Saturday, May 2, 2015


If you're at Malice Domestic, be sure to catch the Fifty Shades of Red Game Show tomorrow, Saturday, at 11:45! 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I'm the lonesome Red at home this weekend; Rhys, Hank, Hallie and Lucy are in Bethesda, MD, attending the Malice Domestic Conference, Debs and Susan are both in England, researching, and here I sit in Maine, waiting for the forsythia to sprout and feeling sorry for myself. Except! I'm buckled down writing, writing, writing. (Okay, with occasional breaks for driving, cooking and helping the Model UN Representative for Venezuela pull together her position papers. Besides that, it's all writing.)

So, what I'm writing? No surprise, I'm still working on HID FROM OUR EYES. I had really better get it done before I wind up having to excerpt all of it right here on Jungle Red! Today, a look back to 1972, with Chief of Police Jack Liddle, who's picked up 20-year-old Russ Van Alstyne for...well, you'll see.

At the car, Russell had folded himself into the front seat. He had taken off his t-shirt and was pressing it against his face. Jack got in, slammed the door, and reversed down the drive. He went up the road a good half mile until they were well out of range of the farmhouse, then pulled over. “Let's see it, then.”

Russell lifted his head. Jack winced. The boy's nose was bleeding, as was a cut over one eye and his split lip. “God amighty, boy, your mother's going to think I worked you over with a lead-lined hose.” He shifted into drive and got back onto the road. “C'mon, we've got to get you home. If you don't get some ice on that, your face is going to puff up like a parade balloon.”

Russ grunted, which Jack took for agreement. “You surprise me. He certainly got the better of you in that tangle.”

Russell shook his head. “Nuh-uh.” He moved his injured lip carefully around the words. “Didn't know how to fight. This,” he spread his fingers above his face, “dun't stop you.”

It doesn't stop you, huh? What does, then?”

Russell pointed. His gut, his balls. His knee, his elbow. Jack thought back to the hold the boy had on Isaac before he'd been hauled away. Russell, he realized, had been five inches away from dislocating Isaac's shoulder and shattering his elbow. He dwelt on that as he navigated though the rolling fields bright with indian paintbrush and loosestrife, over Veteran's Bridge and into town, traffic picking up on this Monday morning, then hooking onto Old Route One Hundred by the river, rising north and west toward the mountains and the rough, rocky beginnings of the Hudson. 
Finally, he said, “It wasn't a fair fight. I'm glad you didn't hurt him badly.”

Russell flashed him a look before letting his gaze drop to his hands. “I was afraid,” he mumbled.

Jack nodded. “You thought you might not be able to stop.”
Russell nodded. “If you... hand t' hand, you're not supposed to hold back.”

But you did. You were angry, and surprised, and you still held yourself back.” He glanced over at the boy. “That's the mark of a man, Russell. Self-control. Without that, he's nothing but a bully and a brute.”

Russell nodded, slowly, then closed his eyes and sank into the seat. Even at that, there was still a wire strung tight through him, ready to lash him from rest at a moment's notice. Are you that afraid they've turned you into a killer, boy?

I do love Millers Kill, but maybe I need to start a second series set in, say, Aruba. Or the south of France. Somewhere I'll have to travel to regularly in order to research... hmm, maybe Nantucket? 


  1. What a treat to see the past that defines the man Russ will become, to feel the concern and see the connection between Chief Liddle and Russ. I cannot wait to read the rest of this story!

  2. "Julia, Julia, Julia," she moans, clutching her head piteously on a dark and stormy night as the wind sends banshee wails beneath the cracks under the doors and crows sit ominously in bare trees, watching for who knows what, maybe the grim reaper or maybe not, and then another moan follows the first, "oh Julia, when will I get to read the rest of this book?"

    And I vote for the south of France, an open convertible, a long scarf draped around your neck, and dark glasses shading your eyes as you speed to your villa for further research....

  3. Oh, and I wish there was a live feed of the Reds' game show at Malice!

  4. South of France! (Terrific excerpt.)

  5. I love this snippet of Russ as a young man coming into his future self. I am so ready for this book, so I appreciate you staying home to write, Julia. Another series set in one of your dream locations would be great, but I'm enchanted with Millers Kill and the Adirondacks. As I've mentioned before, my friend and I even made our trip from 2013 Bouchercon in Albany to Niagara Falls longer so that we could drive through some of this area and eat lunch at a place by Sacandaga Lake. We ended up on what appeared to be some back roads, too, but I think they were actually main roads. All I could think of was Russ and Clare in the setting. That was thrilling for me.

  6. I can hardly wait to read the whole story we have been getting in tantalizing fragments.

    Inspired by your series, I planned a trip to the Adirondacks and fell in love with the area. I rambled through Hudson Falls, Glens Falls, Corinth, Lake Luzerne, crossed the Hudson River and traveled along the shores of Great Sacandaga Lake and up into the mountains in glorious bright fall weather. I want to return for another visit, but in the meantime, reading your books is the next best thing.

  7. Oh thank you. I needed a Russ fix.
    Maybe you could send Russ and Clare off on a real honeymoon to some warm exotic locale. But of course you need to research some places before you pick one out to set your story in. Right?

  8. Waiting is hard . . . but your writing is worth it. Love to see Russ developing his principles and style.
    Maybe Clare and Russ can vacation in France? or a temporary assignment of some sort? Or perhaps just a short story from there?

  9. Julia, I wish I was in England researching! I'm home doing exactly what you're doing--writing.

    LOVE the Russ scene. So intrigued by what you're doing with the timelines. As always, can't wait to read!

  10. PS Julia, where do you get the great photos???

  11. Russ in his youth. Wow. What a tease this is! Can't wait to read the book (I know, you can't wait to WRITE the book... i'm right there with you.)

  12. Great excerpt. I think the picture matches perfectly.

    I also wish there had been a live-feed of the Malice Panel. =)

  13. I had thought maybe you'd moved the next tale to Liverpool/Syracuse. Glad you're still in Millers Kill.

    Thanks for this teaser. Already Russ is working with anger issues. Hard to grow up with a single parent.

    Let's see, 1972. What was happening then? Freshman year? Did the Millers Kill Mutts win the class D football championship? Or was Russ on the varsity basketball team?

  14. This sounds like post-Vietnam service. And I am so waiting for this to be ready!

  15. Lyssa, you're right, this is 20-year-old Ross home from Vietnam. Although anon, you're right - Russ has a lot of issues he's unaware of around his father's death/being raised mostly by his mother.

    Debs and Mary, I got the pictures by Googling Vietnam soldiers 1972 and cops 1972. It was a dramatic year...

  16. Congratulations to Hank, Agatha winner for "Truth Be Told" and Agatha winner for "Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer's Journey" . . . .

  17. Congratulations to Rhys, Agatha winner for "Queen of Hearts" . . . .

  18. Julia!!! Wow! I. Can't. Wait., Hurry, Please!!!!! I love all your books, and eagerly await this one, then will be sorry when I have read it and am running on empty, till the next one!!!!