BOOK SPOTLIGHT ON: Crimson at Cape May
Author of the Series: Haunted Shores Mysteries
Dr. Randy Overbeck is a veteran educator who has served children as a teacher and school leader. For more than three decades, his educational experiences have included responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent and he’s lived the roles of many of the characters in his stories. An accomplished writer, he has been published in trade journals, professional texts, and newspapers as well as in fiction, with his third published novel. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers, and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville, and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.
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CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY BLURB:
No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past.
Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—learned this lesson the hard way. With his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history, and famous Victorian mansions, might just be the getaway he needs. Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast. One resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for his help.
He can’t refuse.
Joining forces with Cassie, a street-wise teen and another sensitive, he investigates the bride’s death and discovers her murder is connected to a far greater horror. But can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up being the killer’s next victims?
Hello Randy! Welcome to Jeny's TattleTales!
Okay, Randy! Let's doing something totally different. Something we haven't done before. How about instead of doing an interview with you, we do a blog post?
Nonfiction Is About Reality. Fiction Is About Truth
When I heard the bestselling mystery author, S. J. Rozan share these words at a writing conference a few years ago, I was struck by this insight and it has resonated with me ever since. As an author myself, I’ve come to believe that one important purpose of good fiction is, to tell the truth about life, love, and sometimes even death.
I’m not naïve. I realize readers don’t choose a mystery or a thriller or even a romance because they are searching for insight or revelation. James Patterson is not a bestselling author because of his philosophical outlook on life.
Fiction lovers are not browsing bookshelves in bookstores—okay, checking out Amazon or BookBub listings during the pandemic—because they are searching for the meaning of life. They want to be entertained, to be scared to death, to be drawn in and forget their world, or maybe to fall in love inside the pages of their newest discovery. I realize that, above all else, readers are searching for a good story, much the same way our ancestors must have been drawn to the best storyteller around a prehistoric fire.
The most successful authors are most often the best spinners of tales.
But I also believe authors have an important responsibility. First, we need to assemble the essential ingredients to capture readers’ attention—a plausible storyline (mostly), credible characters, a setting readers can enjoy, and most importantly, a compelling narrative. But I believe if we, as authors, are fortunate enough to command our readers’ attention for hours of their precious time, they should come away with more than just solving the mystery, seeing the bad guy captured, or even making their heart race. Fiction should pose a truth, sometimes even a truth that can’t be conveyed via nonfiction, at least not as well.
That’s why, when I wrote each of the ghost stories/mysteries in my Haunted Shores Mysteries series, I attended to the “truth” part of my novel as diligently as the ghost or mystery part.
The first entry, BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE, explores the thorny issue of racial injustice and white privilege through the lens of a historical mystery. My goal was not to persuade or convince anyone, but I hoped that readers might gain a deeper understanding of this complex issue through characters they’d come to love, and through a storyline they enjoyed.
For my new release, CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY, the second in the series, I placed the murder at the center of an even greater, very real-world problem. As readers navigate through the mystery and try to solve the whodunit, they also come face to face with the disturbing reality of human trafficking, as the murder and the trafficking become intertwined.
On this issue, a few details may illustrate why I felt compelled to center my tale in the ugly world of sex slavery, prostitution, and human trafficking.
- Officials estimate somewhere near 4.5 million people are caught in the web of human trafficking worldwide. While most of those sex trafficked in the U. S. come from other countries—principally Eastern Europe, Central America, and the Far East—a great many girls, teens, and even younger, from the U.S. go missing and end up in the sex trade.
- Based on the best estimates, one out of five female runaways in the U.S. ends up being trafficked, upward from 3000 to 5000 a year, or a new teen trapped every 100 minutes!
- As recent news reports have revealed, manipulation and abuse of trafficked girls is not limited to low-level pimps. Notables such as Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, and even Prince Phillip of England have been implicated in human trafficking scandals.
- Experts believe an astounding one million children are victims of sex trafficking worldwide.
- Taken together, there are more people trapped in human trafficking today than at any time in history.
Her is a link to a brief article with some amazing—and depressing statistics:
My hope is that when readers finish CRIMSON or BLOOD, besides encountering a new, engaging mystery, exploring an interesting and unusual resort location, indulging their romantic impulses, and perhaps even straying a bit into the spirit world, they have a better grasp of the “truth” I’m trying to capture…and maybe a better understanding of the world around them and themselves.
ABOUT THE BOOK
CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY
Release Date: July 20, 2020
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre/Sub-Genre: Ghost Fiction / Ghost Mystery / Mystery
Why would this woman pursue him?
Now a safe distance away, he studied her. She was thin, with a small, drawn face of pasty skin, and he would’ve guessed her to be about his age, mid-twenties. But there was something about her, something that made him shiver. Did she have a black eye? Were those cuts on her cheek? Why hadn’t he noticed those before, when he passed her on the Promenade?
He sped up, the street crowded, congested with tourists. Normally, the jostling bodies would’ve given him the creeps, but today he was grateful for the numbers so he could blend in.
Not sure where he was headed—except away from his boardinghouse—he kept up a brisk pace. He hurried past the legendary Inn of Cape May, with its ornate, white period architecture and four stories of ancient rooms facing the beach. Any other time, he’d be thinking about taking Erin there. The place had an interesting old-time vibe. That is, if she still wanted anything to do with him. But he didn’t have time for that now. He kept moving.
As he turned back onto Beach Avenue again, the sight of the beautiful blue ocean across the road struck him and he stopped for a moment, then chanced a peek back around the corner. No sign of his stalker.
He reduced his pace, easing past a beach shop, and saw his reflection in the storefront. That gave him an idea. Ahead, he spied a coffee shop with two long windows facing the street, the panes so sparkling clean he could see the image of the sun hanging over the ocean in the glass. As he walked along, he turned his head to catch his image and, when he was far enough along, he glanced sideways at the window. Trailing behind him, he could make out, reflected in the glass, only two people, a gray-haired couple. No one else. He took a few more steps, watching and slowing a little, and exhaled. He’d lost her.
He turned and studied the man and woman, who’d paused to examine the restaurant menu posted next to the door. A few feet beyond the couple stood the woman. Darrell’s gaze darted. The couple. The woman. The coffee shop window. Back to her. The petite young woman in the tattered white dress stood hunched not more than ten feet away. Darrell searched for her reflection in the glass. There was not even a shimmer.
Oh no. Not again.
The side of the young woman’s face was beaten and bloodied. Her exposed neck bore a long, ugly purple bruise. The torn dress now had blood seeping across her torso and down her right leg. He looked back. Still nothing in the window.
The hairs on his neck stood up.
“What do you want?”
In unison, the pair turned, peered behind, and then back at Darrell. The man said, “Son, there’s no one there.”
Darrell kept staring and as he watched, the young woman walked through the older couple and stopped in front of him. This close up, her one deep blue eye—the one not blackened—seemed vacant and carried an emptiness that frightened Darrell. She again extended both pale hands, blood now covering them and dripping off her fingertips. Mesmerized, Darrell watched as fat crimson drops splattered red onto the gray sidewalk.
In her soft voice, she said again, “Please, help me. Help us.”
Darrell shook his head violently. “No. Hell, no. Not again.” Last time almost killed him