Today we're spotlighting author Joan Hall Hovey on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the two suspense novels, "Night Corridor" and "The Abduction of Mary Rose" . Both these books sound amazing ... they're firmly on my TBR pile when I have a moment to read.
Now, after nine years in Bayshore mental institution, once called The Lunatic Asylum, Caroline is being released.
There will be no one to meet her. Her parents who brought her here are dead.
They have found her a room in a rooming house, a job washing dishes in a restaurant. She will do fine, they said. But no one told her that women in St. Simeon are already dying at the hands of a vicious predator. One, an actress who lived previously in her building.
And now, as Caroline struggles to survive on the outside, she realizes someone is stalking her.
But who will believe her? She's a crazy woman after all.
Then, one cold winter's night on her way home from her job, a man follows and is about to assault her when a stranger intercedes.
A stranger who hides his face and whispers her name.
"…another winner. I highly recommend it to any lover of suspense, mystery, romance, or thriller. You’ll not only race through this book, but clamor for more works by this talented and polished author. Aaron Paul Lazar, author of Healey's Cave
"...The mystery and suspense in this novel is outstanding, truly top notch, in the vein of Mary Higgins Clark, but—dare I say—even better? - In the Library
"…intricately plotted and the ending will surprise even the most devoted mystery and susense reader. Gripping suspense. – Sandy Heptinstall - Whispering Winds Reviews
Excerpt: NIGHT CORRIDOR October 1973
He noticed her as soon as he walked into the bar. She was sitting with another girl, a blond; pretty, he supposed, but his attention was riveted on the dark-haired one. He ordered a beer and took a table in the far corner where he had a good view, while he himself was safe from watchful eyes. She had satiny hair to her shoulders, high cheekbones, was slender in a silk print top, black slacks, like a woman on the cover of a magazine. She was laughing at something the blond said, flashing perfect white teeth and his heart tripped. She's the one, the voice told him. Excitement surged through him as he recast her in the movie that for years now, replayed endlessly on the screen of his mind.
When the two women rose to leave, he left his unfinished beer on the table and casually, so as not to draw attention to himself, followed them outside. She had put on a jacket and it shone bright white in the lights from the parking lot.
After chatting briefly, the two girls gave each other a quick hug, then parted and went to their respective cars, parked a good distance from one another. There was a rightness to it. They might just as easily have come in one car, or parked closer to one another. But they did not. The stars were finally lining up in his favor.
He came up behind her as she was fitting the key in the lock of the red Corvair. "I'm Buddy," he said softly, so as not to frighten her. Despite his best intention, she whirled around, eyes wide. "Jesus, you scared the shit out of me. What do you want?"
He felt the smile on his face falter. A mask, crumbling. "I just want to talk to you."
"Fuck off, okay? I'm not interested."
With those words, her beauty vanished, as if he'd imagined it. Her mouth was twisted and ugly. Disappointment weighed heavy on him. Anger boiled up from his depths.
"That was wrong of you to say that to me," he said, still speaking quietly.
Belying the softness of his voice, she saw something in his eyes then and he saw that she did, and when she opened her mouth to scream, he stuck her full in the face with his fist.
She slid down the side of the car as if boneless. He caught her before she hit the ground, then dragged her around to the other side of the car, blocking her with his own body in case someone saw them. Not that he was too concerned. If anyone did see them they would just figure she was his girlfriend and that she'd had one too many. But there was no one in the lot. Even her friend had already driven off.
He lowered her limp form to the ground while he hurried round to the driver's side and got the key out of the door. He put on his gloves, and opened the passenger door. After propping her up in the seat, he went back around and slid into the driver's side. Then he turned on the ignition and the car hummed to life.
Shifting the car into reverse, he backed out of the parking spot. He gave the wheel a hard turn and she fell against him, her hair brushing his face and filling his senses with her shampoo, something with a hint of raspberry. He pushed her off him and her head thunked against the passenger window. A soft moan escaped her, but she didn't wake.
He drove several miles out of the city, then turned left onto a rutted dirt road and stayed on it for a good ten minutes. Spotting a clearing leading into the woods, an old logging road no longer used, he eased the car in, bumping over dips and tangled roots. He went in just far enough not to be seen from the road on the off-chance someone drove by, but also taking care he wouldn't get stuck in here. The headlights picked out the white trunks of spruce trees, spot-lighting the leaves that seconds later receded into blackness, as if this were merely a stage set.
Beside him, the woman moaned again then whimpered, her hand moving to her face where he had struck her. Blood trickled darkly down one corner of her mouth and her eyes fluttered open. He knew the instant she sensed him there beside her, like the bogeyman in a nightmare.
Except she was awake now. When she turned to look at him he felt her stiffen, could see in her eyes that she knew she was in big trouble. He almost felt sorry for her. Almost.
"Who are you?" she croaked, more blood leaking from the corner of her mouth, eyes wet with tears.
"What does it matter?"
