Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!
Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:
Gnarly’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GnarlyofMacFaradayMysteries
Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:
Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:
Today, July 26, marks the release of The Last Thing She Said, my third Geezer Squad mystery. Actually, the proper name of this series is The Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. I call the series that because Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, is the protagonist for the series. But, in reality—
It’s all about the Geezers!
Working under the guise of a book club, the Geezer Squad is a group of retired law enforcement officials who investigate those cold cases that keep them up at night.
The Geezer Squad’s number one rule: “Never talk about the Geezer Squad.”
This collection of feisty crime fighters must work in secret because they’re scared of their families, who don’t want them chasing murderers.
Twenty years ago, if you had told me that my favorite protagonists would be a group of spunky senior citizens, I would have laughed.
In a culture where marketing targets late teens and early twenties, why would an author dare to make her primary characters a group of retirees? Like, who is going to be interested in that book series?
Now, I’m twenty years older, and so are the rest of my peers.
The baby boomers may be older, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot to offer. I’m not just saying that. The Geezer Squad evolved from my research into cold case units that have been popping up across the country.
Numerous police departments, in an effort to solve those cases that have gone cold, have hired retired detectives on contract. They have found that older detectives not only have the advantage of experience, but they are not so reliant on modern day technology to solve crimes. Also, with a unit devoted to solving old cases, they can work without the urgency that comes from fresh cases that are still hot.
One police department actually named their cold case unit “The Geezer Squad.”
Thus, that became the name of Chris Matheson’s book club.
After the sudden death of his wife, Chris returns home with his three young daughters. His widowed mother, Doris helps raise his daughters while he cares for the family farm. In ICE, the first book in the Chris Matheson Cold Case mystery series, Doris, the director of the local library, convinces Chris to join a book club consisting of law enforcement retirees. She has no idea that the Geezer Squad doesn’t read books.
At first, the Geezer Squad refuses to accept Chris because at forty-seven years old, they consider him to be too young. As a matter of fact, once he discovers their secret, they threaten to kill him to keep him quiet. However, since his father was a founding member of the group, they decide to let him in and they nickname him “the Kid.”
I guess being a baby boomer, I am not the only mystery lover who has come to appreciate the advantages of experience over youth. ICE has been a consistent best-seller, as well as Winter Frost.
The third installment in this hit series, The Last Thing She Said finds Chris investigating the kidnapping and murder case of a legendary mystery author who walked out of a hotel. Coincidentally, her husband disappeared from another hotel less than an hour later.
Forty years later, the case has become ice cold—until the sudden death of a family friend, Shannon Blakeley. In this excerpt, Helen Clarke, a lieutenant with the West Virginia State Police, gives Chris a book and a letter that Shannon has left for him—two items that prove to be the flame needed to heat up this cold case.
The Last Thing She Said
Chris finished brushing down Traveler and led him out to the pasture. Doris and Helen waited for the girls to leave the barn to talk to him when he returned.
“What did I do now?” Chris asked while coaxing Sterling to wake up with a treat from a jar in the feed room. “Besides mentioning barrel racing to Sierra?”
“It could have been worse,” Doris said. “He could have mentioned trick riding.”
“She’s got a point.” Chris tossed Sterling a second treat, which he caught in mid-air.
Helen walked across the floor to hold out the evidence bag to him as he stepped out of the feed room. “We found this on Shannon’s desk. It’s addressed to you.”
“Did you ask Shannon to order a book for you?” Doris asked.
Shaking his head, Chris opened the bag and removed the hardback. The Last Thing She Said. “You have your own copy of this book. Autographed and everything. Why would I need to order it?” He opened it to reveal the front page, which was signed.
He read the inscription:
To My Dear Christopher,
A Mystery for You.
From Your Friend & a Fellow Mystery Lover,
Chris’s brows furrowed. “This is a joke.” He read the writing underneath the signature. It was that day’s date. He held out the book to Helen. “Did you see this?”
As he asked, a white envelope dropped to the floor.
“Yes, we did.” Helen knelt to pick up the envelope and held it out to him. “We also saw this. That’s why we’re here. It’s addressed to you and sealed. You have to open it.”
“Are you thinking Shannon’s death was foul play?” Chris asked.
“Chris, you left so fast with the girls, I didn’t get to tell you,” Doris said. “Shannon was acting weird this morning. She told me twice that she missed Billy and wanted to be with him. I think she committed suicide.”
“We found no signs of foul play,” Helen said. “No obvious evidence of her taking an overdose or poison. Our forensics people have gathered up her teacup and things in her office, the library’s kitchen, and coffee station. We found this book and envelope addressed to—”
“Why would Shannon leave a suicide note addressed to me? Mom was her best friend.” Chris shook the book in his hand. “This book is crazy. Shannon signed it. I recognize her handwriting. And she dated it today. Mercedes Livingston was murdered almost forty years ago. That’s just plain insane.”
He went to Doris. “Mom, you said she was talking weird this morning.”
“Yes, she was. She was talking about when we’d first met, but what she was saying was nothing like when we’d met. She said I was wearing my lilac pantsuit. I remember that pantsuit. I only wore it for special occasions. Well, it was not a special occasion when I’d met her. It was her first day of training at the library. It was August and we were in the middle of a heat wave. I don’t remember what I was wearing, but I know it would not have been that pantsuit. It would have been a sleeveless top, and light slacks or a skirt.”
