NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR MARY BURTON, “THE MODERN DAY QUEEN
OF ROMANTIC SUSPENSE”* LAUNCHES HER QUARTET OF THRILLERS EXPLORING THE DARK SIDE OF TENNESSEE’S MUSIC CITY WITH COVER YOUR EYES
Burton’s Nashville Police Department Hunts the Vicious Killer of a Rising Singing Star and Goes Head-to-Head with a Lawyer Determined to Free a Convicted Murderer in Cover Your Eyes on Sale October 30th
“Fantastic work with never a dull moment.” ¾Suspense Magazine
“A well-crafted mystery and an intricate plot . . . strong, dynamic storytelling and crisp dialogue . . . good pacing, distinctive secondary characters and chilling suspense make this story one heck of
an exciting ride.”¾RT Book Reviews
“Burton’s trademark is providing the serial killer’s viewpoint without giving anything away, and by feeding the reader tiny details one at a time, she keeps the tension building.”¾Publishers Weekly
COVER YOUR EYES kicks off Mary Burton’s quartet of Nashville-set suspense novels exploring Music City’s dark side, pitting Detective Deke Morgan against Rachel Wainwright, the lawyer whose fight to free a convicted killer threatens the department’s and his father’s reputation. Burton has been compared to Steig Larson**, Lisa Gardner*** and Lisa Jackson****, and was recently dubbed “the modern day Queen of Romantic Suspense” by Book Reporter. She is the author of several national bestsellers, including You’re Not Safe and The Seventh Victim, and her novels have been praised as “excellent” (Suspense Magazine), “compelling” (Publishers Weekly) and “deliciously thrilling ” (Fresh Fiction). COVER YOUR EYES is being published as a paperback and eBook original, on sale October 30th.
DNA is at the heart of the controversial murder verdict challenged in Burton’s latest. The case, the killing of a rising star on Nashville’s music scene, was closed thirty years ago by Deke’s illustrious father, Buddy Morgan. Deke, protective of his colleagues and his father’s legacy, and Rachel, determined to reopen the case, are at odds¾both hold out for their own interests, unwilling to share new information or potential evidence. Neither anticipates the decades-old killing to reverberate in the present, but it does when the seemingly unrelated beating death of a young, destined-for-success singer leads to a string of violent slayings linked by broken dreams and echoes of the past.
As brutality and fear escalate, the stakes rise. Long-held beliefs begin to fray, including those of Deke’s siblings, all of whom follow in their father’s law enforcement footsteps. When anonymous clues, new evidence and continued attacks make it clear that no one involved is safe—especially Rachel, already assaulted twice—the time for secrets is clearly over, and Deke and Rachel join forces, risking everything to stop the killing.
Once again, Burton blends forensic science, criminal profiles and human frailty to create a suspenseful tale of pursuit and capture, layering fact and fiction to build for a story of relationships, love, loss and the quest for justice.
Her next Nashville set novel featuring the Morgan family, BE AFRAID, is second son Rick’s story. Recovered from the gunshot that nearly killed him and now part of the homicide team, he and partner Jake Bishop pursue an obsessed killer ruled by fantasies. It will be published in May 2015. In October, her novella A Ranger for Christmas will be featured in the trade paperback original holiday anthology OUR FIRST CHRISTMAS along with stories by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson, Mary Carter, and Cathy Lamb.
*Book Reporter **Publishers Weekly ***Library Journal ****Library Journal
ABOUT MARY BURTON
Mary Burton is the author of twenty-two published novels and four novellas, including her latest, CLOSE YOUR EYES, the first of four stories set in Nashville featuring the city’s preeminent law enforcement family, the Morgans, and her “Texas Ranger” books, You’re Not Safe, No Escape and The Seventh Victim. Her earlier work includes I'm Watching You, Dead Ringer and Dying Scream, set in Richmond, her hometown, Richmond, and Senseless, Merciless and Before She Dies, set in Alexandria. Mary’s intensive research has led to interviews with law enforcement, seminars and classes, and the firing range. She is a graduate of the Henrico County Citizens Police Academy and the Richmond FBI Citizen's Academy, and has attended Sisters in Crime's Forensic University program and the Writers Police Academy in Jamestown, North Carolina.
A Richmond native whose family roots run as deep as the nation's, Mary has lived there for most of her life. She graduated from Virginia's Hollins University and had a career in marketing before committing to write full time. Her first manuscript, a historical romance, was published in 2000. She is a member of Thriller Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She travels often for signings and other appearances. She is a frequent speaker regarding writing and genre fiction, and continues to present her "Unraveling Romantic Suspense" workshop and her day-long program "Writing Your Book...The First Step."
Mary is currently at work on her fourth Nashville-set suspense novel.