"Please…please don't hurt me. I'm—I'm sorry for what I said to you. I shouldn't have. If you want to… I mean, it's okay. You don't have to hurt…"
His fury was like lava from a volcano and his hand shot out, the back of it shutting off her words in mid-sentence. "Shut up, whore."
She was crying hard now, heavy, hiccupy sobs, helpless, terrified. But her tears meant nothing to him. She was right to be afraid. He slid the knife from its sheath that hung on his belt and let her see it.
"Oh, God, no please…" She was choking on her tears, wriggling away from him, trapped, like a butterfly on the head of a pin. He smiled when she reached for the door handle on her side, and then drove the knife into her upper arm. She screamed and he wound his fingers into her hair. "Be quiet," he said, while she held her arm with her other hand and wept like a child.
As he had wept. As he wept still.
"You can't get away," he said. "There's no place to go."
Imagine discovering everything you believe about yourself to be a lie. And that the truth could stir a killer from his lair.
Following the death of the woman she believed to be her mother, 28-year-old Naomi Waters learns from a malicious aunt that she is not only adopted, but the product of a brutal rape that left her birth mother, Mary Rose Francis, a teenager of Micmac ancestry, in a coma for 8 months.
Dealing with a sense of betrayal and loss, but with new purpose in her life, Naomi vows to track down Mary Rose's attackers and bring them to justice. She places her story in the local paper, asking for information from residents who might remember something of the case that has been cold for nearly three decades.
She is about to lose hope that her efforts will bear fruit, when she gets an anonymous phone call. Naomi has attracted the attention of one who remembers the case well.
But someone else has also read the article in the paper. The man whose DNA she carries.
And he has Naomi in his sights.
"…Ms. Hovey's talent in creating characters is so real, you feel their emotions and their fears. You want to yell at them to warn of the danger . . . and you do! Your shouts fall on deaf ears . . . and you cry! The best suspense writer I've ever read!
Beth Anderson, Author of Raven Talks back "...Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King come to mind, but JOAN HALL HOVEY is in a Class by herself!…"
J.D. Michael Phelps, Author of My Fugitive, David Janssen
"…CANADIAN MISTRESS OF SUSPENSE…The author has a remarkable ability to turn up the heat on the suspense… great characterizations and dialogue…" James Anderson, author of Deadline
Excerpt: THE ABDUCTION OF MARY ROSE
The teenage girl hurried along the darkening street, head down in a vain attempt to divert attention from herself as she headed for her bus stop, still over a block away. The car behind her was a soft growl in the still, warm air.
It was mid-June, only two weeks till school closed. The air was fragrant with the smell of lilacs that grew here and there along the street. She wore a jean skirt and white cotton shirt, and yet she felt as exposed and vulnerable as if she were naked. She was anticipating the freedom of summer and thinking about spending more time with her new friend Lisa, when she became of aware of the car following her. She had been thinking maybe she and Lisa would swim in the pond edged with the tall reeds, near her house where she sometimes fished with her grandfather. She'd let grandfather meet Lisa. She knew he would like her. It would be impossible not to like Lisa, even though her grandfather didn't quite trust white people.
The growl of the motor grew louder, and she heard the window whisper open on the passenger side, close to her. "Where you goin' in such a hurry, sweet thing?"
She didn't turn around, just kept on her way toward the bus stop, one foot in front of the other, as fast as she could go without running. Music thumped loudly from the car radio, pounding its beat into the night. It was not music she would have listened to, not like the music they'd played on Lisa's tape player tonight, and that she and Lisa had danced to in Lisa's room. Lisa had tried to teach her some new steps; it had been so much fun. They danced to songs by Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross' Mirror, Mirror and a bunch more she couldn't even remember. Lisa had a lot of records.
The music that blasted from the car sounded angry and unpleasant. The car drew up so close to her she could smell the alcohol the men had been drinking, mixed in with the gas fumes.
The car edged even closer to the curb, and the man said something ugly and dirty out the window to her and his words made her face burn, made her feel ashamed as if she had done something wrong though she knew she hadn't. She pretended not to hear, made herself look straight ahead, her eyes riveted on the yellow band around the distant pole that was the bus stop, just up past the graveyard. She kept moving forward, one foot in front of the other, trying not to look scared, and prayed they would go away. Fear made her heart race.
The day was fast fading, the sky a light mauve, only a sprinkling of stars yet. Soon it would be dark. She was always home before dark. Grandfather would be worried. A few more minutes and you'll be at the bus stop, she told herself. Ignore them. But it was impossible to do with the car following so close that the heat from the motor brushed her bare legs, like a monster's breath.
The car crawled along beside her. She moved as far away as she could get, but the pavement was next to none along here and broken. "Hey, sweet thing," the man said. "You trying to get away from us." He laughed.
