I love a good psychological thriller and after reading Tami Hoag’s Cold Cold Heart, I was hooked. Cold Cold Heart picks up where The 9th Girl (a Kovac/Liska detective novel) left off. Hoag’s previous book followed Detectives Kovac and Liska as they hunted serial killer Doc Holiday. Unlike the previous detective novels, however, Cold Cold Heart follows the physical and psychological recovery and struggles of Dana Nolan. Nolan survived her ordeal with Doc Holiday, killing him and ending his reign of terror. And while its true that Doc Holiday won’t have any future victims, his torment of Dana Nolan continues. Dana’s lost large portions of her memory, including those of her torture, though she suffers from severe PTSD and physical scars that serve as a daily reminder of her ordeal. Unable to return to the life she’d created for herself, she must return to her childhood home and try to find a way to begin again.
But Dana’s homecoming is anything but peaceful. The mysterious disappearance of her high school friend becomes the center of her new world and leads into dangerous territory. Unable to rely on her memory, Dana tries to piece together the circumstances of her friends’ final days, a task that will put her sanity and even her life in grave danger.
After finishing this book, I read a number of others that Hoag had written, most of which were more traditional crime/detective novels than Cold Cold Heart. I love her characters and I love that she writes in series, allowing me to revisit my favorite characters in various stages of their lives. In particular, her Kovac/Liska novels are full of murder, intrigue and lots of great forensic particulars which I find irresistible.
The mark was in her sights. I was the mark. As I strolled by her kiosk in the mall, she took two easy steps in my direction, arms spread as if to embrace me, her long lost friend. With one hand she guided me toward the kiosk and with the other hand she slipped a small packet into mine. “This is a free sample of our latest body cleansing system” she said. Her dark eyes and exotic accent caressed my senses as she drew me in. Predator and prey. I was her prey.
An hour and a half later, I would begin to dissect what had just happened to me. As I walked toward the mall exit, arms laden with unintended purchases of miracle creams and cleansers. I frowned. Was I really that easy? I was the mark. And my beautiful new best friend Julie saw me coming a mile away. She recognized my mom dress hidden under a gray hoodie, the tired eyes, the hair haphazardly thrown into an amateurish ponytail. She knew immediately that I would be hers.
Julie (my new best friend, Julie) pulled up a chair and asked me to unload my burdens so she could pamper me. She asked me about my life. Was I married? Did I have any kids? She listened to my story about job hunting and motherhood with a sympathetic ear. She knew exactly what I needed, and with stolen glances around her, she promised me gifts that her manager would kill her for giving me. But Julie liked me. I was special.
As Julie cleansed, exfoliated, and educated me, her hand squeezing my shoulder occasionally as if I was the best thing that had come into her life, I was completely aware that I was being hustled. Julie was a professional. She built rapport, gaining my trust, relating to my problems, pointing out similarities in our lives. She pointed out how important skin care really is, how ironic it is that women spend so much on clothes and shoes but will not invest in products meant to care for their faces, the one thing that could not be replaced. I nodded in agreement as Julie illustrated her point by drawing attention to her flawless skin and her everyday clothes. But as I gave her a once over, I couldn’t help but notice the MK emblazoned on her belt.
“Isn’t your belt Michael Kors?” I asked, sheepishly, realizing that I’d caught her as she shifted nervously from one foot to the other. “It was a gift” she said and quickly moved the topic back to me and my needs.
More than an hour into our blossoming relationship, I started to really understand the masterful way in which Julie employed every sales tactic known to man, both subtle and grotesquely blatant, to lure me in. She made me offers. She had me peak over her shoulder at the product website rather than saying the prices of the products out loud, commiserating with me over the price (and extolling the value) of these magical products. She dodged my questions about her life, bringing the story always back to me and my need to be a woman first, then a mother, then a wife. It all sounded really good and despite my miniscule budget and my complete awareness that I was being worked, I fell for it. Twice.
