Usually I interview my guest authors, but due to circumstances beyond her control, Marva is unable to be present for this stop on her virtual blog tour. Instead she has sent her information and would like everyone to know how sorry she is she can't be here.
Marva Dasef is an author I met through the author's groups from MuseItUp Publishing. Her new mystery novel, Missing, Assumed Dead came out on July29th. Here is a little bit about her and a few excerpts from her excellent book!
ABOUT MARVA DASEF
Marva Dasef is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a fat white cat. Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry, she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more satisfying occupation. Marva has published more than thirty-five stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with her stories included in several Best of anthologies. She has several already published books and a few more scheduled for 2011 and 2012 from her publisher, MuseItUp.
When Kameron McBride receives notice she ís the last living relative of a missing man she has never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. But since she ís the only one available, she grudgingly agrees.
En route, she runs afoul of a couple of hillbillies and their pickup in an accident that doesn't seem . . . accidental. Especially when they keep showing up wherever she goes. Lucky for her, gorgeous Deputy Mitch Caldwell lends her a hand, among other things. Her suspicions increase when the probate Judge tries a little too hard to buy the dead man ís worthless property.
Working on a hunch and trying to avoid the Judge's henchmen, Kam probes deeper into the town's secrets and finds almost no one she can trust. With Mitch's help, she peels away the layers of prejudice, suicide, murder, and insanity. But someone in town doesn't like her poking around, and when they show their intentions by shooting her through the police chief ís office window, the stakes are raised. Kam must find out what really happened to her dead relative before someone in this backward little town sends her to join him.
And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.
The sky had turned a deeper blue as the sun continued its trip behind the mountain ridge. The shadows lengthened on the east side of the scraggly shrubs. The faint hum of a car engine drew her eyes southward. ìGood, I could use some directions.î But she was alone on an otherwise empty road. Maybe the approaching vehicle held a friendly soul, but it could just as well carry a serial killer.
Using her shirttail as a hot pad, she gingerly took hold of the door handle again and climbed back into the car. Goose bumps rose on her arms when the still blasting air conditioning hit them. She turned on the emergency flashers then opened the glove box, looking for something to use as a weapon. "Ah ha!" Kam pulled out a two-inch canister. "Pepper spray? Crap, just hair spray, but that shit burns eyes. Better than nothing." She tucked it between her right thigh and the console to hide it from view, her finger ready on the button.
The vehicle grew larger and revealed itself to be a Ford Expedition SUV painted Oregon green. The lights on its roof flashed blue and red for a moment then went off. "A cop. Excellent." On the other hand, sheíd heard of guys who decked out their rides to look like cop cars.
The SUV pulled up behind her and stopped. After a long pause, the door opened. A man in khaki climbed out and walked forward. He stopped behind the car and wrote something, probably the plate number, on a pad. Aviator glasses hid his eyes, but the rest of him looked pretty good. Tall. Well, maybe not too tall. Slim and dark, just how Kam liked them. Watching him approach, she wondered idly how he managed to keep the razor-sharp creases in his uniform in this heat.
When he reached her side window, he gestured for her to roll it down. Kam cracked the window a couple of inches. She noted the badge and the Smokey Bear hat. "I don't think I was speeding, Officer."
The man chuckled, showing fine smile lines at the corners of his full mouth. He had great teeth. "No, you weren't, but I wondered if you might be lost. A lot of people get themselves turned around out here."
Kam gave him a rueful grin. "Yeah, lost isn't the half of it. I'm looking for Cork Hill Road." She hoped he was the real deal, but she sure as hell wasn't opening her door. Tin badges were easy to buy on eBay.
"License and rental agreement?"
"Sure." She opened the center console and pulled out the papers with her left hand, then shoved the rental agreement through the two-inch opening. She couldn't figure out how to extract her license out of her purse without letting go of the spray.
"Why don't you just direct me to Cork Hill, or if that ís too hard, how about Rosewood."
"I'd be happy to, miss, but I really do need to see your license. Paperwork, you understand."
Kam released a deep breath breath. She stretched her arm across her body trying to reach her purse on the other seat. She grabbed the strap and pulled it toward her. It slipped out of her left hand. She automatically lifted her right to grab it. "Sh-t!"