AN EXCERPT FROM MARY BURTON’S COVER YOUR EYES
Rachel dropped her gaze to her talking points. Stick to the facts. Add emotion. Eye contact.
The facts were: thirty years ago a young mother, Annie Rivers Dawson had been brutally murdered. Annie’s younger sister had arrived for a visit and discovered the house covered in blood and Annie’s newborn wailing in her crib. Police had been summoned. No body had been found but police concluded Annie could not have survived such blood loss. The case had gone unsolved for three months.
The public had been in a panic knowing a young woman and new mother from a good neighborhood had been brutally murdered. The press had put tremendous pressure on the cops. There’d been extensive searches for the body until finally a tip led cops to the remains of a woman wearing Annie’s clothes and jewelry. The outcry for justice grew louder. Even the governor had weighed in on the case.
Rachel’s client, Jeb Jones, had been a handyman in Nashville at the time of Annie’s death. He’d had an eighth grade education, was considered a good, if not, an inconsistent worker who drank heavily at times, and had been married with a nine-year-old son. He’d never made much money but he got by. And then one night cops, acting on a tip from a paid informant, had searched the trunk of Jeb’s ’71 Cutlass sedan and found a bloody tire iron. Jeb had been arrested. Under interrogation, he’d confessed, though within twenty-four hours had recanted. The blood testing available at the time, crude by today’s standards, had indicated the two blood samples on the tire iron matched both Annie’s and Jeb’s types.
Further investigation revealed that Jeb had known the victim. He’d worked in her apartment building and witnesses had later said he had been caught staring at Annie once or twice.
His trial was set a month after his arrest and it lasted five days. Dozens testified that Jeb had a drinking problem and had cheated on his wife. Though Jeb had never denied he was a bad father and husband, he swore that he’d not killed Annie. He didn’t know how the tire iron ended up in his car.
Rachel wouldn’t discuss science tonight but would stick with her emotional plea to the public: we need to pressure the cops for a DNA test.
Christ, Rachel, these people could care less.
Her brother’s voice all but hissed as she stared at the uninspired crowd and her stomach knotted another twist. She might not muster passion in this group, but the right television airtime could turn up the heat on the cops.
The news van arrived and Rachel now coveted Colleen’s smoothness. Rachel had no soft edges. Life had sharpened those edges into razors. . . .
Rachel scanned the crowd one last time hoping for a flicker of excitement. Off to the left she spotted a man she’d missed the first time. He stood apart from the crowd, partly concealed by a shadow cast by the building protecting his back. Given his dark suit, white shirt, red tie and black western boots she’d have cast him as a banker or another lawyer. His short dark hair and square jaw fit the possible scenarios. However, the hard angles of his face, frown lines that cut deep and a battle ready stance dashed her theories.
For a moment she wondered why a man like him would be here and then the pieces fell into place. He was Detective Deke Morgan...
Her stomach clenched. She’d seen him once in court eight or nine months ago. He’d testified in a drug case and though his hair had been long and his beard thick, the eyes held the same intensity as the man edging the crowd. The Deke in her memory had a Tennessee drawl, adding a quiet authority the jury did not ignore. After he’d testified he’d remained in his chair, stoic and watching.
Now his gaze skimmed her meager crowd, studying them until he seemed satisfied that this group was not driven enough to pose a threat. His gaze settled on her . . .
At exactly six fifteen as the sun set she stood on the curb, lifted the microphone to her mouth, moistened her lips, and began to tell the story of Jeb Jones.
The crowd grew quiet and news cameras rolled. Several times she paused to gather her thoughts, which kept trying to skitter ahead. More people stopped to listen and the flicker of the candles in the crowd grew brighter.
She could see disinterested faces grow solemn as the impact of her words settled. Passersby stopped to listen. “He deserves to have the DNA test.”
When she finished, the reporter, a woman with a tall lean build emphasized by a red body slimming dress, moved to the front of the crowd and held out her microphone. A closer look revealed the woman was well into her fifties. “So do you blame the Nashville Police Department for a possible miscarriage of justice?”
“I can’t speak to what happened thirty years ago. I can only talk about now. And today the Nashville Police Department has DNA evidence from the Dawson murder trial. They’ve yet to respond to my requests for retesting and my fear is that the test will be forgotten or worse, swept under the rug and my client will die in prison.”
A murmur rumbled through the crowd. More hands shot up.
“What can we do?” Colleen shouted as if she too were part of the crowd.
“Call the police department. Call you councilman. Let them know that Jeb Jones deserves to be heard.” . . .
“What about Annie Rivers Dawson? The victim!” The angry voice shot out from the edges of the crowd.
Rachel studied the cluster of people and settled on a woman dressed in a dark, loose fitting dress stepped forward. She wore her dark hair in a bun and no makeup adorned her pale angled face.
