I can’t believe this is actually happening. I know I’ve posted about it before, but I still feel a rush every time I think about this chapter of my career coming to a close.
My Deviant Behaviors trilogy has been years in the making. I’ve put a lot of myself and my time into it, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons from it. And the time has finally come to give you the next – and last – novel in the trilogy.
My One Book
I had no idea Deviant Behaviors would be a trilogy when I started writing Maladaptation all those years ago. I thought it was a standalone book about two women who met under strained circumstances and started a relationship.
Boy, was I wrong.
A Trilogy is Born
When I realized there was more of the story to tell, and that the main character of the series wasn’t who I thought it was, I knew I had at least a sequel on my hands. That’s when I wrote Cluster B.
Then, I wanted to know more about the characters of this world I had created, so I wrote the stories that became A World of Deviant Behaviors #1 and #2, short fiction collections each centered on one of the characters.
And out of all of that, Eager Observer came to life almost fully formed. I knew what it was about. I knew how it had to end. And, as much as it pained me to admit, I knew it would be the last book in the series.
The End is What You Make of It
Two other books in the same universe may or may not ever be released.
I wrote the untitled first before I ever wrote Maladaptation, and though it’s a great glimpse into the psyche of Detective Harry Thresher, I don’t think the writing is what it should be.
The second I wrote somewhere between Maladaptation and Eager Observer. It’s called A History of Silence, and though I bled into that story, there’s always been something wrong with it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
For now, let’s just call the series done. I may release more short stories later. I may not. The takeaway? Eager Observer is out. It’s the conclusion for these characters. If you want to know what happened to Harry, Busy, Ruby, and the rest, you’ll have to read it to find out.
She’s got her badge back, but Detective Harry Thresher is still spiraling out of control.
Booze, women, and working outside of the bounds of the law are still her forte, even if her new partner, rookie detective Erin Garcia, doesn’t like it.
They’re on the case of the man the press has dubbed the Initial Killer. He’s one of the smartest – or luckiest – killers Harry has ever pursued, and every lead leaves her cold. But when she gets on the trail of crime blogger Millie Hamlin, Harry knows it’s the trail she has to follow, no matter who doesn’t like it.
The Initial Killer has a message for all of them. Will Harry solve the case before he kills someone closer to home?
To celebrate, I’m giving a copy of Eager Observer to three members of my Constant Readers group on October 15th.
Want a taste before you buy?
Here’s an excerpt from Eager Observer:
The building the girl lived in was somewhere between nice and dingy, like the one Harry had moved into only recently, and Harry wondered how a girl who listed her occupation as “blogger” could afford the same kind of digs as her. Then she chided herself. Of course she could; she probably made more money than the two detectives coming up to question her put together.
“I’d like to take the lead on this one, if you don’t mind,” Garcia said as they stopped in front of the blogger’s door.
Harry wanted to disagree, then thought better of it. She took a step back, and Garcia flashed her a rare smile.
Garcia’s knock was exactly the kind one would expect from a cop: harsh, brusque, registering like gunfire in the silence. Harry winced. She normally didn’t like to set people up to be on guard, but she had relinquished this one to her partner. Hopefully she wouldn’t regret it.
A few moments passed before the door opened on a chain lock and a woman peeked out at them. “Can I help you?”
Garcia was ready with her badge and what Harry was coming to think of as her ‘cop voice’. “My name is Detective Garcia, and this is Detective Thresher.”
The door closed, the chain lock came off, and the door opened wide. “Please, come in.”
Garcia glanced back at Harry before she walked in. Harry followed, not sure why the woman was so eager to get them inside, but wanting to let the situation play out.
“Have a seat. Would you like something to drink?” the blogger asked on the way to the kitchen. “Coffee?”
“Is it made?” Harry asked. Garcia frowned at her, but Harry ignored it.
“Yes, and it’s fresh.”
“I’ll take a cup. Black,” Harry said.
Garcia’s cheek and jaw tightened, then relaxed. The blogger peeked her head around the kitchen doorway. “And you, Detective?”
“Do you have bottled water?”
The blogger gave her an appraising look, then smiled. “I do. Coming right up. Please, make yourselves at home.”
Harry sat and Garcia followed, then leaned in close. “What do you think she’s playing at?” she whispered.
Harry smirked. “I think she’s going for polite.”
Garcia leaned back and folded her arms over her chest, obviously not going for polite herself, and they waited a minute before the woman came back in the room with two cups of coffee and a bottle of water. She handed the bottle over first, then Harry’s coffee, before she sat down with her own mug, which she promptly put on the coffee table.
“I guess you’re here about the Initial Killer.”
Harry winced. She hated the name the press had given the guy. It only gave him more credence, which might make him feel like he was expected to keep killing. But she kept it to herself.
“We are,” Garcia said coolly. She pulled out her notebook and pen. “Your blog has a lot of information about the perpetrator of these crimes -”
“I call him IK,” the blogger interrupted.
