As a child, Lauren Carr’s mother often read her Perry Mason stories for her bedtime story time. This ritual made Ms. Carr fall in love with mysteries and become a life long fan of the genre.
It was with this deep-seated love of mystery, that led Lauren Carr to become an author and weave her own edge-of-your-seat mystery tales. She is the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which take place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in the series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers alike. Miss Carr’s fifth mystery, Shades of Murder has also been receiving enormously positive and glowing reviews since its release.
Lauren Carr’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, has recently been released (August 22, 2012). Dead on Ice introduces a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren Carr is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover, and layout designer, and marketing agent for many talented, independent authors. This upcoming spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.
Ms. Carr is also a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She is thrilled to pass along what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
Lauren Carr resides on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, with her husband, son and two dogs.
Readers can learn more about Lauren Carr and her work by visiting the following links:
Could you please tell us a bit about your book? The story? The characters?
Dead on Ice is the first installment of my new series (Lovers in Crime) featuring Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton and Pennsylvania State Police homicide detective Cameron Gates.
Spunky Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star’s roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too—because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.
How did you come up with the title and how much say did you have on the cover design?
I wrote the first draft of Dead on Ice back in 2007, years before “hoarders” became a household word. A friend was telling me about a house that she had moved into that was filled with junk. One closet that she cleaned out was filled from floor to ceiling with those tubes that toilet paper is wrapped around. So, I started thinking, “Gee, what if they found a dead body under all that junk?” That year, I wrote the rough draft for Dead on Ice, even though I had no title for it. But was I unhappy with how it came out. So I filed it away in a folder on my laptop and showed it to no one.
This spring, after I published Shades of Murder, the third Mac Faraday book, where I introduced the characters Cameron Gates and Joshua Thornton, I was struck with the solution to my problem with Dead on Ice. The same day Shades of Murder was released, I started on the next draft for Dead on Ice and wrote non-stop for one whole night until I was done. I even had the title. The problem with the first draft was the original main characters. Once I developed the “Lovers in Crime”, Dead on Ice came completely together.
Since I publish my own books, then I had complete say on the cover, which was designed by Todd Aune of Projetoonline, who did a fabulous job of capturing the tone of the book in one image.
What are some of your favorite ways to promote your work?
This way! Call me lazy, but my favorite way of promoting my books is here, online, in blogs and websites. On the Internet, I feel thinner, more vibrant, and I never have a bad hair day.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I start my day at six o’clock with a morning dog, Ziggy. After letting my Australian shepherd outside to secure the perimeter of squirrels and the airspace of low flying birds and planes, I drink a pot of coffee and drag my son out of bed to send him off to school. By then, I’m awake.
During the week, I spend my days working on other authors’ books, which I publish through my company, Acorn Book Services. In the evenings and on the weekends, I work on my own books.
What are some ways that you like to relax?
Walking. We live on a mountain with a lot of trees, far away from town. So it is very quiet. All you can hear are the birds and rustle of squirrels in the trees. When I get tensed up, or stuck on a story line, I’ll take a walk and usually will have a break through by the time I’m back.
What author/s do you think are overlooked in the writing/reading world today?
There are so many. Since I work with undiscovered authors in my publishing business, I meet many. Most of them are a great talent, but since their books don’t fit into any one box that publishers had created, they find it difficult to break through.
Cindy McDonald writes the “Unbridle Series”. She writes a very entertaining romantic, suspense series about the West family. The backdrop is horse racing. Her newest book, Dangerous Deception is out now.
H.L. Grandin is an eloquent novelist in historical fiction. His book, The Legend of Tyoga Weathersby is the first in a series about a young man whose gift that makes him one with nature makes him a legend in the Appalachian Mountains during colonial times.
Thomas L. Trumble’s new book, Time to Go Home is a memorable novel about honor and camaraderie in Vietnam during the height of the war. This book was released on October 1.
What author would you most like to meet and why?
Alfred Hitchcock. He was a legend in his own time with his movies and television show. He was brilliant at putting the twist, often ironic, at the end of the story. I know there were a lot of masters of suspense and mystery, but Alfred Hitchcock possessed the ability to laugh at himself, as well as making others laugh in his movies. It’s something that I aspire to put in my writing.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with readers?
The fourth Mac Faraday mystery on Deep Creek Lake, Blast From The Past is coming this spring! Mac finds himself up to his eyeballs with mobsters and federal agents.
After an attempted hit ends badly with two of his men dead, newly released mobster Tommy Cruze decides to come to Spencer, Maryland, to personally supervise his orders to take out the witness responsible for putting him behind bars—Archie Monday!