Even after my first reluctant purchase, Julie kept right after me. She had done a product demonstration on one side of my face but as I started to leave, she pulled me back. She couldn’t possibly let me go without evening out the skin on the other side of my face. That second treatment stayed on my face for more than 30 minutes as Julie expertly explored the bounds of my budget. I was trapped. Only after my second even more reluctant purchase, did she acquiesce and begin wiping the mask off my cheek. In my 90-minute sojourn, Julie had sold me two products and “given” me another seven. She made me promise her that I’d come back in four weeks and give her a big hug, because we were friends.
Twenty-fours later, I’m still scratching my head. Beautiful Julie, with her horribly obvious persuasion tactics, had succeeded in her mission. And despite any misgivings I might have over the experience, the shiny jars of miracle cream occupy a place of honor on my countertop.
Felicity stretched and yawned in dramatic fashion. She was reluctant to get out of bed but, as always, she’d woken up starving. Today was the day. The big day. The day she would finally get rid of the other woman. She smiled, self satisfied, and stared at her handsome man sleeping just a few inches away. Today is the day, she thought to herself and she calmly, casually walked out of the bedroom.
After breakfast, she went about her basic routine, pausing now and again to relax before she put her plan into motion. If all went according to plan, the day would explode into a whirlwind of drama and she would find herself alone with her darling love again. Like the old days.
It had been a quiet day. Her beloved had stretched out on the couch for a mid-afternoon nap and Felicity walked slowly upstairs, careful not to attract any unnecessary attention to herself. She stopped to gaze out the window. The other woman, oblivious, unaware that any moment now her life would be torn in two, sat watching television just a few feet away. For a moment, Felicity hesitated. Was it really necessary? After all, there were times when she genuinely liked her rival, enjoyed her presence, even sought her out. But she shook her head and strengthened her resolve. She made a small sound, just enough to get the other woman’s attention.
“Do you want to go on the deck?” the woman said, her attention finally pulled away from the ridiculous images on her screen. She’d been watching some Christmas musical and grinning like an idiot.
Felicity nodded and followed the other woman onto the deck. She was restless and paced as the woman watched her, bemused. It’s time, she thought.
And without another thought, she threw herself over the rail. She felt a rush of fear, but as she fell, she glimpsed the other woman, a look of pure horror spread across her face and Felicity’s fear was replaced with sheer exhilaration. She was pretty sure she would survive the fall but was pleasantly surprised to find that she’d landed without injury. Slowly, cautiously, she made her way to the side of the house. Behind her, she heard voices filled with alarm.
The air outside was crisp and welcoming. Felicity felt a freedom that she’d rarely experienced. Her life would be different if she could only make it away, to safety. She crept along the side of the house and was quite sure she’d made it when a pair of warm hands wrapped around her middle.
“Bad kitty” said the soothing voice of her beloved. And he carried her inside, past the sobbing woman on the steps. Her plan was thwarted. As soon as he put Felicity down, he rushed to find out how SHE was doing. The concern on his face made it perfectly clear. Felicity groaned. SHE was here to stay.
I recently finished reading the second book in Michael McGarrity's trilogy which details the history of the Kerney family. McGarrity is well-known for his crime novels featuring Kevin Kerney as the central character. These new books explore Kerney's ancestry.
As a native of the Tularosa Basin, I thoroughly enjoy McGarrity's vivid descriptions of region and its people. As I was reading Backlands, I was transported to the dusty barren landscapes and I could visualize the gorgeous New Mexico sunsets. McGarrity has done his research. He skillfully and convincingly intertwines the history and culture of the area into the lives of his fictional characters. For those who love the Southwest, McGarrity's books offers beautiful imagery, along with geographic and historic accuracy.
Michael McGarrity creates characters that are believable and relatable, even when they are despicable. While the Kerney men are central to the story, his depictions of the women in the Kerney world as strong and vital figures is unwavering. A girl can wrap her imagination around these smart and capable ranching women, lending balance to a story that might otherwise be historically and culturally male dominant.
I would strongly recommend Michael McGarrity's historical fiction trilogy. Pick up a copy of Hard Country before Backlands and then we'll all wait with baited breath till the final piece of the chronicle is released next year!
