Author Name: Karen Pullen
Book Title: Cold Heart
Book Genre: Traditional mystery
Release Date: January 18, 2017
Synopsis: Just when the physical risks of Stella Lavender’s assignment as undercover drug agent are getting to her, she gives a hitchhiking teenager a ride to a babysitting job where they discover the father’s lifeless body. Equally horrifying: his toddler is missing. When Stella recognizes dad as a small-time drug dealer, she joins the investigation, rummaging through every strata of society in a relentless pursuit of a cold-hearted murderer who won’t stop at just one victim.
Excerpt: Upstairs, in the child’s room, I found a tiny sock in a laundry bin. Pink with white ducks on the cuff.
Merle’s leather harness was in the trunk of my car. It was his signal to go to work. I buckled it around him and led him to the back of the house, to the patio. “Check,” I whispered, waving the sock under his nose and removing the lead. Nose down, he circled the patio, ignoring the puddled blood, pausing at the foot of the stairs, then charging into the scrubby woods. I could barely keep up and called him to slow. He looked up for an instant but he was a dog on a mission, a little-pink-sock mission. He paralleled the lakeshore for a hundred yards, through brambly underbrush that scratched my legs. I could only imagine what it had done to a toddler’s tender skin.
He paused in a clearing, over what he’d found: a disposable diaper, dry, recently dropped. A diaper? Why? He waited for me, then took off again, drawn by a scent that must have been strong. I pushed away dark thoughts and trampled after him, finally catching up at the rocky lakeshore where he trotted, nose down, one way, then another, then back. He’d lost the scent.
Shit. Shit shit shit.
A breeze rippled the lake’s surface, disturbing the reflection of whipped-cream clouds and bluer than blue sky. Blue, despondent, wretched, downcast—pick any or all, that’s how I felt.
Paige Mercer was probably in the lake.
About the author: Karen Pullen escaped a cubicle to seek her fortune as an innkeeper and fiction writer. Cold Heart is the second in the Stella Lavender series; Cold Feet was published in 2013, also by Five Star. She’s published several dozen short stories that will be collected into Restless Dreams by GusGus Press in September. She owns a B&B in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Updates on Karen and her writing can be found on her website, www.karenpullen.com.