An award winning and twice Christy-nominated author she has written eighteen novels of mystery and suspense, plus many short stories. When she's not writing, Linda and her husband sail the St. John River system and the coast of Maine. In the summer they move aboard their 34' sailboat aptly named - Mystery. For the past few months, she has been in the process of re-writing and bringing up to date some of her older books. Steal Away is one of these books, and she’s excited about its release as an eBook. When you finish reading, leave a comment for a chance at winning a e-book copy of Linda's book.
What Others Are Saying...
This novel will STEAL AWAY the reader from the ordinary world and transport them into the pages of this fascinating tale of portrayal, redemption and second chances. Without getting preachy, this mystery within a mystery focuses on the premise no sin is too big to be unforgivable if the person genuinely regrets what they have done (difficult to accept for many people). The protagonist is a likable person who does her job without alienating others and has such an honest personality that people open up to her. This is the first installment in what looks like a good mystery series- Harriet Klausner, mystery reviewer
The mystery will grab you and keep you guessing until the very satisfactory ending. Personalities spring to life throughout this book, each of them with their own set of problems and secrets, which build the escalating mystery to a fine pitch. This is the best book I've read in years. I can't wait for Ms. Hall's next book.- An Amazon reviewer
I cannot wait for another mystery with sleuth Teri! Pamper yourself: pour some fresh-brewed tea and curl up with Linda Hall - sure not to disappoint!-Don Pape, editor
Back Cover Copy...
Steal Away is book one of the Teri Blake-Addison private investigator series. Teri's specialty is finding people, but Teri often finds a lot more than her clients want! In Steal Away Teri is hired by a well know evangelist to find out what really happened to his wife. Five years previously she was in a sailboat accident with two friends. Their bodies were found. Hers wasn't. The minister wants to get married again yet is troubled by "ghosts of the past" and he wants to put to rest once and for all what happened to his wife.
What took Ellen away from her famous husband yearly, to the cold windy coast of Maine? Piecing together the life of an unhappy minister's wife, private investigator Teri Blake-Addison trails the wreckage to a remote Canadian island. When murder rocks the community, she realizes the puzzle may not be as simple as it had seemed.
Steal Away was a Christy Award finalist, a Daphne finalist and was given top honors by The Word Guild. As well, it was the 2004 Beacon Award winner for Best Inspirational Novel, the Winter Rose Award Winner for Best Inspirational Novel, and it was given the Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers.
STEAL AWAY - PROLOGUE:
It took her three days to dig the grave. Exhausting work, and made more so by the fact that it could only be done at night. She could not risk Audrey finding out. Better if she didn’t know. Better if she lived the rest of her small life not knowing.
“She is gone. She’s just gone,” is what would be said to the child.
There was no coffin, no satin lined casket, no memorial service broadcast on national television, no flowers; just a body wound in a new blanket and hidden behind the foundation stones at the back of the house. She had toyed with the idea of taking the body out to sea. There was a wooden dory pulled up on the shore below the cliff. At high tide she could heave it down to the water, place the body inside and row out as far as she was able. But that presented its own set of problems. Could she manage to slide the body out of the boat without capsizing it? And what if the body, instead of sinking and burying itself in the layers of bottom mud, washed up on some distant shore, a product of these unpredictable tides and swirling currents? There would be fingerprints, hair and cloth fibers. There were things they could do now, things they could discover. DNA. She had no idea how these things worked, but she couldn’t take the risk. There was Audrey to think about. No. Burial in the earth would be a comfort, she thought. No one deserves to die at sea.
The site she chose was a hundred feet up the hillside, protected by trees, and offered a view of the bay. She had walked the length of these, her woods, that bordered the craggy foggy cliffs, and all was sea swept and harsh, save for this one sheltered space. Flowers actually grew here in the summer, and the ground was pliable for digging.
There was only once in all of those three nights that she thought she heard a scratching in the underbrush. She had turned, alarmed. But, it was merely a deer who looked up at her.
“You will keep this a secret, will you not?” she said. The sound of her own voice startled her. These were the first words she had spoken aloud in many days. Even to Audrey.
The deer turned and bounded away.