Instantly, the officer's manner changed. The smile disappeared, and he took a step back, pulling his gun from his left-handed holster. "Drop the canister out the window," he ordered. "Do it now."
Kam squeaked and threw her hands up. The canister flipped out of her hand and flew at the windshield. It bounced back and landed in her lap. "Now what?"
"Pick it up and push it out the window. Slowly."
"You already said that." She picked up the spray with two fingers and dropped it out the window. "Hey, I don't know if you're a real policeman. Anyone can play cops and robbers."
"Please step out of the car. Use only your left hand to unlatch the door and keep your right hand where I can see it."The barrel of his pistol never wavered from her torso.
"Take it easy. I'm opening the door." He stood outside the reach of the door's swing. Kam decided she'd rather fight outside the car, than be shot inside it. She got out with her hands still raised.
"Now move to the rear of the vehicle," he ordered. When Kam obeyed, he took a step forward, never taking his eyes off her, knelt, and picked up the canister. Straightening, he glanced down at the canister then back to her. The corner of his mouth twitched as he re-holstered his pistol. "Sorry, but hairspray?" He took off the aviators and smiled.
Now here are two more excerpts as a special treat:
Salvadore didn't recognize either of the men. The driver was in his forties, the passenger younger, maybe thirty. When they opened the pickup doors and stepped out, they hitched up their gun belts in unison.
It wasn't unusual for men to wear guns in these parts, so it didn't worry him. Salvadore noted the rifle rack in the back window of the truck. Most likely hunters. Both wore their hair close-cropped and dressed in khaki camo trousers and black T-shirts. The outfits reminded him of uniforms. Tattoos covered the bigger one's arms. Salvadore stared at the spread-winged eagle on his upper arm. It seemed familiar. "Howdy, fellas. Can I help you?"
The driver looked at the other man and smirked. "Anybody up here, old man?"
"What do you mean? I'm up here."
"I meant any other people, old timer. We're lookin' for somebody. Thought he might have come up this way."
A chill crawled up Salvadore's crooked spine. "Nope. Haven't seen nobody but you two." He instantly regretted his too honest answer. Now they knew he was alone. He pointed north. "If you're wantin' the best place to hunt bighorn, you should head that way."
The driver moved closer. Salvadore took a step back.
The front yard, if the flat space in front of the house could be given that much honor, was a mass of sharp gravel. Kam was happy to have her tennies on. The bottom of her foot was still sore from her impromptu foot race along the creek.
"Let's look in the house first. Mirabel said the body was in the shed, so I'd just as soon put that off."
Kam tried the door. It swung open easily. The single room held only a cookstove on one side and a narrow cot on the other. A small table on the kitchen side had a single chair. Kam opened a wooden cupboard to find it lined with metal an icebox. Desiccated carrots and shrunken potatoes hung limply on the wire racks that served for shelving.
Kam hunted for evidence of an electrical supply. Not so much as a two-prong socket adorned the walls. Two kerosene lamps stood on either end of the room. But the shack was neat and homey. Salvadore hadn't had much, but what he had, he kept clean and tidy.
"This is awful," Kam said, picking up a tin plate from the table. Something had congealed, and petrified itself to the plate.
Mitch was on the other side of the room examining the bookshelf. He held up a photo album. "You wanted to find photos or records. Is this what you're looking for?"
"Yeah. Mom will definitely want that. Would you fetch the box off the porch and load it with everything from the shelf?" She leaned over one of the kerosene lamps. "I know a guy who collects these. I'll snag them too." As an afterthought, she added, "I hope Salvadore doesn't mind."
Kam opened the album to the first page. A stern-faced couple stared out of the sepia-tone pictures. She worked her fingernail under the edge and lifted carefully because of the brittleness. She could just make out a faint scrawling on the back. The writing was spidery and elegant, very turn of the century. The name Vasco was clear, but the rest of the notation was in a language she didn't recognize. Her brief studies on the Basques revealed their language, Euskara, was not at all like Spanish. She decided that when she got back home, she'd help her mother research this side of her family.
Mitch brought back the box with the metal cup inside. "That might be a collector's item."
