The Secrets Within
How well do you think you know your spouse, partner, or best friend? You’ve probably known each other for years, maybe even most of your lives. You’ve shared confidences and know things about that person no one else does, things that haven’t even been shared with parents or close relatives.
Of course, your loved one has chummy relationships with others outside the immediate circle such as work colleagues and social friends. But those people only see part of the picture, only the part your beloved wants to show. You, the spouse or the best bud, know the innermost depths. You know what’s kept in the bottom drawer of the bedside table. Or do you?
In Lying Blind, book six in my Nan Vining series (out February 28 by Alibi/Random House), I send Nan on a journey that rocks her faith in her once steadfast relationship with her beloved. Nan is a haunted and driven Pasadena, CA homicide detective, a single mom, and the longtime girlfriend of police sergeant Jim Kissick. Jim has always been Nan’s rock, her strong silent man, her Gary Cooper. He’s stood by her during dark times in her life. Terrible times, which have left their mark on her both psychologically and physically. He’s lifted her up with his cool head, dry wit, devotion, and hot sex. They were planning on spending their lives together, getting married after their teenagers from prior marriages are launched. Until the day that Jim responded to a call at a sprawling Pasadena estate, where he finds the naked body of a beautiful young woman floating facedown in a drift of rose petals blowing on the breeze.
By the time Nan arrives on scene, Jim has pulled the dead woman from the pool, secured the area, and sequestered the wealthy homeowners, Teddy and Rebecca Sexton. It’s all been straightforward, so why is Jim acting sketchy and evasive? Nan is full of questions, and not just about the Jane Doe. Why did Teddy text Jim instead of calling 911? Jim’s explanation—that he’s simply an old friend of Teddy and Rebecca Sexton—doesn’t sit well with Nan. She senses that they’re all hiding something—including Jim.
Then a drought-ravaged lake in a bucolic Central California town reveals a grisly secret. When two local detectives arrive in Pasadena to interview Jim and the Sextons about a mysterious death from years back, Nan realizes she has good reasons for her suspicions, making her question everything she thought she knew about Jim.
When I sat down to think about writing the next book in the Nan Vining series, Jim Kissick popped into my mind as being the focus. He didn’t play a big role in Killing Secrets (Nan #5), but he entered that book when his steady hand was welcome and did what he needed to do. He’s a favorite character of mine, and fans of the series love him. But while I sat at my desk, staring out the window, looking much like I wasn’t working at all, I started thinking about Jim. What do we know about him really? We know the bones of his life. What he’s accomplished. How he goes about his days. And we think, using a favorite analogy of a former boss of mine, like in a game of Tiddlywinks, if we push on him, we’ll know which way he’ll jump. But what about Jim’s blank spaces? The things he hasn’t revealed? Many of us have youthful indiscretions we don’t talk about. Maybe Jim has secrets from long ago he’d prefer to forget, maybe something more than just an indiscretion.
That was the launching point for Lying Blind. This book takes Nan Vining, and me, on an unexpected journey through Jim’s past, casting a net that ensnares a group of disparate characters, who share a connection to a long ago tragedy. The repercussions ripple across the decades until they explode when the corpse of poor Jane Doe is found floating in that swimming pool. I enjoyed writing Lying Blind. I hope you enjoy reading it.