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If I were to get up in the middle of one night, slip into shoes-no-socks, shrug into a jacket, slide out the door, walk downhill toward the sound of a train whiste—this is the thing I’d want to leave behind on the bedside table.

I hope the great-great-granddaughter I’ll never meet finds this on a bookshelf one summer day, when her seahorse is at the vet so she can’t go anywhere, and she reads it.

This book is just what I always wanted, my whole life, even when I didn’t know what I wanted.

The Hollow Lake Trilogy

Inspired by a real-life haunted island in Canada, these three started it all. Deadly Kiss surprised everyone by getting shortlisted by the International Thriller Writers. The award got handed out in the Grand Hyatt Ballroom in New York City by Lee Child...to someone else. It was still a hell of a thing.  People occasionally ask me to go back to Echo Island for a fourth novel, but that isn't up to me. We'll see.

There are ghosts here, just like in real life.

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Deadly Kiss
Finalist- 2017 ITW Best First Novel

In the summer of 1946, a group of children plays a kissing game behind a general store in rural Georgia. It’s just kids having fun, until one innocent kiss leads to the brutal beating death of a ten-year-old boy. The horrific hate crime shakes an entire town. It spawns a series of murders, and a secret that is kept hidden for generations.

 

Decades later, the children have grown old, and none of their lives have been untouched by the kiss. Mike Latta’s estranged father was one of them. He dies before he can finish telling his son the secret.

 

The story leads Mike back into the heat and humidity of a sixty-five-year-old Georgia summer, back to dirt roads and muddy-water fishing holes under wooden bridges, back to a single kiss that has killed, and killed again. It’s a kiss that has slept for decades, but now it’s awake. Learning its secret may cost Mike his life.

 

Fiction inspired by the real life Emmett Till murder, 'Deadly Kiss' is the story of loves that won’t stay lost, and ghosts that just won’t sleep.

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 Caves in the Rain

Mike Latta can’t forgive himself for the death of his daughter. It was a freak accident, but fathers should protect little girls from the bad things that can hurt them. He didn’t, and a descent into divorce and the bottle has gotten rid of every happy ending he ever hoped for.


A year of solitude on an island in northern Hollow Lake, away from the booze and the reminders of grief, may be the last chance he has. There’s more than peace and quiet on the lake though, because the ghosts of a long-ago murder haunt Echo Island. A homicidal psychopath with a grudge complicates things. If Mike can’t figure out what the ghosts want from him, it may cost another little girl her life.

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 A Song for Chloe

What if the love of your life was a ghost? What if you had to make a choice?

Hollow Lake has a legend. The locals say that the spirit of Chloe Hunter, a teenager drowned in 1980, haunts its waters. She has been seen every year since, especially during late autumn when she appears as an eerie figure swimming in near-icy waters. Nick Horan knows the legend, but he doesn't believe in ghosts—until late one night, when he sees Chloe as she wades out of the cold lake. As beautiful as she is terrifying, the vision stirs something inside him before she vanishes into the dark woods. Nick has another problem: he’s on a collision course with a murderer, and her ghost is in the way.

Chloe isn't from here. She's a doorway to somewhere else, and he might just follow her anywhere.

Kahlo & Crowe mysteries

Set in 1947 Santa Teresa, California, in homage to Sue Grafton and Ross Macdonald, who both faithfully reproduced Santa Barbara and called it Santa Teresa. I'm a former denizen too, and go back there in my dreams. This is classic California noir. Annie Kahlo is lovely and emotionally disordered, a femme fatale like no other. Cynical private eye Nate Crowe falls for her, hard. This is the 1940s in color: Pink, Green, Violet, Red, Orange, and White.

Down Dark Blue is coming Winter 2022.

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 Girls in Pink

Santa Teresa, California, 1947: P. I. Nathaniel Crowe has extricated his client, Charlene Cleveland, from a dangerous marriage to a dangerous man, a local hood, Sal Cleveland. Her husband grants the divorce, but then runs her car off the road and shoots her. Crowe is shaken by news of the murder. He resolves to get justice for Charlene, even if it means working for free. He crosses paths with the beautiful and exotic Annie Kahlo, an eccentric artist, who has an old grudge against the gangster. Annie knows a few secrets about Cleveland; secrets that might help Crowe bring the kingpin down. Despite all of his better instincts, Crowe finds himself falling for Annie...hard.

 

‘Girls in Pink’ is neon, wet streets, smoke, venetian blinds and ghosts in pink. It’s echoes of Bogart and Bacall, the summer of 1947... LA noir with a fresh, contemporary feel.

Hau Tree Green

 Sometimes secrets are too big to live with. Sometimes dying is a relief.