To protect his lady love, Mac Faraday has to put all of his resources together in a battle against one of the most dangerous leaders in organized crime.
What is something about yourself that would come as a surprise to many people?
My name is Lauren Carr and I’m a choc-aholic.
Do you have a favorite line or excerpt that you would like to share from your book?
“Unbelievable.” Joshua stepped back from the open freezer to let the Pennsylvania State Police medical examiner get to work.
Tad peered over the medical examiner’s shoulder to get a closer look at the body. Since Hookstown was out of his jurisdiction, he wasn’t allowed to touch. He could only watch another medical examiner work what was her crime scene.
It was killing him. This wasn’t his case. However, Albert Gordon was family.
Professionally and personally, he wanted to dive in to clear his cousin’s name.
Out of professional courtesy, Cameron had permitted them to ride along to the scene. In exchange, they would be expected to allow her the same leeway if she needed help in their jurisdiction.
The dented and charred ice box was one of the few things that had survived the explosion intact. The chief forensics officer told Cameron that it had been found tucked away in a room separate from the one in which the bomb had been placed. Even though the upper floors had collapsed on top of it, the drywall and mounds of junk surrounding it had protected the freezer from the explosion and fire.
Upon its discovery, the investigators pulled it out from the corner and opened it. The smell of death burst forth like evil escaping from Pandora’s box. After regaining their senses, they peered inside to find a body encased in a stark white tomb.
She looked like she had crawled in and curled up to take a nap. Her makeup was still evident on her leathered flesh. They could see the blue of her eye shadow and thick false eyelashes. Her hair was draped over her face and shoulders. Its platinum color created the illusion of a mermaid captured in a fisherman’s icy net.
Her jeans and matching vest were faded and discolored to the point of only holding a hint of their original hue, but intact. To fit into the tight confines of the freezer, she was curled up into the fetal position with her high-heeled sandals still on her feet. Her denim hat rested on her knees.
Cameron was gesturing at the now empty corner of the hole in the ground that had once been Albert’s basement. “Was this thing plugged in when the bomb went off?” She couldn’t see any sign of an electrical outlet where they had found the appliance.
With a shake of his head, the officer said, “There was no outlet near it. We found the cord wrapped up and tucked in behind the freezer. You can see the thing is ancient. I doubt if it works.”
Observing the wrecked condition of the appliance, Cameron said, “Certainly not now.”
The photo recordings of the scene completed, the medical examiner started her physical on-scene examination of the body.
Tad watched her. “Any ID on her?”
“Maybe.” She reached down along the wall of the freezer and removed a blue canvas purse covered with beads. She handed it to the detective. “Let’s hope we get lucky, and she has the name of her killer in there.” The medical examiner continued to search the body.
Having no convenient place in the burnt-out basement to spread out the purse’s contents, Cameron climbed out of the foundation to empty the purse on the hood of her cruiser. With her gloved fingers, she picked through the assortment of what appeared to be the usual feminine fare, except for a few additional surprises. There was a pack of Camel cigarettes, a bag of marijuana with a couple of hand-rolled cigarettes, a wallet, and various cosmetics.
With gloved hands, Joshua picked up the pack of cigarettes. “We can trace the lot number on this pack of cigarettes to find out when they were made to give us an approximate time period of when she was killed.”
“I think you meant me. This isn’t your case, Mr. Thornton. So put that back.”
Cameron was already checking out the driver’s license in the wallet.
Joshua placed the cigarettes back in the pile.
“Got a name, Cam?” Tad asked.
“California driver’s license. Expiration date: June 1985. Name: Cherry Pickens,” she answered.
Tad responded to the announcement with a wicked laugh.
“What’s so funny, Doc?” she asked.
Tad regarded the two of them. “We just solved a famous unsolved mystery.”
“Famous unsolved mystery?” Joshua parroted.
Tad gestured to the freezer. “Take a look, ladies and gentlemen. You are looking at Cherry Pickens, a genuine film legend.”
“Cherry Pickens,” Cameron countered. “Never heard of her.”
“You wouldn’t unless you were into porn,” Tad said.
“I didn’t know you were into porn,” Joshua said with a frown.
“I’m not into porn,” Tad replied, “but I am into rock and roll. Back in the early eighties, Cherry Pickens was one of the brightest stars of artistic films.” He held up his fingers in the form of quotation marks when he used the word “artistic”.
“Sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” Joshua said.
Tad nodded his head in agreement. “Drugs are a big part of the scene in pornography, and Cherry Pickens was in it up to her pretty blue eyeballs.” He added, “But she wasn’t just a hooker who did it on film. They have film awards, and she won a couple. In some circles, she was considered a true actress with the talent to break through into legitimate movies.”