On October 1, I crossed an item off my bucket list. Since moving to Boulder in June, I have been literally counting down the days til the CU Law School hosted their annual Stevens lecture. The lecture features of a noted jurist and this year, it's fourth year, they hosted their fourth Supreme Court justice. Oh to have been around to hear Justices Stevens, Ginsberg and O'Connor in previous years! This year's speaker was Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, the longest seated member of the current Court. The complete Supreme Court nerd in me got their an hour early and managed to snag 5th row seats. The 2000 person auditorium was packed with lawyers, law students and judges from around the state of Colorado.
Now, I should probably note here that Scalia is not one of my favorite legal minds. He is undoubtedly brilliant, charismatic and witty, but we occupy positions on very different sides of the political spectrum and in studying Court cases from the past 30 years, I can tell you that I have disagreed with most of his opinions. But despite those feelings, Scalia is a living part of history - without a doubt one of the most influential men in America.
The Justice spoke for about half and hour and then spent another half an hour answering questions from the audience. He is quick on his feet, answering pointed questions with ease and dodging like a true legal pro. The topic of his talk was originalism, go figure. He's witty. The audience, myself included, laughed right along as he called many of us idiots for believing in the living Constitution. And to hear him speak, you understand immediately why Scalia has had his successful career. Listening to him, its easy to see that he truly believes what he says.
I gained an appreciation for Justice Scalia's point of view. Hearing a person speak directly to what they believe is always a moving experience (in my humble opinion). However, I still cannot agree with the Justice's position. I believe that our Framers, having engaged in the restructuring of our government, knew what they were doing in leaving the wording of the Constitution vague. They left room for interpretation to ensure that the law of the land would be flexible enough to withstand the evolution of our society and changes in the social climate. In learning more about Scalia's life and upbringing, you get a glimpse of some of the non-legal and non-rational things that may affect his jurisprudence. For instance, his strict Catholic upbringing and his father's career as a textualist cannot be overstated as impacting Scalia's point of view. Reading Scalia: A Court of One for a very thorough and revealing look at Scalia's life, both personal and professional.
Despite my feelings about Scalia's work as a noted jurist, I was honored to hear him speak and as a parting thought, I'd like to say this: making an effort to understand the other point of view is sometimes difficult and grueling work, but it is a necessary element of any true democratic system. Reflecting honestly about our own views and being open to new information and perspectives is what being an American is all about.
Happy Scalia Day!
I'm back on Examiner.com writing about community issues in Alamogordo and the surrounding area. Come follow me!
As part of my continued effort to evolve professionally and academically, I am going to start offering consulting services. I've got a lot of experience in a lot of different areas that could really benefit businesses and organizations here. And while my priority is always SANE, this will allow me to explore my interests and hone my skills in politics, the law, business and other favorite past-times. Contact me if you think my expertise might fit your needs.
More information about consulting services can be found HERE.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is fast approaching, but there's no need to wait til April to start work on ending sexual violence in the community. Please read the call to action below and share with everyone you know. Together, we can make this community a safer and healthier place!
Holy moly....I was elected President of the Otero County Health Council today. Planning......
...Also, I completed my first exam, did media work for the Quality of Life tax issue on the ballot, worked on programs for the Friends of the Library and still managed to find time to actually work :)
I am reading Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists & Other Sex Offenders which is a memoir and cautionary tale told by Anna Salter PhD. This book will give you nightmares, but it is a fascinating study on sex offenders and how they think. Dr. Salter has compiled anecdotal evidence, as well as direct quotes from incarcerated sex offenders, that illustrates how alarmingly methodical and cunning offenders can be and how even the most expert professionals can be fooled time and time again. This book has a particular focus on sex offenders who pray on children and while it probably will make most parents a little bit paranoid, I think its worth a read-through and some frank community dialogues. Law enforcement professionals, prison staff and attorneys / legal staff would also benefit greatly from reading this book.
Note: This book is disturbing. It WILL affect you. I am not going to downplay this because I know that some people will have a hard time coping with the material. That said, I think that the way we, as a community, end sexual violence is to start an open dialogue even when the topics are uncomfortable. And I believe wholeheartedly that you can't read this book without talking about it.
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.
Be My Guest!
#WhatsYourStory? Are you an author? I'd love to hear your story and so would my readers. Email me for more information.