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’s 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:
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Doing new stuff is always exciting.
Granted, as the author of three mystery series, I have enjoyed diving into my series characters, exploring their psyches, and watching them grow. It’s very much like being a parent. Since I average three mysteries a year, I considered my plate full with a new release for each series every year.
Truthfully, I was not looking for inspiration for a new series when Chris Matheson and the Geezer Squad came crashing into my life.
One evening I was looking for a good mystery to watch on Netflix when I happened upon a true crime series entitled The Keepers, which explored the unsolved 1969 murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik in Baltimore, Maryland. As fascinating as this series is (and I do recommend it to any mystery lover), as a writer, I was drawn to the “detectives” investigating this cold case. They were former students of the victim. Now, decades later, retired, they were each using their individual skills to solve this case that keeps them up at night.
I couldn’t get the concept out of my mind. The writer in me twisted and turned the idea until the Geezer Squad—a group of law enforcement retirees who work those cold cases that keep them up at night. Surprisingly, I discovered during my research that some police departments actually have Geezer Squads working on contract—retirees tasked with working cold cases.
You will notice that I have named my new series The Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. A retired FBI agent, my protagonist is a young retiree. Chris is in his mid-forties and the single father of three little girls. His wife had been killed in a terrorist attack in Nice, France. After the sudden death of his father, a retired state police captain, Chris retires from the FBI and returns home to the family farm to live with his mother, a library director.
It is at his mother’s insistence that Chris agrees to attend a book club meeting at the library with Elliott, one of his late father’s friends. Since the club is made up of law enforcement retirees, his mother believes he would make some new friends.
As you can see from this excerpt from Ice, she had no idea!
Chris watched Helen hurry out into the cold. A gust of wind ruffled her hair while she yanked open the door and climbed into the car.
“Why didn’t you ask her out?” Jacqui called over to break the memories of adolescent romance flowing through Chris’s mind.
“Why is it that every time a man admires a hot woman, people think they should immediately slip between the sheets?” Elliott asked.
Meanwhile, Bruce was pouring red wine into a goblet. His muscular frame and sun kissed face indicated long days working in his vineyard. Peering at Chris with green eyes, he held out the glass to him. “Taste and tell me what you think, Christopher.”
While Chris tested the wine, Jacqui waved her arm to indicate the work room behind Doris’s office. “I didn’t ask why he didn’t take her into the back room and hook up with her here and now. I asked why he didn’t ask her out. I was thinking about lunch. Your mind went straight to sex.”
Disregarding his colleagues’ conversation, Bruce stared at Chris. “Well?”
“It’s good.” He picked up a cracker which he covered with a slice of cheese from the tray.
“Maybe he didn’t want to be pushy.” Elliott handed a paper plate to Chris. “It isn’t like he doesn’t know where to find her. Her daughter works here.”
Chris set his copy of the book down on the table to fill his plate with Swedish meatballs, and cheese and crackers.
“Good?” Bruce’s expression was similar to that of a man who had just lost his job, home, and family. “He said it was… good?”
Cursing under her breath, Jacqui struggled in setting up the computer and monitor for the remote hook up. Ray snapped instructions to her from a speaker phone.
Sitting down to eat, Chris noticed that he was the only one who had the copy of the book that Elliott had said they were covering that evening. Everyone else had folders and binders.
Must be some heavy duty reading group.
“Screw it, Jacqui!” Ray said. “Where’s Francine?”
“I’m right here, Ray.” A short woman dressed in a thick winter coat with a furry hat pulled down over her ears ran in from the side entrance. She dumped a book bag thick with folders and notebooks into a chair. “Sorry I’m late!”
With a sigh of relief, Jacqui backed away from the equipment. She moved on to fill a plate with cheese and crackers.
“The internet went out at home just as I was leaving,” — Francine checked the settings and pressed buttons on the keyboard — “and my grandson promptly became mildly hysterical. Luckily, all I had to do was reboot the system.”
Jacqui took a sip of white wine from a goblet. With a grin, she held up the glass in a toast. “This Sauvignon Blanc is lovely, Bruce. Delicate but strong. Its sweet taste compliments the hearty boldness of the cheese. Yet, it’s not a wimpy wine either.”
“So you don’t think it’s good?” Bruce shot a glance in Chris’s direction.
Elliott took the seat between Chris and the vineyard owner. “Now, Bruce, not all of us are wine enthusiasts.”
“I said it was good,” Chris said, “which is a compliment.”
“Yeah,” Jacqui said, “he could have said it was bad.”
The face of a man with a gray beard and thick eyeglasses filled the computer monitor.
“Hey, Ray!” the members of the book group called out almost in unison.
“Nice to see you guys, too.” Ray saluted them. Abruptly, his smile dropped. “Who’s the kid?”
Francine spun around to notice Chris on the other side of the table. A broad grin crossed her wide face. “Well, it’s about time we got a touch of class.”
“Kind of young if you ask me,” Ray said with a grumble.
“This is Kirk’s boy, Chris,” Elliott said. “He’s retired FBI.”
“He’s forty-five,” Jacqui said.
“Forty-six,” Chris corrected her.
“Still not even fifty.”
“I’ve got underwear older than he is,” Ray said.
“And he doesn’t know anything about wine,” Bruce said.
“I said it was good. Look, I had no idea this book club was so selective about new members.” Chris started to stand up.
With a hand on his shoulder, Francine, who had rushed to move her seat next to his, shoved him back into his chair. “Elliott says he’s retired FBI. That’s good enough for me.” She leaned over to whisper in his ear. “I’ll do the talking, sweet cheeks. You just keep sitting there looking handsome.” With a salacious grin, she admired his attractive features and let out a moan of pleasure.
