Author: K.D. Hays
Publisher: K.D. Hays
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Author: K.D. Hays
Publisher: K.D. Hays
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Life has settled into a more stable pattern for fledgling investigator Karen Maxwell of DS Investigations, but that stability is precarious. At work, she has an uneasy truce with Rodney, the “office maximizer” hired by her brother to do some of the administrative work she used to do. Her brother has not assigned her any real cases and she thinks it's because he doesn’t trust her after she was fired from her last major assignment.
But she soon gets her chance. The firm's insurance agent calls in a favor and asks them to investigate whether a valuable parrot was killed as a result of snowfall damage to a house. Karen is pretty sure Dave will assign this to her, since the investigation will involve no money or prestige. But it may help earn back his confidence.
Then Gina Callaghan hires DS Investigations to find out who sabotaged her daughter Hayley’s rope at a jump rope competition. Hayley competes in power jumping events, and she failed to make the top four in the regional tournament. If Karen can prove that one of those top four jumpers behaved unethically, then Hayley, (who was fifth) will have a spot at the national competition, and a chance to go to the World tournament. Dave assigns Karen the lead role in this case, so now she has a chance to prove to her brother that she can conclude an investigation before the client is ready to pull the plug.
Karen bribes her son to take a jump rope class on the day when the jumpers she needs to watch have their practices. Initially, Hayley Callaghan does not want the matter investigated so Karen has to be a subtle as possible. Meanwhile, in the parrot case, Karen's investigation seems to indicate that the parrot's owners are telling the truth and not trying to defraud the insurance company. But the picture they offer as proof somehow arouses Karen's suspicion.
At jump rope practice, she finds a lot of masked hostility and a host of possible suspects, but no one who saw anything. Then Hayley's sister steps forward and admits that she saw someone rummaging through her sister's rope bag. Circumstances point to two possible suspects, in addition to the sister herself. But Karen can find no proof of wrongdoing and thinks the break was most likely an accident. Then Hayley changes her position and urges Karen to follow through with her initial suspicions. She immediately wonders why.
But she doesn't have time to wonder. Her brother insists that she stop working on the insurance case and her client insists that she write up suspicions against one of the other jumpers so they can file a complaint with the national sanctioning commission. Working against the clock, Karen finds proof that the picture is fake, proving that the insurance clients were trying to defraud the agency. But time runs out on the jump rope investigation—once again the dissatisfied client fires Karen before she solves the case. This time, she knows an innocent girl is going to face blame and could be banned from the sport she loves. So she digs on until she uncovers the truth —and possible destroys a family in the process.
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“And you promise that you can be discreet?”
“Of course.” We’d never mingled with nobility or the rich and famous, but we had done work for the old moneyed families in
and knew some of them could be passionate about maintaining their privacy. Maryland
“Good,” she murmured, and again I had the sense that she was going through a checklist. I wondered if she might be the personal assistant to a rich woman who needed us to find missing heirloom jewels or locate the beneficiary of a testator’s unexpected bequest.
“I need to hire an investigator,” she said, rather redundantly.
“Yes,” I said, trying to be patient as my gaze strayed to the clock. I was going to have to flat-out run down to
to make it to the salon on time. But it would be worth it if I was able to rope
in a new client. With this woman’s educated voice and concerns about
discretion, I thought we might be looking at something substantial. Even if it
was just a woman wishing to keep tabs on her husband, she might be a client
with enough money to pay for a extensive investigation. So I didn’t want to
make her feel rushed.
“Why do you want to hire an investigator?” I asked gently.
“I need an investigator. Your best investigator,” she said firmly. “To find out who broke my daughter’s jump rope.”
*** Talking with author K. D. Hayes!***
- When did you decide to become a writer and why?
I don’t remember deciding to become a writer but I remember when I had the first hint that I wanted to be one. In college I was a not-very-successful drama major. Whenever a friend landed a part in a show, I could offer congratulations very easily. But when I heard that a guy I knew had been offered a contract to publish two books, I felt an immediate surge of jealousy. That told me right there that I was more interested in creating my own stories than in acting out tales written by someone else. But it took more than ten years after that before I could write something I didn’t absolutely hate.
- What are some of your favorite authors/books?
Like SO many other people, I am a big fan of Jane Austen’s work. I also love Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series and Forester’s Horatio Hornblower books. At the same time, I enjoy reading a lot of YA series such as the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter books, the Hunger Games trilogy and the stories of Shannon Hale. And I also enjoy books by Frances Burney, P.G. Wodehouse, Dickens and Trollope.
3. Have you written a book where the ending surprised you?
I’ve written several stories where the characters take over and do things I don’t expect, even when I have written a synopsis that calls for them to do something else. For instance, in my second mystery novel, Worth its Weight in Old, the clients fired my detective before she solved the case. She wasn’t supposed to get fired – she needed a reason to be at the scene of the crime. After the words cam out on the page, I just sat there in shock. I had to rethink the whole ending to get my detective in there. But I’m glad my characters took over there because it made the story stronger.
Probably the strangest ending I think is in my story “Bride of Belznickel,” where the heroine starts telling stories about Belznickel the Christmas demon to frighten her cousins. Her stories start to come true. It’s possible that the hero is staging things around to house to make it look like the demon has come to life. But to this day, I don’t know whether he did or it whether there was some unexplained force at work. Maybe one day he will tell me.
4. What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a couple of different things at the moment. I’m rewriting my most “serious” (it’s hard for me to be terribly serious about anything) historical novel, Restitution. It’s been out of print for a number of years and the publisher never released it in ebook, so I plan to release that sometime in 2016. I’m also finishing a story I started to write for my daughter years ago when she ran out of Harry Potter books to read. It’s a Christian urban fantasy book, if there is such a thing. My daughter is a senior in high school now (that’s her on the cover of Roped In) so while she’s still at home, I want to take advantage of her help with the story. She is much more creative with fantasy elements than I am. I try to think outside the box. She doesn’t even see a box.
5. When will it be available to readers?
I’m shooting for 2016 on that one, probably late in the year. This is a risky topic and I doubt I will find a publisher willing to take the leap of faith, so to speak. So if I self publish, I can bring it out almost as soon as it’s done.
6. If you could go anywhere on vacation where would you go?
Are you paying for this? If money is no object, then I’m going to the
South Seas somewhere, maybe
Moorea, French Polynesia where the movie The Bounty was filmed. Of course, I’m
going to expect the South Seas to be a lot
like the interior of Trader Vic’s so I may be disappointed. But as long as there’s some lush scenery,
good places to snorkel and swim, and lots of rum, I should be happy.
7. If you could meet any person (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
My first thought was “Jesus.” But I’m afraid he’d make me feel pretty inadequate, so I’m not sure I’m ready for that. (Of course, it’s never a bad idea to have a guest on hand who can turn water into wine…) On the other hand, Jesus is the one “person” I can talk to at any time, so in that sense I don’t need to meet him at all. So who would be second? That’s really tough. I think I would like to meet the first person who realized that coffee beans could be roasted, ground up and brewed into a beverage.
I would like to thank her or him. And then maybe campaign for a national holiday.
Thanks so much for having me here today!
Kate Dolan began her writing career as a legal editor and then newspaper columnist before she decided she was finally ready to tackle fiction. As the author of more than a dozen novels and novellas, she writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary mysteries and children's books under the name K.D. Hays. When not writing, she enjoys volunteering as a living history interpreter and riding roller coasters with her daughter.
Her latest book is the cozy mystery, Roped In.
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