I'm very pleased that the e-book retailer, Smashwords, is including my Halloween mystery thriller, Town Haunts, in their special Horror/Thriller promotion! To show my appreciation, I'll be discounting the e-book to just $1.99 from October 15 - 31, 2021. Customers will enter the coupon code XT28P (not case-sensitive) to obtain the discount prior to completing their checkout.
Town Haunts is the 2nd book in the award-winning Anna Nolan mystery series. Haven't read the 1st book, Framed for Murder? No problem. It's available on Smashwords for free!
Have a spooky Halloween, everyone!
Here's an excerpt from Town Haunts:
It was the middle of the night, but
Sherman couldn’t sleep. Too many old demons whirling around his brain and
pricking at his conscience. Frustrated, he threw back the covers and sat up on
the edge of the bed, the soles of his feet chilled by the bare floor boards. Running
his hands through his clipped, grizzled hair, he pushed himself up off the bed,
jammed his feet into slippers, and limped downstairs in his shorts and
The kitchen was dark, but Sherman
didn’t bother with the lights. He fumbled for a water glass from the cupboard
and took the vodka bottle out of the freezer. The blue light from the stove’s
digital clock was enough to see by as he poured two fingers of Stoli into the
glass and put the bottle back. Leaning against the counter by the kitchen sink,
he took his first sip. Ahh. The alcohol was cold and smooth going down the back
of his throat.
Meaning to count to twenty before
taking a second sip, he rested the glass on the sink and looked out the window
past the dingy curtains. The house was set up high on a hill next to the Crane
municipal cemetery, allowing him to see over the wall into the grounds. For a
moment, he thought he caught a flicker of light through the trees. He rubbed
his eyes and stared, straining to see it again, but the wind was up and the
trees were thrashing. There! He saw the light again, briefly. Maybe it was one
of those damned kids up to no good. They had no respect for the dead, knocking
over tombstones, spray painting ugly messages on the walls, and leaving empty
beer cans right on top of the graves. He’d better take a look, or else he might
have a mess to clean up tomorrow.
Forgetting to savour his drink, Sherman
downed the rest and hurried upstairs to put on his pants and a warm jacket. It
was mid-October in the Alberta Foothills, and the nights were getting frosty. He
grabbed his cemetery keys and hobbled down the stairs as fast as his sore knee
would allow. Letting himself out of the house, he slid down the damp grass
heading for the gate in the cemetery wall. The door screeched as he opened it,
and he cursed himself for not keeping the hinges oiled. Easing the door shut
behind him, he paused in the flat orange light beneath a security lamp on the
Everything was still except for the
gusting wind. He could see his breath coming out in excited puffs and smelled
the sharp wood smoke from the houses on the far side of the church. He shivered
as the wind penetrated his clothes. It was too cold to stand still for long, so
Sherman crossed the road and set off across the frosty grass. The sky was
enshrouded in thick, grey cloud, and it was inky black among the plots. He got
his bearings from the familiar tombstones, running his hands over their
chilled, smooth surfaces as he hobbled past them. Pausing by a stone angel,
Sherman peered to the left, toward the older part of the cemetery. That was the
direction the light had been coming from when he had seen it from the kitchen
There it was, blinking through a stand
of twisting evergreens. He crept toward the trees, taking his time so as not to
snap a twig along the way. Was that whispering he heard? He paused to listen,
but the branches were creaking too much to be sure, so he kept on. Reaching the
evergreens, he edged around them carefully, trailing his hands over their rough
He knew exactly where he was. There was
a bench on the other side of the trees with a plot directly in front of it. The
words inscribed on the black tombstone read, “Evelyn Mason, Beloved Wife and
Mother, November 2, 1954 – March 10, 2012.” Evie’s grave. He rounded the trees
and burst out of hiding.
“What do you think you’re doing here?”
he hollered. But there was no one there, just the dim outline of the tombstone.
He hesitated, sure that this was where he had seen the light.
“Sherman . . .” a voice sighed
plaintively on the wind. He jerked his head sideways, trying to follow the
sound, but it was impossible to tell where it came from. His hands clutched the
bench for support, the metal cold and hard beneath his fingers.
“Who’s there?” he yelled, straining to
see in the dark.
“Sherman . . .” the voice moaned,
emanating from the heart of the plot deep in front of him. His breath came in
short gasps, and his legs were shaking.
“Sherman!” the voice shrieked, piercing
his ears and squeezing the breath from his lungs. He turned to run and tripped.
Clawing at the ground, he staggered to his feet, terrified of skeletal fingers
clutching at his shoulder. He tore across the grass and ran between the plots,
barking his shins on more than one tombstone. He found the ring road and pushed
himself down it, running and hopping as fast as he could. Reaching the door in
the wall, he flung it open and staggered up the slope for home.
Thank God he had left the front door
unlocked. Once inside, he shot the bolt home and ran upstairs to cower in bed
with the ceiling light on. He lay there, his heart thumping erratically in his
chest, and willed it to calm down. Mental imaging the people at the hospital
had called it after his heart attack five years ago. He swallowed hard and
tried to think. Was he crazy, or had his wife just called to him from the other
side of the grave?
Her photograph was on his bedside table
in a polished silver frame, the only valuable thing still left. Staring at the
beautiful young woman with shining blue eyes smiling into the camera, a snort
of laughter burst from his lips. He laughed and laughed until his eyes ran, and
he was gasping for breath. The laughter subsided, and he picked up the picture
and clutched it to his chest.
“I’m sorry, Evie,” he said, his voice