Death is one click away when a string of murders rocks a small Colorado town in the first mesmerizing novel in M. E. Browning’s A Jo Wyatt Mystery series.
Echo Valley, Colorado, is a place where the natural beauty of a stunning river valley meets a budding hipster urbanity. But when an internet stalker is revealed to be a cold-blooded killer in real life the peaceful community is rocked to its core.
It should have been an open-and-shut case: the suicide of Tye Horton, the designer of a cutting-edge video game. But Detective Jo Wyatt is immediately suspicious of Quinn Kirkwood, who reported the death. When Quinn reveals an internet stalker is terrorizing her, Jo is skeptical. Doubts aside, she delves into the claim and uncovers a link that ties Quinn to a small group of beta-testers who had worked with Horton. When a second member of the group dies in a car accident, Jo’s investigation leads her to the father of a young man who had killed himself a year earlier. But there’s more to this case than a suicide, and as Jo unearths the layers, a more sinister pattern begins to emerge–one driven by desperation, shame, and a single-minded drive for revenge.
As Jo closes in, she edges ever closer to the shattering truth–and a deadly showdown that will put her to the ultimate test.
Genre: Mystery (Police Procedural)
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: October 6th 2020
Number of Pages: 296
ISBN: 1643855352 (ISBN13: 9781643855356)
Series: A Jo Wyatt Mystery, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Penguin Random House | Goodreads
M.E. BROWNING served twenty-two years in law enforcement and retired as a captain before turning to a life of crime fiction. Writing as Micki Browning, she penned the Agatha-nominated and award-winning Mer Cavallo mysteries, and her short stories and nonfiction have appeared in anthologies, mystery and diving magazines, and textbooks. As M.E. Browning, she recently began a new series of Jo Wyatt mysteries with Shadow Ridge (October 2020).
Micki is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime—where she served as a former president of the Guppy Chapter. A professional divemaster, she resides in Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment she uses for “research.”
Q&A with M.E. Browning
What was the inspiration for this book?
I had read an article that delved into the misogyny women faced in the gaming industry and the chilling effect it had on women at all levels—from those who merely wanted to enjoy playing games to those who wanted to design them. As a writer, I saw an opportunity to parallel a female gamer’s issues with a female officer’s battle against sexism in the ranks of her department. The story took off from there.
What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career?
Balancing the myriad tasks writers must do that don’t involve actual writing. Social media is a wonderful way to interact with readers and I’ve discovered I enjoy creating graphics to post—but it is easy to get distracted and fall down the rabbit hole.
What do you absolutely need while writing?
Tea: hot, bracing, and plain. I have to admit to being a bit of a snob about it. I brew loose-leaf. My favorite purveyor is Harney & Sons—I love their Paris blend, Victorian London Fog, and spicy Holiday blend. If I can find it, I’ll splurge on Mariage Frères. Once I have tea in hand, I’ll reach for my mechanical pencil and pad, and scratch out my day’s objective. Only then will I open up Scrivener on my computer and get to work.
Do you adhere to a strict routine when writing or write when the ideas are flowing?
I do something to further my career every day, but it may not be actual writing. I start by reviewing my prior day’s words which inevitably leads to a bit of revision—not much, but enough to drop me back into my story world. Once I’ve been writing for a bit, I’ll switch gears and go for a walk. That break is often all that’s needed to come up with the solution to a problem that looked insurmountable inside my office. In the afternoon, I’ll tackle the business side of the profession.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Detective Jo Wyatt. She’s a second-generation cop in a small southwestern Colorado city. I had a reader describe her as “Smart enough to know her limitations, confident enough to trust her gut, and determined enough to unravel the threads in any case.” She makes mistakes, but owns them. By the time the last page is read, I hope readers believe she’s exactly who they’d want on their doorstep if they ever needed to call for help.
Quinn, however, was the most fun to write—she doesn’t have any filters and I could push her boundaries in ways I couldn’t with Jo.
Who is your least favorite character from your book and why?
That’s a difficult question! I think a writer has to have an affinity for all her characters or they’ll fall flat on the page. But on a would-I-enjoy-sharing-a cup-of-tea-with-them scale, Professor Lucas is at the bottom of the list.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book?
Jo muses about cycling along a particular mountain road that was based on one of my favorite training rides when I lived in Durango, Colorado. Cycling for 20-30 miles through the changing colors of aspens in autumn was almost enough to distracted me from the burn in my legs and the fire in my lungs from the climb.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you! I believe a book isn’t truly a book until it’s been read. As the author, I can only control half the equation. Once the edits are finished, my job is done. It’s readers who bring my characters back to life.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I dedicated 22 years of my life to law enforcement and during that time I was a field training officer, academy trainer, hostage negotiator, and coordinated the Citizens Police Academy where I met a quiet, witty woman named Sue Grafton. By education, I’m a medieval historian, and I play the Celtic harp…badly.
What’s next that we can look forward to?
Thanks for asking! I’m currently hard at work on the next Jo Wyatt adventure. Jo is called out to investigate a missing child, but as she digs into the girl’s fractured family life, Jo unearths a trove of secrets and half-lies that paints a different picture of the two parents she’s known since high school.
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Enter To Win!!:
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for M.E. Browning. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and there will be 2 winners of one (1) physical copy of Shadow Ridge by M.E. Browning (US and Canada ONLY). The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.