Cameron brought them back to the present. “How did she end up in a freezer, in a farmhouse, in Hookstown, Pennsylvania?”
“That’s for you to find out,” Tad told her.
“You said she’d won acting awards,” Cameron reminded him. “Are you saying she was actually famous?”
“She slept with all the big hard core rock musicians, most of whom are now has-beens, the ones who didn’t OD or kill themselves that is,” Tad said. “Humphrey Phoenix, the owner of Player magazine, discovered her when she was dancing at one of his sex parties—”
“Now I heard of him,” Cameron said.
“Player magazine was about as hard core porn as you can get,” Tad said. “Humphrey Phoenix was twenty years older than Cherry. He spent a lot of money on her. Then he found out that she was also fooling around with a pop singer while Phoenix was paying for her breast implants and nose job. The FBI believed Phoenix made an example of her by making her disappear.”
“Hookstown is a long way from Hollywood,” Joshua said. “What would a missing porn star be doing here in Cousin Albert’s basement?”
They stared at Tad who had no answer.
“If what you’re saying is true,” Cameron said, “this could be a mob hit, which would make this the fed’s turf.” She sucked in her breath. She really didn’t want the FBI butting their way into one of her cases.
“Albert had no ties to any of that,” Tad told them. “Until the forensics pathologist gets a go at her, we can’t determine the time of death. She could have played it smart and managed to get away from the mob only to get killed over something else years afterwards.”
“I don’t believe this,” Joshua muttered.
Stretching her back, which had become sore from bending over into the freezer, the medical examiner said, “Right now, the way she’s positioned in this freezer, I can’t find the cause of death. I need to do a full examination at the state lab.”
Joshua went over to peer into the freezer. “Can you find any evidence of sexual assault?”
The examiner poked at the clothes on the body. “Her clothes don’t seem to be disturbed.”
Joshua studied the cap, which contained silk lining. “Looks expensive.”
“They are.” With the point of her pen, the medical examiner opened the jean vest. “These jeans have a designer label. This lady had the best in clothes.”
“But what was she doing dying here?” Joshua asked.
“And in your cousin’s basement?” Cameron asked. “And was she the reason his house was blown sky high?”
“I think it’s safe to assume she was,” Joshua said. “As big as that blast was, whoever it was clearly wanted everything destroyed.”
“How ironic that the only thing not destroyed was this freezer,” the detective said.
“I can’t imagine Albert not noticing that freezer in his basement,” said Tad.
“Come on,” she countered. “You saw his basement. The only reason this freezer survived was because it was surrounded by a whole bunch of stuff that cushioned the impact. Maybe it was behind all that stuff in order to hide it from Albert. How long had he been living here?”
“As long as I can remember,” Joshua answered. “I can see it in the headlines now.”
In a gentle tone, Cameron told them, “At some point, we will have to release the name of the victim. When we do that, your cousin will be declared a closet sex fiend. Suggestions will be made that we dig up the floor with speculation that there are a dozen other women buried under the concrete.”
“Albert was no sex fiend,” Tad said.
Joshua agreed with his cousin. “We’ve known Albert all our lives. He didn’t even date after his wife died.”
“Publicly,” Cameron said. “That’s what they thought about John Wayne Gacy, and he butchered over thirty-three boys in his house, and the neighbors had no idea.”
“Albert was no killer,” Tad said. “He went to our church.”
“The BTK killer was an elder in his church,” Cameron said in a steady tone.
Unable to find words to argue in the face of her facts, Tad sighed. “Josh, you knew Albert. Tell her. He wasn’t a killer.”
“No, he wasn’t.” Joshua placed his hands on her shoulders. “Help us.”
“How?” She held her breath.
“Keep this under wraps as long as you can.”
“That goes without saying.”
In a soft voice, he said, “Give us as much time and information as you can, to find out who did this.”
“You find out who did this?” she replied. “You keep forgetting that this is my case. You two shouldn’t even be here.”
Joshua corrected himself. “Then you find out who did this. But, in the meantime, you keep this under wraps.”
“Are you talking cover-up?” She shook her head. “I can’t go—”
“Professional courtesy?” Joshua said. “We’ll pay you back when your cases come over to our side.”
She glanced over at Tad. “When I need info from forensics in West-by-God-Virginia …”
“It’s yours.” He nodded his head.
Joshua cocked his head at her. “What do you say?”
The corner of her lip curled as it always did when a wicked thought crossed her mind. “Come over to my place later, and we’ll talk about it,” she said in a low, sultry voice.Powered by Sidelines