’Tis the Season… There Just Had to Be Murder

“Outstanding plot, unique twists and turns, and writing style is superb. This story is very suspenseful and riveting. Highly recommend for crime and mystery fans.”
–Book Reviewer

I love Christmas! I always have. There seems to be something magical about the season as family and friends come together, decorations are put up, lights are strung and turned on, and if you’re up north like me, you get the white stuff. Please don’t flog me, but I rather like snow, and it’s not because I play outside in it. I find it peaceful to watch coming down from inside my warm house. (I really love it when I have a glass of red wine in hand and a roast dinner cooking in the oven.)

When it came time to write the second book in the Detective Madison Knight series, I thought what if I put a dark shadow over such a festive time of the year. This led me to set Justified at Christmastime. In fact, the murder takes place on Christmas Eve and the victim, Claire Reeves, is a woman who had it all going for her: looks, sex appeal, and business savvy. But it seems one of those things may have caught up with her. As Detective Madison and her partner dig into the victim’s life they keep finding more people who would have motive to kill her. With more suspects than available man-hours to question them, it’s obvious this Christmas, murder hasn’t taken a holiday…

Wishing you a festive investigation,
Carolyn Arnold

Excerpt from Chapter 5 of Justified:

Madison’s eyes felt like they had been welded shut by the sandman. She heard a faint banging, which at first she dismissed as a dream, but unfortunately it was persistent.

What time was it anyhow? She managed to read the clock through foggy slits. 7:02.

The knocking intensified. Her visitor wasn’t going to leave. Her initial reaction was to throw something hard at the wall and protest the awakening, but she didn’t have enough energy for that.

“What?” she yelled, certain her neighbors would pound on the wall to protest the noise, but not really caring if they did. The walls were paper-thin in this place, and usually it didn’t take much for them to get excited, but this morning their apartment seemed quiet. Maybe they had drunk their Christmas cheer and passed out, unconscious to the world. Or maybe they had taken her last warning seriously when at one in the morning she had donned a housecoat, fuzzy slippers, and her Glock and paid them a visit. Not necessarily something a good cop would be proud of, but she was just human after all.

Her visitor wasn’t letting up.

“I’m coming. Shut up!” She couldn’t help it. Patience was never her strong suit, and at this point, on a limited amount of sleep, she had even less of it.

She swung the door open and faced Terry. He had a couple cloth grocery bags in one hand and a small, decorated tree under his other arm.

“What are you doing—”

“Nice pj’s.”

She looked down at herself and was thankful for full coverage—a pair of blue track pants and a Stiles PD sweatshirt.

“And here I would have taken you for a white lace woman.”

“As if.” She stepped back from the door to let him in.

“You don’t have one, do you?” He glanced around the apartment.

“Have one what?”

“Didn’t think so.” He met eyes with her and smiled. “A tree, Maddy. Everyone needs one.”

She found herself somewhat touched by the gesture but didn’t allow him to see it. “Put it where you like,” she said.

Terry set the prelit tree down and plugged it in. It had small white lights tastefully dispersed. She fought a smile so it wouldn’t give her away.

“It’s early. You do know that,” she said.

Terry didn’t respond to her but went into her kitchen and made himself at home. He set the bags he’d brought with him on the counter and started pulling items out of them: a Tupperware container filled with what looked like batter, one filled with blueberry sauce, another filled with strawberry sauce, and a bottle of genuine maple syrup. He then folded the bags, signaling the end of their contents.

“What are you doing now?”

“You’re going to repeat yourself all day like a parrot?”

A cliché. Terry’s vocabulary was poisoned with them. “Until you answer the question.”

He laughed.

“Is this some joke?”

“Absolutely not.” He swung open the cabinet doors, working his way around the compact space in seconds. “Guess I should have brought it with me—”

“What are you looking for? Terry, it’s seven in the morning!”

“A nonstick fry pan. I’m going to cook you up some superb pancakes. With Grant pancakes, the secret’s in the batter. We know how to make them light and fluffy—”

“Stop there.” The sincere happiness he seemed to be experiencing in this moment was breaking through her grumpy exterior. “Light and fluffy?”

“The best.” He took out a flipper and turned on a burner.

“But why? And why so early?” She brushed past him, opened the bottom drawer on the stove, and put a frying pan on the burner.

“Because we’ve got to get to work—”

“It’s Christmas day.”

“Doesn’t mean we don’t work.”

Okay, so he had a point. The strange part was he was the one pushing work this morning, and she was the one being tempted to take personal time.


 

This Christmas, murder doesn’t take a holiday…

Detective Madison Knight should have ignored her phone when it rang on Christmas Eve. Now she is spending her holiday dealing with her least favorite thing: a bloody murder scene.

Claire Reeves had it all—looks, sex appeal, and business savvy. But it seems that one of those things has caught up with her. Now, Madison and her partner are digging through the victim’s personal life, but the more they dig, the more people they find who had motive to kill her.

All the while, Madison is battling with a touch of the holiday blues, and the man she’s dating isn’t making things any easier. With the status of their relationship up in the air, it’s affecting her focus on the investigation. And if that wasn’t enough, tack on being the only female detective in the Major Crimes division and reporting to a sergeant who thinks less of her because she is a woman. Not that he’d say so in as many words.

But despite the odds, Madison is determined to prove herself by finding Claire’s killer and, more importantly, making sure justice is served.

Justified is available in e-book, paperback, hardcover.
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