“She must have been suffering from dementia,” Chris said.
“If she thought she was Mercedes Livingston then why was she saying that she wanted to be with Billy?” Doris asked. “The two don’t go together. She would have been wanting to be with George Livingston, who Shannon had never met.”
“People with dementia don’t always make sense,” Chris said. “If people with dementia made sense, then there would be no problem with them.”
“Chris, read the letter,” Helen said. “We need to know if it’s a suicide note.”
Sitting in front of him, Sterling uttered a bark as if to back up her order.
“Okay.” Chris dropped back against a stool next to the barn door. He slipped a finger under the flap and ripped it open. The envelope contained a handwritten letter that was several pages long. Chris recognized Shannon Blakeley’s elegant cursive script. “This isn’t a suicide note. It’s a novel.”
“Shannon was a born writer,” Doris said. “She had an exceptional sense of observation and a way with words. If I’d told her once, I’d told her a million times that if she’d set her mind to it, she could have been a great novelist.” She let out a mournful sigh. “She’d tell me that all she wanted was to be Dr. William Blakeley’s wife and the mother of his children. I guess after their kids grew up and left home and he died, she lost all purpose for living.”
“If she committed suicide, we need to figure out how.” Helen turned to watch Chris, whose brow furrowed as he rose from the stool and crossed the floor.
“You never heard of dying from a broken heart?” Doris asked.
“Only in the movies.” Helen stepped over to where Chris was slowly shaking his head as he turned to the next page in the letter. “What’d she tell you?”
Chris’s mouth hung open. Slowly, he shook his head. “It’s … it’s an unbelievable mystery.”
“What kind of mystery?” Doris asked.
“Remember the Mercedes Livingston kidnapping?” Chris asked.
“Of course,” Doris said with a scoff. “Shannon and I were talking about that just this morning. That’s why I brought my book home. She told me it wasn’t safe at the library.”
“Everyone knows about the Mercedes Livingston case,” Helen said. “It happened at Hill House like ten minutes from here.”
“Her husband was kidnapped, too,” Chris said.
“What does the Livingston case have to do with Shannon Blakeley’s suicide?” Helen asked.
“I attended that conference,” Doris said. “Suddenly, out of the blue, Mercedes’s agent had called the organizers for what was usually a small mystery writers conference held at Hill House. Mercedes Livingston offered to appear and asked for nothing. Of course, the conference organizers jumped at the offer. Some folks in the know speculated that Robin Spencer, who was also appearing, had talked her into it. Robin Spencer was truly the grande dame of mystery writing and I’d heard rumors that she had taken Mercedes under her wing.”
“I bumped into Robin Spencer at that conference,” Chris said.
“Quite literally,” Doris said with a frown. “Practically knocked her over.”
“She gave us an advanced copy of her next book,” Chris said.
“Can we get back to Shannon’s suicide novel?” Helen tapped the letter in Chris’s hand.
“Mercedes Livingston’s literary agent stated Mercedes had left the hotel to go meet her husband for cocktails,” Doris said. “He was speaking at a business networking conference going on at the Bavarian Inn that same weekend. She didn’t show up later to accept an award after the banquet. Meanwhile, in Shepherdstown, George had told some friends that he was going out for dinner with his wife. When he didn’t return for that evening’s presentation following their banquet, friends and associates went looking. Mercedes’s rental car was gone from Hill House. George’s was still in Shepherdstown. The police were called in.”
“Mercedes’s father got a ransom demand for half a million dollars,” Helen said with a nod of her head. “Horace Billingsley paid the ransom, but they never let either of them go. George Livingston’s skeletal remains were discovered buried in some thick woods in Kearneysville a decade later when the highway crews were building the bypass to Martinsburg. No one knows what became of Mercedes.”
Chris held up the letter. “Until now.”
Praise for the Geezer Squad!
“I’m in love with the Geezer Squad!” 5-Star Review at Buried Under Books
“For the whodunit mystery buff who loves ever-increasing suspense and danger, Lauren Carr’s newest series offers up a big dose of both. Murder and mayhem seem to be Chris’s new companions after returning home following the loss of both his wife and his father.” 5-Star Review at Blooming with Books
“Lauren Carr’s books are never boring, that’s for sure. They entertain, give us a good mystery to dig into, keep the reader guessing, give us a few good laughs and make us eager for the next book. Warning: Lauren Carr’s series are addictive, so be ready to read more than just one book!” – Laura Fabiani, Library of Clean Reads
“I’m working on the greatest mystery ever,” was the last thing noted mystery novelist Mercedes Livingston said to seven-year-old Chris Matheson before walking out of Hill House Hotel never to be seen again.
For decades, the writer’s fate remains a puzzling mystery until an autographed book puts Chris Matheson on the trail of a cunning killer. With the help of the Geezer Squad, a team of retired investigators, Chris puts a flame to this cold case to uncover what had really happened that night Mercedes Livingston walked out of Hill House Hotel. Watch out! The clues are getting hot!