Monday, February 15, 2010

ExcerpTuesday - Sandra Parshall

Mystery writer Sandra Parshall joins me today with an exerpt of Broken Places, her newest.

Broken Places
Third in the Rachel Goddard series
by Sandra Parshall
Poisoned Pen Press
February 2010

Summer is deadly in the mountains of Virginia. When a husband and wife, veterans of the 1960s War on Poverty, are murdered in Mason County, Deputy Sheriff Tom Bridger and veterinarian Rachel Goddard are swept into a maelstrom of lies that stretches far into the past and threatens their own future together. An old friend of Rachel’s, a famous cartoonist with a past of his own, is the prime suspect. The dead couple’s daughter is Tom’s old girlfriend, less concerned with solving her parents’ murders than with forcing Rachel’s secrets into the spotlight. As the killer targets Rachel, she and Tom must decide whether they can still trust each other–or anyone else around them.

Sandra Parshall is a native southerner who now lives in the Washington, DC area. She is also the author of The Heat of the Moon, which won an Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and Disturbing the Dead.

Broken Places will be available in simultaneous hardcover, trade paperback, e-book and audio editions and can be purchased directly from the publisher or through any bookseller that carries mysteries.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Broken Places by Sandra Parshall

“You okay?” Holly crouched beside Rachel, her eyes wide with alarm. “Did somebody shoot at you?”

“Get back in the car,” Rachel said. “Call Tom.”

“You call him.” Holly stood. “Come on. We need to leave here right now.”

Rachel scanned the woods as she rose, trying to pick out the light blue of Taylor’s shirt in the forest of green and brown. He could be lying on the ground, bleeding to death. “I think somebody shot Cam Taylor,” she said. “I have to see if I can help him.”

“No!” Holly gripped Rachel’s arm with both hands and tried to pull her away. “You’re not goin’ in there with somebody that’s got a gun!”

Rachel twisted her arm free. “Whoever did it is gone.”

“You don’t know that. You can’t be—”

“Go back to the car. Call Tom. Right now!”

Rachel set off into the woods.

The tree canopy closed over her, shutting out the sun. She stuffed her sunglasses into her shirt pocket and pushed on. Slapping aside drooping vines, stumbling over fallen tree branches, she felt like a walking target.
He’s gone. The shooter’s gone.
Please, God, let him be gone.

Why hadn’t she listened to Holly? She didn’t even like Cam Taylor. It was nuts to risk her safety for him.

He’s hurt, he needs me.

She found Taylor on the ground under an oak tree. He’d collapsed at an odd angle, coming to rest with his right leg twisted under him, his left arm flung over his face. Blood soaked the front of his shirt.
Feeling exposed and vulnerable, Rachel pivoted in a circle, searching for movement. She saw no one lurking in the woods, no sign anyone else had been there except for a path of trampled vegetation leading away .
Rachel bent over Taylor, but the stench of blood and feces and urine made her gag and draw back. Flies already buzzed over the body, drawn by the odors. Rachel waved them away. They didn’t disperse, but rose to circle above Cam Taylor, waiting, like tiny planes in a holding pattern.
If there was any chance he was alive, that she could help him, she had to try. Holding her breath, Rachel knelt beside him. Pressing her fingertips to one side of his neck, then the other, she searched for a pulse.

He felt warm to her touch, as warm as life, and as still as death.

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