“Chris is Kirk’s son,” Elliott said. “Doris suggested that I invite him to—”
“That explains everything,” Jacqui said with a heavy sigh.
“What explains everything?” Chris asked.
“Doris,” Jacqui said. “Elliott can’t say no to Doris Matheson.”
“I can so say no to her,” Elliott said. “As a matter of a fact I said no to her just today.”
“In reference to what?” Francine asked.
“She asked if I’d got a haircut.” Elliott raised his voice to be heard over their laughter. “But that’s not important. Point is, Kirk was our founder, which means Chris here has a right to be a member of our group. Our primary rule for membership is retired law enforcement. Chris is retired FBI. If that doesn’t allow him in, then what does?”
“His retirement is basically only a technicality,” Jacqui said. “He’s too young. Some agency or contractor will make him an offer and he’ll be back out there talking about the Geezer Squad.”
“I’ve said nothing to him about the Geezer Squad,” Elliott said with a crooked grin.
“What’s the Geezer Squad?” Chris asked.
“Hey!” Bruce sat up straight in his seat. “What’s the number one rule about the Geezer Squad?”
“Never talk about the Geezer Squad,” the group, including Ray on the monitor, said in unison.
In silence, Chris peered at each of them. He pushed his paper plate, still half-filled with food, to the center of the table. “Since you aren’t interested in any new members—”
Francine shoved him back down into his seat. “Nowhere in our bylaws does it state a minimum age requirement to be eligible for the Geezer Squad.”
“When did we write up bylaws,” Ray asked, “and why didn’t I get a copy of them?”
“We don’t have any bylaws,” Bruce said. “but if we did, we’d insist that our members learn something about wine.”
“Since we have no bylaws,” Francine said, “that means we have no rules saying that this hunk of beefcake here is too young to belong to the Geezer Squad.”
“And since his father was our founder, and he is retired,” Elliott said, “then I vote that we let him in.”
“Don’t I have a say in this?” Chris stood up. “Maybe I don’t want to belong to a group that calls itself the Geezer Squad. What it is you guys do anyway?” He held up the book. “I suspect it has nothing to do with reading.”
“You better hope we decide to let you stay, Christopher.” Bruce poured the last of the pinot noir into a goblet and held it up to the light. “At this point, you’ve seen too much. So if you don’t join our group, then we’re gonna have to kill you.”
“Are you serious?”
“No, he’s not,” Jacqui said with a laugh.
“Yes, I am,” Bruce said. “It’s in our bylaws.”
“You don’t have any bylaws,” Chris said.
“Well, if we did have bylaws then that rule would be in them right before the paragraph about knowing the proper way to drink wine.”
“When did we say that group rejects would have to be killed?” Elliott took a sip from the goblet.
“Hey, I’ve never been a reject in my life,” Chris said, “and I’m not going to start now.”
“Don’t you remember back when we came up with our group name? Kirk said that it was imperative that no one know about us, especially Doris, on account that she’d kill—”
“Shh!” Elliott hissed at Bruce, who, seeing Chris’s questioning expression, drained his glass.
Chris looked at each person around the table. “You’re all retired law enforcement. You’re not reading books. You’re working—what? Are you private investigators?”
“Kind of,” Jacqui said.
Elliott turned in his seat to face Chris. “Your father never wanted to retire. After he got shot, he was itching to get back to work, but he loved your mother more than anything. She became a nervous wreck worrying about losing him.” He shrugged his shoulders. “He retired to make her happy, but he was miserable. He told me that he felt like an old fire horse locked in the barn unable to run when the sirens went off.”
“That was when he started adopting retired race horses,” Chris recalled.
“I think your mother saw how unhappy he was,” Elliott said, “but she didn’t want him to be out on the streets.”
“The worst thing isn’t so much not being out there,” Ray said, “as much as it is not being allowed to use your mind.”
“Seeing that,” Elliott said, “your mother suggested that your dad join her book club. That’s where I met him.”
“The book club that you two got kicked out of,” Chris said.
“So we started our own,” Elliott said.
“But it wasn’t a book club.”
“We had every intention of it being a book club, specializing in mysteries and suspense and thriller books. With us all being retired law enforcement folks, we’d be free to go off on our tangents—the type that got us kicked out of your mom’s group.”
“Man!” Francine said. “We ripped those books to shreds.”
“The book club lasted two meetings,” Ray said.
“Then what happened?” Chris asked.
“The book we had read that month struck me too close to home,” Ray said. “The plot was too similar to—well.”
“It was the case that kept Ray up at night,” Jacqui said.
“You know the type of case we’re talking about, don’t you, sweet cheeks?” Francine said.
Thinking about his conversation earlier that day with his daughter, Chris nodded his head.
“So,” Elliott said, “we decided to look into Ray’s case. Reopen it. Each of us using our own separate area of expertise to investigate it.”
“Ray invented cybersecurity at Homeland Security,” Jacqui said. “I’m a retired medical examiner from Pennsylvania.”
“And I’m a retired investigative journalist from the Associated Press,” Francine said.
“Suddenly, this group of geezers came to life,” Elliott said. “We each had something to contribute to thaw out the cold cases that kept us up at night. That’s when we became the Geezer Squad.”
Ice (The Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries Book 1) is scheduled for release Feb 26. It is now available for preorder! To enter the drawing for an ebook advance reading copy of Ice by Lauren Carr, just leave a comment below naming your favorite books that revolve around cold case mysteries. The winning name will be drawn on Monday evening, February 5th.