Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Thanks, SAR Dogs & Handlers!

I've had an interest in search dogs, especially cadaver dogs, since about 1997, when I was researching Bones. (As I understand it, a new term for this is HRD dogs -- human remains detection dogs.) This led to the creation Bingle and Bool, SAR dogs in the Irene Kelly series.

I've met some wonderful individuals through my research for the books, many of whom were generous with their time. And some great dogs, too. (Such as Gustav, pictured here.) I count some of the human and canine searchers among my friends and I'm proud to know them.

The SAR folks spend lots of hours training and caring for their dogs, often go to great expense for specialized equipment and training, and many of them are frequently called out at all hours and work in conditions that range from tedious to dangerous. They do all this as volunteers.

Which is not to say that everyone who participates is a saint. (A fact that I make use of in Kidnapped. I asked some of the people I know in SAR to tell me about the traits of their nightmare encounters, and got great responses.)

Many people have heard of Sandra Anderson, who plead guilty in 2004 to planting evidence at a crime scene and making false statements to authorities. Her actions outraged other search dog handlers and raised questions about the use of canines in forensic work in other quarters.

And now, another case is making news.

When you see these stories, try not to forget the hard work of the hundreds of dog handlers and their canines, who have found lost children, stranded hikers, wandering Alzheimer's patients, trapped earthquake victims, hidden remains, and more.

Monday, May 29, 2006

David Weiss: What's Temporary is Permanent

I'm a Mac user, so David Weiss's blog has become a new favorite place to visit. But his post this past Saturday was thought-provoking for reasons well beyond those that can allow one to make better use of a computer.

He talks about how easy it is for developers, under pressure, to apply a temporary fix, something to get one through the moment's crisis and move on. I know this can happen to fiction writers, too -- to all of us, really.

How many times in life does employing the expedient weaken the scaffolding we want to use to cross to our true goals?

Read Weiss's post here:

David Weiss: What's Temporary is Permanent

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Celebrating 18

Not the short story anthology -- but the years I've been married to Dr. Frankenstrat, aka Tim Burke, as of today. So forgive me for not posting at length -- we've got some celebrating to do!


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hoe down

I'm just so glad my dad didn't see this when we were kids. We probably would have caused a cinderblock wall to collapse. On the other hand, this week we could have been helping in the search for Jimmy Hoffa.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Kidnapped Part 2 (Warning: possible spoilers)

Five years later, Caleb is a graduate student in forensic anthropology, training as an assistant to Professor Ben Sheridan. [Whom you met in Bones.] He's still convinced that Mason is innocent and that Jenny is alive. He finds an unexpected ally in a friend of Ben's — reporter Irene Kelly.

Irene has been writing stories about the abduction of children by their non-custodial parents. She's been getting calls all morning from readers, including people like Jane Serre. Two years ago her former spouse, Gerald Serre, picked up their young son, Luke, from day care for a scheduled weekend visit — and never brought him back.

Irene is later sent to a scene where Ben and Caleb are recovering the remains of a murder victim — and is shocked to learn that the victim is Gerald Serre. But if Gerald Serre is dead, what has become of Luke? Irene is determined to find out.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Kidnapped Part 1 (Warning: possible spoilers)

For those who've waited for more information about Kidnapped, here's a bit of plot. If you hate all spoilers, skip this post entirely!

Kidnapped opens as the killer of Richard Fletcher is cleaning up the crime scene. The victim was a graphic artist — and a son of Graydon Fletcher.

Graydon Fletcher is famous in Las Piernas. Over the years, he and his late wife adopted twenty-one children and cared for countless others. They founded a highly regarded private school. As adults, the Fletchers have prospered. Many of the Fletcher children and grandchildren have gone on to be successful in business, law, medicine and other professions. They are often leaders in their community.

Richard Fletcher was somewhat estranged from them.

Several hours after the murder Richard’s son, high school student Caleb Fletcher, is called from class and told of his father's death. Detective Frank Harriman also informs him that his little sister — Jenny Fletcher, just shy of her fourth birthday — is missing from the scene. Caleb's fervent hope is that his older half-brother, Mason, who is devoted to Jenny, stopped by earlier in the day and picked her up before his dad was killed. But no one knows where Mason is, either.

When Mason is found hours later, there's plenty of evidence to indicate he killed his stepfather. Jenny is nowhere to be found.

Caleb watches helplessly as Mason is brought to trial and found guilty of murdering Richard and Jenny.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A brief intro and spoiler warning

The idea for Kidnapped came to me while I was working on Bloodlines. I'll talk more about this in the near future, but for now, I'll tell you that I was surprised to learn how many children (in the U.S.) are reported missing each year. Abductions by non-custodial parents accounted for a large number of these, though far from all. How were these children continually hidden from view?

Really, how hard would it be...?

I’d never ask my neighbors to prove that their children, who often didn't really resemble either parent, were related to them. Except in small towns and rural areas, how well do any of us know the families who surround us?

So...those questions started me on the path to Kidnapped, a path that had other twists and turns along the way.

Kidnapped is an Irene Kelly novel, told in two parts.

The first part of Kidnapped takes place about six years before the second part. The central crime in the book occurs in the first section.

The second part takes place very near the time (in series time!) when Bloodlines ends. If you have been paying close attention, that's the year 2000.

For those who've waited for more information about Kidnapped, the next two posts will contain a bit of plot. If you hate all spoilers, skip the next two posts, "Kidnapped Part I" and "Kidnapped Part II."

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I'm tempted to begin by talking about some of my favorite blogs and Web sites — Post Secret, for example, where the confessional goes postal, and gems like the one here are displayed one week at a time — and to ask you to tell me about your favorites. The Internet is our friend, right? Well, if not always, most of the 24/7.

Oscar Wilde once said, "I can resist everything but temptation." (Did you know that dead people can have official Web sites? That link will take you to Mr. Wilde's. Way ahead of his time.) In this case, I'll resist temptation for a little while. Not too long, I promise.

For those of you who've come here through my Web site or newsletter, I do owe you news, so let's start with that and hope to branch out from there. If you were reading the message boards on my Web site before I had to get rid of them, you realize that the discussions here might range from Helms Bakery trucks to chickens to astronomy and beyond.

Kidnapped, the next Irene Kelly book, will be out in October, 2006.

I'll be touring in these cities, details yet to come:

Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco

I'll also be at Bouchercon 2006 in Madison, Wisconsin. Stay tuned for other additions to the schedule.

Next post: more about Kidnapped.