"Maybe." She put her hands on her hips and stared around the room. "Damn! I feel like a thief, but it ís better for Mom to have these things. She'll cherish them rather than letting them rot out here." Kam put the album and a few other books in the box. The titles and authors were in both Spanish and Euskara. They packed everything and put the box in the back of the Expedition.
Mitch closed the hatch, put his finger under her chin and lifted her face to his. "When this is all over, we need to talk. Seriously. About us."
"What? Well, hold that thought." Kam took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Okay, let's look at the shack now."
She followed Mitch. She didn't want to admit she was afraid the two rednecks might be lurking out here. Perhaps the judge had contacted them. Maybe he knew she'd found out what happened. The whole situation tied her stomach into a knot. When they rounded the corner of the house, Kam pointed. "The shepherd's crook. I guess the judge put it there."
"Why do you think he did that?"
Kam shook her head. "Mirabel said she'd carried it back here from the porch and dropped it. He probably propped it up unconsciously. It ís practically a signpost saying "Look Here for Evidence."
Brown grass and a couple of loose tumbleweeds obscured the bottom of the wood door. Mitch shoved the dead vegetation aside with his boot and reached for the door handle. He stopped abruptly. Kam followed his gaze to the ground. A rusted axe and shovel lay on the ground almost hidden by the weeds. Kam stared at them. "Rust or blood?"
Mitch shrugged and pulled open the door to the shack. Two dusty windows, almost hidden by the shelves, lit the inside with a diffused, dim glow, just enough to make out the interior. The eight-foot square space had shelves lining every wall where Salvadore had neatly arranged a variety of tools, ropes, and cans. At the far end, a workbench jutted from the wall.
"I don't see anything suspicious. Looks neat as a pin,î Kam examined the cans and bottles. "Paint, turpentine, weed killer. Just the usual stuff people keep in a shed."
Mitch knelt down and examined the floorboards. There's a dark stain over here. It's different from the rest of the floor."
Kam bent to examine it. "The judge cleaned up, but it could be anything." In her heart, she knew it was blood. A chill raised goosebumps on her arms despite the heat. She rubbed them. "This is really creepy, Mitch. Let's go outside."
"We'll take the axe and shovel."
"Can you get them analyzed? For blood, I mean?" Kam reached down to pick up the axe, but Mitch blocked her hand.
"Let's not contaminate the evidence. I've got gloves and some plastic garbage bags in the truck."
Mitch went back to the SUV for the bags and gloves. Kam crouched in front of the shed for a moment, searching the ground for footprints or whatever. With a snort, she straightened. "Huh. That ís dumb," she muttered. After seven years, the weather would have washed away anything left out in the open.
The growl of a truck engine startled Kam. She was about to follow Mitch, who had already disappeared around the house, but stopped abruptly when a voice called, "Howdy, Deputy Caldwell. Remember me?"
I know that after reading these excerpts I want to read the rest of the book!! I have it, but I haven't read it yet.
Please leave a comment for Marva, because she is giving away free gifts to people who win the drawing on each blog. There is also a prize for the whole blog tour.
Here are the prizes from Marva's blog:
If you're the grand prize winner, you will receive:
- A copy of Missing, Assumed Dead in any ebook format you'd like.
- A print copy of any one of my books that are available in paperback (US only, non-US folks will receive an ebook package of several books. US commenters can opt for the ebook package.) See my Published Books page for a list of all the books from which the winner can select.
- A $10 gift certificate to buy any books you like from my publisher MuseItUp Publishing.
Until the next time, thank you to my new readers. I hope you get to browse the older posts. Also thank you to the people who continue to follow my meanderings!!! For anyone who has been following my husband's health, he is back in the hospital again to take care of the infection that seems to be in the location where they took his toe. He is getting IV antibiotics and since the hospital is a good one this time, he loves the food and no complaining.:) We're hoping he comes back feeling much better!!
I heard from my publisher that the publication date is September 16th. I am changing my countdown clock to reflect this change!!! Oh, and for anyone who hasn't been on Facebook and seen the new cover, I have it on the sidebar for all to see. You can't miss it!!! Don't forget to leave a comment for Marva so you can be in the drawings!!!