Perfect for when you need some action.
The Lake Templeton Murders by HS Burney released in October in the Mystery / Thriller genre.
A body washes up on the shores of Lake Templeton, a small town on the coast of Vancouver Island. Sharon Reese, the victim, was a dedicated government employee. Everyone liked her, but no one knew much about her. Was she hiding something? Maybe a questionable past riddled with scandal. And did it lead to her plunge to death, in a drunken stupor, off the dock outside her secluded lakefront lodge?
Was it an accident? A suicide? Or cold-blooded murder? Private Investigator, Fati Rizvi, is determined to find out.
Fati arrives in Lake Templeton to find secrets that run as deep as the City’s sewers. Everyone is hiding something and nothing is as it seems. A cult escapee. A corrupt politician. A struggling airline. A multi-million dollar public-private project to revitalize the Lake Templeton waterfront. How are they all connected?
As Fati valiantly unravels the knots, another body is found on the shore. Is it the same killer? And can Fati stop them before they strike again?
It was these waves that carried Sharon once the water besieged her lungs and she stopped breathing. Maybe her killer was hoping that the body would descend to the depths of the ocean, swallowing its secrets. It must have been a rude shock to see the evidence of their crime splashed across the morning papers.
Sharon’s body was half-reposed face-down on the wet sand, deposited on the shore like plastic waste. Clumps of hair were caught in the jagged rocks that edge the receding land, one bloated arm flung over a large boulder, as if trying to find a grip. Her legs floated behind her like windsocks. Silk shirt ballooned over the surface of the water like a parachute.
The crime scene has been cleared up. Culver Beach sparkles in the vestiges of the sinking sunlight, sand glinting like diamond dust. The only remnants of the morning’s tragic discovery – dried boot prints in the grassy sand, left behind by the police.
The nearest house is walled off by a thicket of trees and is currently empty, owned by a businessman who only spends a few months here in the summers. The beach is quiet, with not even a dog walker in sight. I walk on the sand for a few minutes, shoes in hand, reveling in the quietude. I breathe in the fresh air, slightly briny, and crisp enough to open up my nasal pathways.
No answers will be found here. Not for me.
Sergio’s house hibernates, squeezed in the warm hug of the thicket of trees that surround it. They’re evergreens so they hold on to their leaves, even in winter, until the whistling wind snatches them away and showers them on the lawn. Despite Sergio’s gallant efforts with the rake, his driveway is again covered in shrubs and branches.
I pull up behind Sergio’s car, parked in its usual spot in the driveway, the mud cracked and crusting on its back tires, windows streaked with messy wet tracks made when rain intermingled with dust. The killer must have picked him up and driven him to Pebble Beach.
Detective Singh’s police cruiser is parked neatly angled to the side of the road. As I approach the house, I see a shattered window in the front.
I haven’t seen young children living in the neighbourhood. Most houses in Sergio’s vicinity belong to empty-nester retirees and snowbirds. Was this an accident or something more sinister? Did someone smash Sergio’s window?
At the foot of Sergio’s porch stands his city recycling box. It’s filled to the brim with plastic containers and folded up cardboard boxes, as if Sergio had just finished cleaning and decluttering. I move closer for a better look. An empty bottle of Tito’s vodka, several Amazon boxes, soup cans, and yogurt containers. A box for a Blackmagic Design pro camera that costs almost thirteen thousand dollars. A black rectangular tube that housed a Chanel snowboard.
How much was the City paying Sergio?
Zed and I arrive after ten p.m. We park in an underground lot a few blocks away. Granville Street at night is a cornucopia of debauchery. Drunk girls totter on heels and too-tight skirts, giggling and holding each other. The heavy smell of sweat mixed with marijuana mixed with alcohol hangs in the air like a toxic thundercloud. The sidewalk is sticky with spilled drinks and other substances you don’t want to think about. Bedraggled bums cluster in dark corners, their life’s possessions gathered at their feet in duffel bags. They panhandle, lighting their pipes, smoking their cigarettes, and shooting their heroin without apology.
The street is dotted with black-doored establishments that advertise their presence with glowing signs and glowering bouncers. At the most popular clubs, lines of partygoers stretch, smoking cigarettes while waiting for entry. Zed and I blend into the shadows, two travelers that don’t quite belong but don’t stick out either.
This is Caleb’s world. In contrast, the clean-cut Sergio snowboarded on weekends and went running every morning. They had nothing in common besides their desire to sing. And it was this commonality that led their worlds to collide so painfully.
At Legends, the thrum of the music wafting from behind heavy curtain and chain gives away the mayhem brewing inside. The roasting interior is awash in flashing lights. The smell of stale beer and rank sweat overpowers me. I choke back my gag reflex.
Caleb is not hard to find. He is huddled with other youth, all misty eyes and lost faces, in a chemical-induced otherworld.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
HS Burney writes fast-moving, action-packed mysteries set against the backdrop of majestic mountains and crystalline ocean in West Coast Canada. She loves creating characters that keep you on your toes. A corporate executive by day and a novelist by night, HS Burney received her Bachelors’ in Creative Writing from Lafayette College. A proud Canadian immigrant, she takes her readers into worlds populated by diverse characters with unique cultural backgrounds. When not writing, she is out hiking, waiting for the next story idea to strike, and pull her into a new world.
What was the inspiration for this story?
My setting, Vancouver Island, is one that I visit often. I am blessed to live in beautiful British Columbia on the Canadian Pacific coast with its sweeping views of raw nature, majestic mountains and sparkling ocean. I live in a big city but often visit smaller and more touristy towns in my province. I’ve always been fascinated by how life unfurls there. Everyone seems to be connected to everyone else. People congregate in the town square. Life seems simple on the surface, but I always wonder what goes on beneath the surface. The secrets people keep, the scandal that brews.
My characters are amalgams of people I’ve met in real life, read about, or seen on TV. I’ve tried to make them as real as I could but not boring. If a character doesn’t have a scandalous past and hidden intentions, I don’t want to write about them! One thing that’s very important to me is diversity. It’s the bedrock of where I live in Vancouver where people from all over the world converge, bringing their rich cultures and traditions. It was extremely important to me to have my book reflect that.
My main character, Private Investigator, Fati Rizvi, is a woman who I know intimately. She is a bit of a maverick, strong-headed and independent and her family immigrated to Canada from Pakistan. Growing up, she battled societal expectations and their stark contrast to the life she wanted to live, with the latter ultimately winning out. She and I have a lot in common. But we are different in many ways too. Because writing a character who is me would be boring – and that’s a cardinal sin when writing mysteries.
My plot is inspired by everyday occurrences, things I’ve experienced, stories I’ve read or heard, with added color. Similar to my characters, the way I approach plot is that it has to be realistic – but also tantalizing. What happens has to be shocking, but not inconceivable. The storylines of infidelity, family pressures, financial fraud, and soured relationships are ones that we can all identify with.
My book is inspired by the myriad of nailbiters that I have enjoyed throughout my life. I wanted to keep my readers up at night, to make sure they kept turning the page. Harlan Coben is one of my favorite writers and I’ve always enjoyed novels by Mary Higgins Clark. Not to mention the classics such as Agatha Christie and the Sherlock Holmes series written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Growing up, one of my favorite writers was Sidney Sheldon. I’ve read and re-read his books multiple times. He’s the master of suspense who inspires me to write a tight narrative, woven with cliff-hangers.
The Lake Templeton Murders is just the beginning. I have more ideas than I can execute in a lifetime. I plan to publish many more mysteries involving Private Investigator, Fati Rizvi.
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