I’ve got a wonderful guest visiting today, and hope you’ll welcome Sue Coletta with her latest release Wings of Mayhem. Cool title, huh? Crack open your ereader and prepare for much more.
Sue has a wonderful blog devoted to everything crime—cold case stories, forensics research, DNA, crime scene studies and *gulp* the world of serial killers. The last one factors into Wings of Mayhem and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Before I turn things over to Sue, I invite you check out her blog Inside the Mind of a Crime Writer where you’ll find such interesting posts as Buried Alive: How to Escape Your Grave (tell me you haven’t wondered about that one) and Eyewitness Testimony—Test Your Observation Skills.
Finally, a word about Wings of Mayhem. It’s a book that sucks you in to the exclusion of all else, a pulse-pounding page turner that kept me glued. When my husband talked to me a few times as I was reading I actually flinched. Check out my complete 5-star review on Amazon and pick up your copy while you’re there. I loved the lead character, Shawnee Daniels and can’t wait for more of her adventures. Here’s Sue to tell you about Shawnee and her nerve-wracking novel . . .
Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Mae!
Wings of Mayhem is the story of Shawnee Daniels—by day, she’s a computer forensics specialist/hacker at the Revere Police Dept.; by night, she’s a cat burglar who steals from those who’ve harmed others in an attempt to right the wrong. Her latest heist uncovers more than she’d anticipated…someone’s been hiding secrets, deadly secrets, secrets worth killing over.
Shawnee Daniels has been with me for years, hanging not-so-quietly in the background, pestering me to put her through 300 pages of hell.
And so I did.
In many ways Wings of Mayhem was one of the hardest books I’ve ever written because I loaded it with symbolism and cryptic clues. It’s the type of book that you could read a second time and still not catch all the minute details. I can’t tell you what those things are without ruining the story, but I can say almost everything the reader encounters has a hidden meaning.
In the book I alternate point of views between Shawnee, Detective Levaughn Samuels, and the killer. Rather than post the book description, I’ll share an excerpt to introduce you to Shawnee Daniels. She’s a character in every sense of the word.
I ambled toward a wide, sweeping staircase, similar to the ones in old black-and-white films, and ran gloved fingers down the rod-iron railing, twirling off the end of the banister, into the main level.
First, I hit the kitchen. Whoever told the wealthy to hide their valuables in the kitchen did them a disservice. There wasn’t a thief alive who hadn’t figured that one out. I swung open the freezer door and rooted around inside.
As I jiggled a half-gallon of fudge swirl, a smile broke across my face. How stupid did he think I was? A fake ice cream container or coffee can didn’t fool anyone. Neither did stashing valuables in the ice cube trays. In which, I found two loose diamonds suspended mid-cube.
I gave the greedy bastard an “A” for ingenuity, but he’d have to step up his game to beat me.
In total, I pocketed about thirty grand worth of stuff. Most of which I’d return to the retirement fund via electronic transfer from Delsin, minus my fee. He wouldn’t understand why, of course, but since he was in a world of hurt, his lawyer would advise him to keep his mouth shut and roll with it. Which he would do. I’d seen it happen many times. His attorney would argue this was his way of making retribution because the theft was all a huge misunderstanding, or bookkeeping error. The prosecution would argue Delsin acted with intent, yada, yada, yada… same drill, different mark.
I crossed a short, hardwood-floored hall and landed in the living room. With a running leap I swan-dived onto a puckered black-leather sectional, flipped on my back, and gazed at the stars through another glass wall. Bright pinpricks of light danced across an inky-black sky.
It’s important to take a moment to appreciate God’s little gifts. Years ago, Mom drilled that nugget of wisdom home.
I crawled off the sofa, my gaze roaming around the living room. Off to the left, oak pocket doors protected either a den or office. Straps dug into the top of my shoulders, the backpack overflowing with sterling, gold, jewelry, and cash.
A solid score.
With gloved hands, I slid one of the doors aside. The moon spilled a cascading smolder through the slats of wooden blinds behind a long mahogany desk, kitty-cornered in the center of the room.
On top, sat a banker’s lamp and burgundy desk pad with calendar, where Jackie boy scrawled single digits on some of the days. I snapped a quick cell phone photo.
One never knows when information could come in handy.
To the right of the desk, a padlocked door drew my attention. In seconds, I picked the lock. A foul odor struck me in the face like the slap from a jilted lover. I cupped a hand over my mouth and nose. The stench was like… like… decay.
I swallowed hard.
Pitch-blackness blanketed the inside. I leveled my flashlight. The beam dimmed, flickered, and then died. I banged it against a flat hand.
“Not now. C’mon, stay with me.”
No dice. The damn thing refused to cooperate.
Using my cell phone, if I triggered the camera, the flash could, in theory, light my way.
It’s worth a shot.
Bright light saturated the room in stark-white for a split-second, and nearly blinded me. Multicolored spots filled my vision. I pressed the heels of my hands in my eyes and this time, I flipped the camera so the flash faced the room.
Framed portrait of a woman.
Plastic… on the walls?
Red splashes. An art studio, perhaps? I aimed toward the table.
A power tool.
Wait. If those were hedge clippers, then what was—?
Flash, flash, flash.
I cocked my head. Huh?
Flash, flash, flash, flash.
My sight narrowed on the floor beneath the table.
Flash, flash, flash, flash, flash.
I straightened, shifted in my stance.
Flash, flash, flash, flash, flash, flash.
“Can’t be.” A jolt of raw adrenaline shot through me. “What are the chances I’m in his house?”
I sprinted out the room, missed the hole for the padlock three times before re-engaging the lock and hightailed it toward the staircase, tripping over my own feet. At the top, I slid around the end of the banister, the soles of my boots screeching across the hardwood.
Keys in the front door stopped me cold— metal jingling against metal.
My gaze tunneled on the doorknob.
The door creaked open. Slow. Methodical. Deliberate.
Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters In Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is always looking for new ways to commit murder…on the page. She’s the author of Wings of Mayhem, MARRED, Crime Writer’s Research, and 60 Ways to Murder Your Characters. Her forensic article, Radiocarbon Dating and Skeletal Differences, was featured in the March 2016 issue of InSinC Quarterly. She’s published in Murder, USA, A Crime Fiction Tour of the Nation (Grab your FREE copy HERE), Out of the Gutter Flash Fiction Offensive, and in the upcoming anthology, RUN. Sue is also the founder/creator of #ACrimeChat on Twitter.