Despite herself, she turned her head and looked straight into the man's face. He was grinning out at her, showing his square, white teeth, causing her heart to pound even louder than the music. He made her think of the coyotes that sometimes came skulking around grandfather's house at night hunting for small cats and dogs. No. I am wrong. He is not like the coyotes. They are just being coyotes. It is a noble animal. An evil spirit dwells within this beast. One tied with the most fragile of chains. She could feel him straining toward her, teeth bared. She would not have been surprised to see foam coming from his mouth.
Softly, he said, "Hey, Pocahontas, want a ride?"
Feeling as if a hand were at her throat, she darted a look behind her, praying to see someone, anyone, who might help her, but the street was deserted. She'd left the row of wooden houses behind her a good ten minutes ago and was now at River's End Cemetery. There was no sidewalk at all here, just the dirt path, broken curb on her left and the empty field to her right, leading up into the graveyard. If a car comes along, she thought, I'll just run right out into the middle of the road and flag it down. But none did. She visualized herself safely inside the bus and on her way home to Salmon Cove, to her grandfather's small blue house on the reservation. She would tell him all about Lisa, her new best friend from school. Her grandfather would smile at her, and be pleased for her and call her his little Sisup. She fingered the pendant around her neck that he had made for her, a kind of talisman. To keep evil spirits away.
Grandfather didn't always understand the white man's world though, and there would be worry on his weathered face because she was not home yet. But she would make them a pot of tea and they would talk, and he would forget his worry. She was still focused on the bus stop, the utility pole marked by its wide yellow band. With the car so close, the thrum of the motor vibrating through her, the bus stop seemed a mile away. She walked faster, a chill sweeping through her body. She was forced now to walk on the slight incline that led up to the graveyard. Only the ruined curb separated her from her tormentors.
A taxi fled past, but she'd been so intent on getting to the bus stop she'd noticed it too late. It had been going so fast, out of sight already, just pinpoints of taillights in the distance, then nothing.
"Hey, what's your hurry, squawgirl?"
She gave no answer, swallowed, and kept going. When the man did not speak for several minutes, she became even more frightened by his silence than his talk. The boys at school sometimes called her Indian, and other dumb stuff like pretending to be beating on war drums, or doing a rain dance, and though it hurt her feelings and sometimes even made her cry, this was different. The boys thought they were being funny. Not so with this man. She could feel his contempt, even hatred for her, and something else, something that made her mouth and throat dry and her blood race faster. As she continued to put one foot in front of the other on the worn, rocky path edging the graveyard, she was very careful not to stumble and become like the wounded deer under the hungry eye of the wolf, she kept her eyes on the pole with its yellow band. In the darkening sky, a high white moon floated.
Everything in her wanted to break into a run, but a small voice warned her that it would not be a wise thing to do. Anyway, no way could she outrun a car. Why did the bus stop seem so far away? It was like a bad dream, where no matter how fast you run you don't go anywhere, and whatever is behind you ... draws closer and closer.
She shouldn't have stayed so long at Lisa's. But they'd been having such fun, just talking and listening to music, sharing secrets. It was nice to have a best friend, to feel like any other teenager. But you're not like any other teenager. You're an Indian. She should have listened to her grandfather.
The man spoke again. "C'mon, get in, Pocahontas," he said, his tone quiet, chilling her. "We'll have us a little party." He reached a hand out the open window and she shrank from his touch, stumbled, nearly fell, tears blinding her. She heard the driver laugh, a nervous laugh and she knew he was a follower of the other man. There was an exchanged murmur of words she couldn't make out, then, the car angled ever closer to her, wheels scraping the curb, making her jump back.
"Got something for you, sweetheart," the grinning man said. "You'll like it."
More laughter, but only from him now. Adrenaline rushed through her and she started to run, ignoring the warning voice. But it was too late. The car shrieked to a stop and instantly the door flew open and the man burst from the car and grabbed her. She screamed and fought to free herself from the steel arm clamped around her waist, but it was no use. She kicked and clawed at him, but he lifted her off her feet as if she were a rag doll and threw her into the back seat, and scrambled in after her. He shut the door and hit the lock. "Go," he yelled at the driver but the car remained idling. The man looked over his shoulder, started to say something but the man holding her down yelled at him a second time to go, louder, furious, and they took off on squealing tires.
"Please let me out," she begged. "Please…" Her pleas were cut off by a powerful back-hand across the mouth, filling it with the warm, coppery taste of blood. "Gisoolg, help me," she cried out, calling on the spiritual god of her grandfather, and of his grandfather before him. But no answer came.
Up in the graveyard, an owl screeched as it too swooped down on its night prey. And all fell silent.
Ms. Hovey has held workshops and given talks at various schools and libraries in her area, including New Brunswick Community College, and taught a course in creative writing at the University of New Brunswick. For a number of years, she has been a tutor with Winghill School, a distance education school in Ottawa for aspiring writers.
She is a member of the Writer's Federation of New Brunswick, past regional Vice-President of Crime Writers of Canada, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.