Rachel had thought someone might remember Annie and had prepared comments. “My focus today is on Jeb Jones. He’s been a victim of the system for thirty years.”
“Annie Rivers Dawson is dead.” The woman moved forward clutching a well-worn purse close and moving to within feet of Rachel.
The reporter and her cameraman had also moved in closer. If Rachel dodged this woman or her question, it wouldn’t play well. The eyes of Nashville were upon them.
“Annie deserves to have her real killer behind bars,” Rachel said.
“Her real killer is behind bars.” Despite a mousy demeanor, the woman’s voice reverberated with fierce anger.
“Her death was tragic,” Rachel said. “I’ve never denied that.”
The woman fished an eight by ten picture out of her large purse. The image was a publicity shot of a young smiling woman and Rachel recognized Annie Rivers Dawson’s face immediately. Annie had had long blond hair that billowed around a face with the perfect blend of porcelain skin, a high swipe of cheekbones and smiling full lips that added a joyous spark to bright blue eyes. “She was a talented beautiful new mother and she was brutally beaten. Her house was covered in blood and her body was found in pieces because of your client!”
Anxiety singed Rachel’s skin leaving her cheeks flushed. “Annie’s death was a great loss. Tragic. But the police never adequately proved that my client was involved in her death.”
“The murder weapon was found in his car!” Her voice had grown louder and her face flushed with anger. “How can you stand there and defend that human piece of garbage?”
Aware of the crowd’s intense interest, she clung to her control with an iron grip as she lowered her microphone. “This vigil is about Jeb and his right to have the DNA testing.”
“His right!” The woman advanced a step. “What rights did Annie have? She had the right to live and raise her baby but those rights were stolen from her by Jeb Jones.”
“The cops found lots of evidence against him, including witnesses who said he stalked her!” she shrieked.
“He concedes that.”
“Of course.” Her voice had grown louder and sharpened with a dramatic edge as she now played to the crowd. “Poor murderer. He’s the victim.” She spit on the ground. “The media loves to focus on the perpetrator. They always forget the victim silenced by death.”
Rachel stepped off the curb and moved toward the woman. Her hope was to calm her and dial down the energy in their conversation. Later they could talk in private. “I haven’t forgotten about Annie.”
“You might remember her, but you don’t care about her. All you care about is him.” The woman’s fingers fisted around the edge of the picture so tightly, her knuckles turned white.
“What if Jeb didn’t kill Annie?” Rachel reasoned. “Have you ever considered that the real killer is still out there and perhaps killing other women?”
The woman shook her head, her gaze zeroed in on Rachel. “The real killer is not out there. He is rotting behind bars as he should be.” . . .
The Channel Five camera caught every word of the argument. Later the reporter would pluck chosen sound bites for the eleven o’clock news. “I want justice, Ms. Miller. DNA testing will prove once and for all if Jeb killed Annie.”
“No test is going to change what I know in my heart! That bastard killed my sister!” More tears welled in her eyes.
Rachel, drawn by the tears, missed the woman’s right hook, which rose up as quick as a viper. The bare-knuckled fist struck hard against her jaw sending pain reverberating through her head. Thoughts scrambled, she staggered, nearly caught herself, but teetered on her heels and dropped to her knees.
The sounds from the crowd grew distant as her head buzzed and popped. She was aware of Colleen calling for the police as she pushed through the crowd . . .
Rachel’s head cleared and she planted high-heeled feet, wobbled and pulled back her shoulders. She balled her fingers into a fist, focusing on Margaret Miller now being held back by a Nashville uniformed officer. The woman’s screaming pounded inside her skull.
“Call an ambulance.” Colleen’s command snapped like a whip, prompting several to fish in their pockets for a cell.
Rachel blinked, worked her jaw. “That’s not necessary.”
“It is,” Colleen said. “You could have a head injury.”
Rachel readied to protest again when she saw Deke Morgan glaring down.
He looked amused. “She clocked you pretty good.” . . .
“You want to press charges?”
The cameras still rolled but now she wanted the press to go away. She’d meant what she’d said about talking to Margaret in private. She didn’t want a war. “No charges.”
A restrained Margaret shook her head. “You better arrest me! I’ll hit her again given the chance. She is a menace.”
The verbal threat earned the woman a set of handcuffs, which constrained her arms behind her back. She sneered at Rachel and spit. Spittle landed inches short of Rachel’s feet. . .
“Sure about those charges?” Detective Morgan asked.
© 2014 Mary Burton COVER YOUR EYES
COVER YOUR EYES by Mary Burton
Kensington Books/Zebra Mass Market Original/Fiction
November 2014/On Sale 10-28-14/$7.99 ($8.99 Canada)