Author Name: J. R. Lindermuth
Book Title: Shares The Darkness
Book Genre: Mystery/romantic suspense
Release Date: Sept. 13, 2016
Synopsis: Jan Kepler and Swatara Creek Police Officer Flora Vastine were neighbors and schoolmates, but never close.
When Jan, a school teacher, avid birder and niece of a fellow officer, goes missing and is found dead in a nearby tract of woods Flora finds herself thrust into the middle of an examination of the other woman’s life, as she searches for clues.
As usual, the police have more than one crime to deal with. There’s illegal timbering and a series of vehicle thefts taking up their time. And there are other issues to deal with. Flora is concerned there’s some shakiness in her relationship with Cpl. Harry Minnich who seems to be making a lot of secretive phone calls.
Still Flora maintains focus on the murder. Despite evidence implicating other suspects, the odd behavior of another former classmate rouses Flora’s suspicion. Flora’s probing opens personal wounds as she observes the cost of obsessive love and tracks down the killer.
Excerpt: [Chapter 1]
“She didn’t come home last night.”
Flora Vastine hesitated. She knew Mrs. Kepler as the type of overly protective mother who wouldn’t take kindly to a suggestion her daughter might be sleeping around. “Maybe she stayed with a friend,” Flora said without specifying gender.
Mrs. Kepler shook her head. “She didn’t have an overnight bag or even a toothbrush. Besides, I’m sure Jan would have told me if she was going to do that.”
The woman had shown up just as Flora was preparing to leave for her shift. Mrs. Kepler had come down the street in her nightgown and robe, fuzzy slippers on her feet, sans makeup and without even having run a brush through her sleep-knotted gray hair. Obviously she was distraught and Flora had no choice but to invite her in. Besides, as a police officer she had a responsibility to those who sought her assistance–no matter how tenuous the situation might seem.
Flora’s father was still at the table, having a second cup of coffee. He looked up in surprise as the two women entered the kitchen. “Jan didn’t come home last night. Mrs. Kepler is worried,” Flora quickly explained.
“Oh,” her father said. “Of course you’re worried. What can we do to help? Have a seat. Would you like some coffee, Sylvia?”
“No. Thank you, but no,” Mrs. Kepler said, sliding onto a chair next to him. “My stomach is acidic enough. Coffee would definitely not help.”
Sneaking a quick glance at the clock, Flora saw she was going to be late. “Sorry,” she said, drawing out her mobile, “I’ve got to call in.”
“Oh, I don’t want you to be late.”
“It’s okay. I just have to let them know.” She made her call, told dispatch she was delayed and would explain on arrival.
Mrs. Kepler drew a hand across her face. “I hope I’m not getting you in trouble, Flora.”
Flora leaned on a chair on the opposite side of the table. “Not a problem. Do you know where Jan was going when she left the house yesterday?” Jan Kepler was a high school biology teacher who still lived with her widowed mother. When not working, she helped her friend Peg Peabody conduct birding tours spring and fall. As far as Flora knew, neither woman had a boyfriend.
“She had her binoculars and her bag. She didn’t say, but it was obvious she was going birding.”
“With Miss Peabody?”
“No. I called Peg last night. She said she hadn’t seen Jan since Tuesday.”
“Does she often go by herself?” Bill Vastine asked.
“Oh, yes. When she isn’t helping Peg she loves to go out alone. She says it’s better that way. No crowds of people making noise and scaring off the birds before you can find them.”
“Dangerous, isn’t it? What if she fell or something?”
“I’ve said the same thing myself. That’s why I got so worried when she didn’t come home.”
Some other dangers came to mind for Flora, but she didn’t mention them. The woman was agitated enough. “Did she have her phone?”