New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

Walking the Crime Scene for Darkness on the Edge of Town

J. Carson Black photoTwo of my police officer friends approached me with a startling proposition. They knew I was beginning a new mystery series, and they suggested a theme for the first book — internet sexual predators and the danger they pose. They wanted parents to know about this.

My character, Laura Cardinal, is a detective with the Arizona DPS. A veteran homicide investigator with DPS worked with me on the story, and even drove down to the old mining town of Bisbee to “walk the crime scene.” The story opens with a girl found dead in the Bisbee park band shell.

My friend took me through the whole process, looking at the scene as if it were real. We didn’t have a body (some things you have to fake), but he told me what to look for. Standing there in the hot sun, following his lead, I could feel the story materialize around me. One thing I learned was how my friend kept from touching anything. He made it a practice to tuck his hands under his armpits so he would not be tempted. So my character Laura did this as well. It was spooky, fun, and illuminating all at once. Hands-on research is one of the most edifying tasks of writing a novel.

I will always remember that time of year, that day, for what I learned and the help from my DPS detective friend—he was the model for Laura Cardinal and I couldn’t have found a better one.

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