At the end of each night’s digging, her hands would be blistered and raw, and sweat would be drizzled down her face despite the cold. When the hole was almost waist deep the woman climbed out and shook off the dirt. But by now it had crusted in the folds of her skin and she breathed it in through her nostrils with every breath and tasted it with every swallow. She wondered if she would ever forget that peculiar humid aroma of fresh earth.
Down at the cottage it was silent. Audrey would be asleep, her mouth opened, perhaps; maybe even jerking a bit in dreams, as she did, calling out her unintelligible words. But Audrey was silent tonight, still, and the woman did not know if this bode ill or well.
She bent over the girl’s bed, straightened the quilt around her, and with the corner of it swabbed a smear of drool that had settled on her chin.
“Dear sweet one, rest,” she whispered. “Mama’s here. Mama will always be here. Everything will be all right now.” The girl whimpered, but did not waken. The woman closed the door soundlessly behind her.
It only remained to carry the body up the hill to the grave. The tide was in, and though she couldn’t see the ocean, she heard it, a roar in her ears.
The stiffness had gone out of the corpse and it felt strangely light, as if no longer weighted down by soul and emotion and heart and will. There was a sweet odor about it, which caused the woman’s eyes to water, whether from the smell of it or with tears, she couldn’t tell. Perhaps both. She cradled the body like you would a child and carried it slowly around to the back of the house and up the path.
At the place between the trees, she stood for several moments and looked into the hole, considering. She laid the blanket wrapped body on the ground and climbed into the grave herself, then she awkwardly pulled it in after her. She laid it out at the bottom, straightened the limbs and folded the hands across the chest and covered the face with the blanket. Her movements were instinctive, her thoughts elsewhere. She was eight years old and she and her father were burying a dead bird that had flown into the picture window. That’s all it was. A dead bird. She had cried then, and her father put his hand on her head and said it was okay. All things in God’s timing. But she remembered the blue of the feathers, the way the wings folded forward and around the bird. A sparrow falling. A woman dead.
She climbed out, and began pushing shovelfuls of dirt into the body, slowly at first, but then more quickly. By the time the gray lights of morning were breaking over the sea, it was done.
She knelt for a long time and smoothed the grave over with her hands, smoothing, smoothing her garden. She spread leaves and moss over the top of it and scrub brush, working, raking the clods of earth through her fingers, until only the most astute observer would notice the seam where the earth had been peeled back.
Something should be said, she thought, at the end of this, some memorial, some service. She was openly crying now, sobbing as the magnitude of what she had done came to her. She flung herself across the top of the grave and wept.
My God, my God, why hath Thou forsaken me?
A long while later she rose, wiped her eyes with her dirt scorched hands and walked down the path to her house; the sea, a pool of molten lead in front of her.
In the kitchen she stripped off her filthy clothing and stood naked on the stone floor, the muddy jeans, the flannel shirt in a heap at her feet. She stepped away, then took a rag and drenched it in the cauldron of water on the back of the wood stove. She sopped it over her shoulders, her back, her neck, her face. Her movements were careful, slow, and she wept while she did this. For a long time she wept.
She unclipped, finally, the pins that held up her hair and lined them on the edge of the sink. She ran her hair; long, thick and mostly gray, through her fingers. Clots of dirt and bits of branches fell to the floor. With the remainder of the water, she washed her hair, getting rid of the last stink of death and dirt. When it was clean she combed it, plaited it and it hung in one long wet braid behind her back. This one act had sealed it for her. She realized that. She would cry no longer. This would be her life now.
And from this day forward she would mark her times and seasons by the rhythms of the tides and Audrey’s risings and lyings down. She would spend her days repairing the foundation of her house, poking in rocks and logs to keep it from crumbling. She would climb to the top of the lighthouse and sit and look at the sea. She and Audrey would gather mussels and dig for clams at the edge of the water when the tide was low. They would fish in the pond behind the house. She would make bread from the flour, butter and eggs that were delivered weekly from town.
In the spring she would plant flowers on the grave, and each fall the blossoms would die away to be covered by snow. And each spring she would plant them again.
This would be her life now.
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