 

Beatrice Stone came to the west coast young and delectable, with high hopes and big plans for a long career on the silver screen. It hasn’t worked out. She has a secret—she loves someone she isn’t allowed to. It’s a love that’s forbidden, and it ruins her. Pretty dreams don’t always come true, and she descends into the streets, living for the next bottle of gin. A prostitute and a thief, she gets by any way she can. She steals something without knowing how valuable it is, and the people she stole it from want it back badly enough to kill her.

 

The last man Beatrice Stone ever propositions is private eye Nate Crowe. He turns her down, but something about her touches him. He gives her five bucks and watches her walk away, not knowing that she’s going to haunt him, or that he’s going to haunt her murderers.

 

Crowe has a secret of his own. The love of his life is an eccentric artist; the beautiful, exotic Annie Kahlo, who died in a fiery crash at the end of a police chase. She’s earned a trip to the gas chamber, but nobody is looking to execute a corpse. Annie isn’t dead, though, and she’s more than a little crazy. She has a gun in her purse, a strong sense of right and wrong, and her own quick way of dealing with injustice. The worst people never see her coming.

 

Scented with cinnamon and suntan oil, soaked in neon and bourbon, Hau Tree Green is the sequel to Girls in Pink. From the sleazy beach motels on Cabrillo Boulevard to the gated, palm-shaded mansions in Montelindo, this is southern California in the winter of 1947, fresh, real and colorful as today.

The Violet Crab

Being popular isn't the same as being loved. At the exclusive Violet Crab, the club headliner is Carla Rose, a torch singer with a voice as delicious as the rest of her. There is nothing delectable about the strange, bloated mermaid who washes up under the Santa Teresa pier wearing seaweed and a red dress—and nobody wants to know about Carla's last swim. She's all alone.

The Violet Crab is the third Kahlo and Crowe mystery, following Girls in Pink and Hau Tree Green. This is southern California in the dying days of 1947--ocean breezes and palm trees, the taste of a gin fizz mixed with lavender neon. It's L.A. noir, as bright and colourful as today.

Deep Cherry Red

The South Seas Room is silver light, generous drinks, and the best band in town. At night, the fashionable crowd leaves swimming pools and beaches to haunt the end of the bar. It's a friendly place. Go there by yourself, and chances are you'll leave with company. Someone is borrowing the pretty people though, and not returning them.

Convertibles, neon signs, and Gin Rickeys—a sea of light all the way to the Pacific Ocean. This is January 1948 and Santa Teresa, California—perfume and color so real you might not want to come back.

The Orange Groove

In the tiny village of Caperucita Roja, Mexico, in a plaster-cracked alley, there’s a wall. Hidden beneath a burst of bougainvillea, it’s painted with a picture of nine running wolves. The image is faded nearly invisible, but the right words can turn the wolves loose—and once set free, they can’t be called back.

 

A thousand miles north, in Santa Teresa, California, the beach pavilion is in full swing. The oceanfront is overflowing with cold bourbon and hot neon, and the Mills Brothers are headlining at the Montelindo Hotel. The sun is gold, the swimming pools are blue—and the very worst fairy tales are coming to life.

 

This is Springtime, 1948—perfume and color so real you’ll want to stay. The wolves are running, and Annie’s back.

White Rabbit Hop

Summertime 1948, and Santa Teresa, California overflows with cold bourbon and hot neon. Billie Holiday floats from open windows, the Mills Brothers are headlining at the Montelindo Hotel, and the beach roller coaster never stops. The tourist crowd smells like sweat and suntan lotion. The sky is gold, the swimming pools are blue, but in dark alleys and behind closed doors, monsters do their worst.

Private eye Nate Crowe knows a little bit about loving when it’s too late to be loved back. He learned a long time ago that some ghosts don’t wear white, and some things can’t be fixed.

Annie Kahlo is back. She has a gun in her purse, and she’s ready to snap. White Rabbit Hop is a taxicab ride back to dancing on tiles, Roi-Tan cigars, gin on ice, east coast baseball on the radio, and mermaids with bubble hoses.

Bring a nickel with you, in case you need a payphone.

True Love and Monsters

This one is a letter, about true love and monsters, when we were kids —and now. It's the truest story I'll ever tell.

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A Blueberry Moon for Corah

Spring of 1963, Los Angeles: The Dodgers are opening another season in their brand-new park, the Beach Boys sing from open car windows, and tourists clog the beach at Santa Monica. Stop at a red light, and a movie star might cross the street in front of you. It all smells of hot dogs and smog and suntan oil.

There’s a darkening shadow over the fun. Women are being found asleep on the streets of Hollywood, and they never wake up. Morning after morning, the L.A Times headlines shout about the Sleeping Beauty murders, but the cops have no leads. A young girl named Corah Glass dreams about a monster, one she says is real. Only a boy named Bink believes her.

Fifty years later the killer is awake, and bodies again litter the sidewalks of Hollywood. Reunited after lives spent apart, Bink and Corah are forced back to their eleventh summer and the childhood nightmares they shared. Believing in kid stuff—true love and monsters—might be the only thing that saves them.