seeking to heal the western town through its citizens, while his more violent brother, the sheriff, was quick with his gun. I was really drawn to the duality Charles brought to the show, something I think is in all of us. But I digress, Stacy was the name of the character played by the beautiful Joyce Meadows.
Something I haven't shared with many people, Gwen was my daughter's middle name. More than a dedication to her, I feel she's now protecting me.
Have you trained others to continue your work? If not, what do you foresee happening if you retire (now that you've been retired for some time)?
I hadn't trained anyone to take continue for me. I wouldn't want to encourage anyone to lead the life I lived during that time. The fact I'm here alive able to talk to you now, is a miracle I thank God for. I know too many good men and women that can't say the same. Unfortunately, the nature of this world that most people don't see means there's always more James Peckmans being brought into the life through similar tragedies I went through all those years ago. But we should all be thankful there are people standing up to the darkness, so we don't have to.
Welcome, sir. I know you don't usually go in for interviews, but our readers would like to know a little more about you. For instance, I noticed that Mr. Azar chose stories from very different stages of your career. What are your feelings about having only a small sampling of your cases included in the book?
You're right, this is only a small sampling of the various cases I've had over the years, but if I'm being honest my memory isn't what it used to be, and these are just the first stories I was able to recall for Alex. If demand calls for it, I'm sure he could fill more volumes to fill in some of the blanks I left out.
There is nothing in the book about your years as a police officer. Could you tell us a little about why you chose law enforcement as a career?
Looking back at it now, I'm fairly confident I didn't have a choice. My father was a detective for the NYPD, as was his father before him. I was bred for this, at least it seemed like I was until I lost my family.
You mention the deaths of your wife and daughter as driving forces behind leaving law enforcement. Can you explain why that made you choose to be a private detective, rather than having the force of the police behind your work?
I would have loved to have the Newark Police Department aiding me. Unfortunately soon after Talia and Sophia's deaths, I learned if I was going to avenge them, I had to work in shadows the police couldn't follow. Becoming a private paranormal detective afforded me the resources I lacked when I first entered that world.
Can you tell me a little about the “old world values” you hold dear? For instance, are they cultural, ethnic, or religious in nature? How did they influence your work?
Most readers may be surprised that religion played a large part of who I was when I was on the job, both as a detective for the police, and in the private sector. I don't have many memories, in general at this point, heh, but of my grandmother in particular. The one thing that really stood out about her, was her devotion to her religion. Seeing the comfort it gave her in the most trying of times actually relaxed me, even at a young age. So it was something I grew up with, then I entered this world of alien gods, and vampires, and I just knew there had to be force looking out for us. That's why, to this day, I keep my rosary beads handy.
Next: Part II.
Monday, there will be more giveaways to celebrate the book launch. In the meantime, the Goodreads giveaway is still going on. Drop by to register in the April 30th drawing!
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