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Meet The Shark! Giveaway

TheSharkPublication day is almost upon us. The Shark, the first of my The Forgotten Files novels, is already on sale and will be officially published this Tuesday, May 24th. I hope you’ll want to meet “The Shark”and put him on the top of your TBR pile. Until then, I hope you’ll take a moment to read an excerpt or check out the early reviews.


In the meantime, you’re invited to share the publication day excitement by gambling to win a copy of The Shark via the entry below.


But hurry!  The giveaway ends Tuesday at midnight.  Good luck!



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Forensic Friday: Killers with Calling Cards


Through the centuries, criminals have left “calling cards” as a way to tag a crime as their own or to send a message, usually to authorities.  Actual calling cards harken back to the days when a visitor would leave behind a card with their name on it if the person they came to see wasn’t at home.


TheSharkIn The Shark my killer has a very distinctive and consistent calling card, literally leaving behind cards, in this case playing cards. And the cards Riley Tatum and Clay Bowman find on bodies are all marked with the same word–LOSER.


In general, it is unusual for a criminal to leave a calling card, but it happens.


Back in the day when calling cards were still in use, Jack the Ripper left two the night he killed Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes.


Police sketch of the man suspected of being the "Zodiak Killer," 1969.

Police sketch of the man suspected of being the “Zodiak Killer,” 1969.

San Francisco’s Zodiac Killer sent crytograms made up of zodiac signs and letters to the San Francisco Chronicle.


The Unabomber

The Unabomber

The Unabomber sent letters to the FBI.


The D.C. Beltway Sniper left tarot cards for police.



A couple of notable one-time calling card messages were those sent by the Son of Sam and Chicago’s Lipstick Killer. “Sam” left a note at the site of a killing saying “I am a monster. I am the Son of Sam.”  The Lipstick Killer inscribed “For heaven’s sake, catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself” on a victim’s wall.


Here we see Virginia State Trooper Riley Tatum facing a bit of insomnia and using the time to research killings that may have similarities to victims in her area.


She checked the time. Several more hours to go before the alarm went off at seven and she would have to drag Hanna out of bed for her track practice. Wide awake and with no hope of getting back to sleep, she rose, shrugged off her nightgown, and tugged on her gym clothes. Cooper glanced up from his crate, but when she signaled they didn’t have to work, he curled back up to sleep. She carried her running shoes and laptop into the kitchen and fired up the coffeemaker.


While toasting a frozen bagel, Riley thought about last night’s meal she’d shared with Bowman. She hated leaving good food on the table. No matter how many years had passed, she never forgot the raw gnawing of hunger dished out to her by the streets. Since those days, she never wasted food. God, the steak on her plate had been so tender she could have cut it with a blunt knife. And she’d left most of it. Damn.


Finishing the last of the bagel, she moved to her computer. She typed: serial killer, New Orleans, and strangled girls. Everything and nothing popped up, so she added the date from twelve years ago. A few references hit that briefly mentioned four girls, all minors, found dead. Strangled. Because the girls were underage their names were never released. The bodies were all displayed in places where they could be easily found. There were no follow-up stories.


All the victims matched a similar description. Dark hair, dark eyes, between sixteen and seventeen, and all runaways. Just like her.


None of the articles mentioned playing cards discovered at any of the crime scenes. That made sense. Always a smart idea for cops to keep a few facts undisclosed that only the killer knew.

Absently, her fingertips now went to her neck. There’d been no sign of bruising on her neck. The needle marks had healed on her arm. Now, she almost doubted it had happened. But the playing cards didn’t lie. They were the evidence that she’d been taken.



Absently, her fingertips now went to her neck. There’d been no sign of bruising on her neck. The needle marks had healed on her arm. Now, she almost doubted it had happened. But the playing cards didn’t lie. They were the evidence that she’d been taken.



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Grab More Evidence & an Exclusive Excerpt!

Evidence bagMichelle of Wernersville, Pennsylvania is the winner of last week’s Grab the Evidence Bag Giveaway. Congrats, Michelle!


Tonight, this week’s evidence bag giveaway is just beginning. I’m sharing  another chance to win and debuting a new, exclusive to excerpt from The Shark, the first of my The Forgotten File novels!  I hope you enjoy it.


TheSharkAgain, if you gave it a shot last week and and didn’t win, don’t be a sore LOSER. Enter below and you may be the one to receive the next evidence bag of books.


In the meanwhile, here’s Virigina State Police Trooper Riley Tatum and Agent Dakota Sharp on their way to question the parents of a victim . . .


As they drove in silence, she thought about the playing cards hidden in her house. A thousand miles and a dozen years separated her and the day someone had given her those cards. She had no forensic evidence or memories she could attach to the cards. And with Hanna’s adoption looming, just the suggestion of a link to a serial killer could derail the final judgment. Still, the cards couldn’t be ignored.


“Have you considered entering the murder in ViCAP?” she asked.


“The FBI database? Why?”


“The playing cards found with the victim are distinctive. The handwritten word Loser on each is a signature.”


He cursed under his breath. “Don’t make this more than it is.”


Gripping the wheel, she pulled herself up a little straighter. “I disagree. They have a distinctive look. I bet they’re custom made. It’s worth a shot.”


“Anything federal amounts to a shit-ton of paperwork.”


“I’ll do it.”


He groaned and rubbed his eyes. “You don’t want to deal with the feds.”


“You don’t like the feds?”


“We’ve crossed swords before.”


“But it’s the only hard evidence we have at the moment,” she coaxed. “You’ve got to admit the cards are different.”


He tensed as she sped up to merge into highway traffic. “The cards are unique.”


“Like I said, I can help.”


He glanced at her, eyebrow raised as if searching. “What aren’t you telling me?”


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