Garcia ground her teeth. “Yes, IK. You have a lot of information about our case, some of which has not been released to the press, and we were wondering how you got it.”
The woman looked from Garcia to Harry with a smirk. “You know I can’t tell you that.”
“Pardon?” Garcia asked.
After a sip of coffee, the woman placed her mug back on the table, and gestured at Harry’s. “It’s cool enough to drink without burning your tongue now.”
Harry nodded at her, picked up her cup, and took a sip. The brew was delicious, better than she had ever made at home, and she thought to ask about the brand, but she knew Garcia would be pissed. After all, she had already screwed up this interview. The woman had thrown her off immediately, and she hadn’t yet regained her footing.
“What do you mean?” Garcia asked.
Harry watched the blogger as she studied Garcia over the rim of her coffee mug. Her hazel eyes were amused, and the set of her face was calm. She was obviously accustomed to dealing with bluster. Her hair was brown, cut to her shoulders and across her forehead in bangs, with a slight curl at the ends. She had narrow shoulders, wide hips, and dressed somewhere between conservative and casual.
She looked a hell of a lot like their serial killer’s type.
“I received the information from a confidential source.” She smiled at Garcia, unperturbed.
“And would you want to give the source’s contact information to me?”
The woman’s eyes sparkled and she couldn’t hide her grin as it widened. Harry was reminded of a house cat toying with an insect that had made its way into her territory. “You know I can’t reveal that, and I don’t have to. Reporter’s privilege.”
“And, for the record, my name is Millie Hamlin. Since you didn’t ask.”
Harry wasn’t sure if Garcia’s mouth would drop open or not. She glanced at her and was proud to see that it did not. In fact, it was ground farther closed than ever, and for a moment, Harry wondered about the state of her teeth. Her own bruxism had cost her a lot of money in dental work, and she couldn’t imagine Garcia would escape the same for much longer.
“I would love to be able to help you, detectives, but I’m not sure that I can say much more.”
When Garcia didn’t keep talking, only stared at the woman like she wanted to rip her limb from limb, Harry took another sip of her coffee and put the mug down on the coffee table with a light thump. The blogger looked her way and she smiled.
“I guess what we’re wondering is if you know more than you’ve posted on your blog already. Any information you can give us from your source might help us catch this guy.”
Millie nodded and took a drink from her coffee, then settled the mug on her knees, her hands wrapped tightly around it as if she were cold.
“Is there anything you can tell us without revealing your source?” Harry asked.
“I can tell you with certainty that he isn’t finished. And the letters he’s carving into his victims aren’t initials, despite the moniker; they’re a message.”
Garcia had her pad and pen in hand again and was taking notes. She kept her mouth clamped shut, and Harry took it as a sign that she would be finishing the interview out alone.
“Do you know what the message is?” Harry asked. She smiled the crooked smile she knew worked on a lot of women with a soft spot for tomboys.
Millie grinned. She knew what game Harry was playing, but she was willing to play along; Harry could see it in the glint of her eye.
“I haven’t figured out the message yet, and my source doesn’t have anything to say about the subject. What we do know is that it’s a message he doesn’t intend to leave unfinished.”
Harry let Garcia finish scribbling on her pad in her tidy scrawl before she went on. “Could you wager a guess at the message?”
Millie let out a giggle and put her mug on the table.
“What?” Harry asked.
Millie fanned her reddening face and waved the question away. “I’m sorry. Your question caught me as funny. The message is going to be the same as it always is, like IK is going to be the same they always are.”
“White, 20-40, middle-class, Everyman, troubled relationship with his parents,” Harry supplied.
The blogger pointed to Harry with one hand and laid a finger on her nose with the other.
Harry couldn’t help but grin. In different circumstances, she might have had fun with this woman.
“And the message?” she asked.
Millie sighed. “Women are mean, especially his mommy, and we all deserve to be punished because we don’t drop on our knees with our legs spread as soon as he walks into a room. Or maybe because we do; depends on how popular he is with the ladies.”
Harry saw Garcia’s eyes widen out of the corner of her eye, but she kept writing. When she had finished, Harry stood up, pulled a card out of her pocket, and tucked it under her empty coffee cup.
“If I learn something new or think of something I forgot,” Millie said.
Harry made the same gesture – on the nose – then waited for Garcia to stand up, too. “Thank you for the coffee, Miss Hamlin.”
The blogger stood, came around the table, and clasped Harry’s hand firmly. She rubbed a fingertip over Harry’s wrist. “It’s Millie. And you’re welcome to come by any time for more. It’s a secret recipe of mine.”
“Best coffee I’ve had in a while,” Harry said with a tight smile. Then she slowly pulled her hand away. “Have a nice day, Millie.”
“Same to you, detectives.”
You can grab Eager Observer now on any major retailer’s website.