I’m so excited to be sharing an excerpt from Mae Clair’s End of Day, the 2nd book in her fabulous Hode’s Hill series, along with her news of a fantastic sale! First, take a look at this terrific, shivery cover!
And next, here’s Mae to tell you all about what’s coming up! Mae? You’re on!
Many thanks for hosting me today, Marcia. I’m delighted to share exciting news about my Hode’s Hill series of mysteries. For the month of February, my publisher has placed all three books on sale. That’s right—all three! End of Day and Eventide are currently priced at .99c each. Later this month, you can pick up book one, Cusp of Night FREE from the 20th through the 25th.
That means you can purchase all three supernatural suspense mysteries for a total of $1.98, a hard deal to beat. Each book features dual timelines—a mystery in the past, and a mystery in the present—which tie together at the close of each novel.
Today, I want to take a closer look at book 2, End of Day.
Jillian Cley was born with empathic abilities that have made life difficult. Because the emotions of others overwhelm her, she’s created a habit of holding people at arm’s length. She works from home and keeps to herself with only Blizzard, her therapy dog, for company. Once a week, she honors a tradition that has been passed down in her family through generations—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane. Jillian doesn’t truly understand the reasoning behind the strange obligation, but faithfully maintains the practice. Shortly before Halloween, Gabriel’s grave is dug up and his remains are stolen. At the same time, bizarre accidents begin happening to the residents of Hode’s Hill.
In the excerpt below, Detectives David Gregg and Sherre Lorquet confer about the theft.
Leaves crunched under David’s shoes as he made his way to the rear of the cemetery. Sherre Lorquet was in the farthest corner, squatting by an open grave. A decrepit-looking hickory tree hunched over her shoulder, bowed over the tomb like a sentry in mourning. Sherre stood when she saw him, dusting her hands on her pants. The area had yet to be roped off; mounds of fresh dirt scattered in humps behind the church. Fallen hickory nuts littered the ground.
“What do you think?” She indicated the narrow ditch. “Halloween trick?”
“Could be, but we’re weeks from Hell Night.” He looked for a grave marker. “Do we know the identity of the remains?”
Sherre consulted a small notebook. “Gabriel Vane. The headstone is over here.” She walked around the edge of the pit. Unlike the tall limestone and granite markers denoting other graves, Vane’s headstone was recessed into the ground. David could barely read the lettering, but someone had tended the plot, ensuring the slab was free of mold and weeds. Drawing a small flashlight from his pocket, he flicked on the beam, then dumped light on the stone.
October 21, 1799
“That’s a hell of an old grave.”
“Could be the first in the cemetery.” Sherre hooked sleek black hair behind her ear. “The original chapel on this site was built when Hode’s Hill was a village. Why would anyone want the remains of a body that’s over two centuries old?” She tilted her head to stare up at him.
“Could be a prank, or a meth-head hoping to score off the sale of old bones. Could even be ritualist.”
“Satanic?” Sherre clicked a pen against her teeth. “Not this grave.”
David raised a brow. “Why?”
“Did you look at the depth?” She inclined her head to indicate the hole. “Eight feet or better. Not sure why a body would be buried so deep, but there are more recent graves, some as late as the early twentieth century. No need for the perp to dig so far.”
“Would our grave robbers know that?”
“You used plural.”
“Had to be more than one. Too much work for a single person. And if someone is selling bones to a museum or hoping to fetch black market price, the older the better.” He squatted, noting where the dirt and grass had been raked over by slender tines. “Looks like they covered their tracks. What about tire prints?”
“Thorton’s on it.”
David nodded, standing and dusting his hands. “Shitty day. Did you hear about Coleman?”
Most everyone who worked at the precinct was on friendly terms with their janitor. Coleman often stopped to shoot the breeze in the squad room, sometimes showing up with donuts or muffins from the local bakery. The guy had been working for the city long before David started, and had to be seventy if he was a day.
Sherre’s brow knitted. “What happened?”
“He was changing a fluorescent tube when the whole light came loose, mount and all. The thing dropped like a guillotine and sliced off his ear.”
“Ambulance took him to the hospital, but I guess his heart couldn’t stand the shock. I heard he died in transit.”
Sherre blanched. “That’s horrible! Poor Coleman.” She’d been close to him like everyone else. “His wife is going to be devastated.”
“Yeah.” David dropped his voice. It sucked when bad things happened to good people. “There’s a collection going around at the precinct. The place was a mess this morning when it happened.” He forced the thought aside. Cops didn’t dwell on death, especially when they had no control over it. “You notice anything unusual about Vane’s grave?”
Sherre frowned, the movement drawing attention to the beauty mark at the corner of her mouth. The tiny mole looked damn good on her coppery skin. Too bad the department had a rule about fraternizing.
“You mean other than the fact it’s got a recessed headstone and is currently nothing more than an eight-foot ditch?”
“Yeah. What you said—and it’s isolated.”
Her brows furrowed. “Huh?”
“Take a look.” David indicated where they stood in conjunction with the other tombstones. Gabriel Vane’s grave was segregated behind the church tower, the singular burial plot removed from the others.
“Shit.” Sherre’s eyes grew wide. “It’s like he was ostracized.”
The past is never truly buried…
Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?
As the descendants of those buried in the church yard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined in a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. In order to set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.
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