Friday, August 17, 2012

Justified by Carolyn Arnold: Interview

Madison Knight should have ignored the call. Now she is spending Christmas Eve dealing with her least favorite thing...blood and lots of it.

When a female victim is found in her home it has Madison and her partner tapping into the vic's personal life. With a rash of former business partners and lovers, all of whom wanted her dead, there are not enough hours to question them all.

But trying to find the person who had the most motive isn't all that's on Madison's mind. As she struggles to establish balance in her own life, she knows she has to get her focus back. Justice requires it.


He had to do it.  He had no choice.  Pushed into an unpleasant corner, he had no other option.  How could he allow himself to be walked all over, manipulated?  All that he had sacrificed for her, laid on the line.

It was pitch black, the wind moaned and small flakes dared to precipitate.  It was a bitter cold, the type he felt through to his bones.

He knocked on the door.

He had chosen the backside of the house for added seclusion.  If the cover of the night wasn’t enough, surely this approach would diminish the possibility of a curious neighbor trying to play hero.  He didn’t need any cops showing up.  This was to be a private visit.

He knocked again, harder and more deliberate.  A light came on inside followed by one on the back porch.  Finally, attention was being paid.

She opened the door the few inches the chain would allow.  “What are you doing here?”

“Trying to reason with you.”  The chills left his body and a calm, radiant heat overtook him.

The door shut.  The chain rattled.  The door reopened.  “You can’t just show up whenever you feel like it.”  She let him in, more likely for her own comfort given the way she was dressed.  Arms crossed in front of her chest, an act of modesty over a lacey piece of lingerie.  He had seen it before.  Shivers trembled through her, and she gripped her arms tighter. “What is it?”

He disregarded the tone in her voice, the condescending overture it carried.  He ignored the body language that screamed for him to leave.  He went to touch a ribbon that served as a strap.

She stepped back.  “Please don’t—”

“Claire, we’re meant to be together.”  He was surprised by his lack of control, as his voice had risen in pitch with each word.

“You should leave.”

There was more to her words.  And the way she was dressed.  “You move on already?”  He took steps forward, heading for her bedroom. 

She grabbed his arm and pulled him back.  She didn’t deny his accusation, and she refused to look at him when she did speak.  “It was your choice. I gave you the option.”

He swore her eyes misted over.  “Not really much of one.” 

“You should go.”

He shook his head, as if it would bury the jealousy.  But the fact there was someone else here, lying in her bed, waiting on her to come back…

He would do what he came to do—regardless.  He had too much to lose.

Chapter 1

The coffee came up into the back of her throat the way it always did.  Madison Knight swallowed hard, forcing the acidic bile back down.  This was a messy one, the kind she did her best to avoid.  She knew the first officer on scene was speaking, but the words weren’t making it through.  Despite her revulsion, her eyes were frozen on what was before her. 
The victim lay on a crimson blanket of death, wearing nothing but a lacy camisole.  The blood pool reached around her body in an approximate two-foot circumference.  The blood had coagulated resulting in a curdled pudding-like consistency.  The kitchen floor was a porous ceramic, and the blood had found its way to the grout lines and seeped through it like veins.  Arterial spray had splattered the backsplash like the work of an abstract painter who had fanned a loaded brush against the canvas.

Cynthia Baxter was hunched close to the body taking photos and collecting shards of glass that were in the blood.   She was head of the Forensics lab, but her job also required time in the field.  She looked up at Madison, nodded a hello, and offered a small smile.  Madison knew her well enough as a friend outside of work that the facial expression was sincere; the scene only dampened its fruition.

Weir, the first officer on scene, stood back at the doorway that was between the front living room and the kitchen.  “Such a shame, especially on Christmas Eve.”

Terry Grant, Madison’s partner, braced his hands on his holster and exhaled a jagged deep breath.

“What’s her name and background?”  Madison asked Weir with her eyes on the victim.

“The vic is Claire Reeves, forty-three.  Lived here alone.  No record of restraining orders or anything out of the ordinary.  Nothing noted as her place of employment.  Her maid, Allison Minard, found her.  She’s over at the neighbors.  Officer Higgins is over there with her.”

Madison managed to break eye contact from the body, glanced at Terry, and settled her gaze on Weir.  His words had broken through as though out of context. 

“Detective Knight?”  Judging by the softness in his tone of voice, Weir must have read her reaction to the scene.  His eyes inquired if she was okay, but the silent probing would have been squashed by the wall she had erected.  He continued, “The maid’s pretty shaken up.”

Madison could understand that.  She had experience in processing murder scenes and she could barely handle this one.  She did her best to keep eye contact with the officer, but her fear—her distaste for blood—kept pulling her attention to the woman.

Claire.  That was her name before she had been reduced to this.  To be killed in this manner pointed towards an emotional assailant.  Her lack of clothing also indicated the vic likely had an intimate relationship with her killer.

Madison scanned the room.  There was no sign of a struggle—no overturned chairs or broken dishes.  The only thing standing out was a tea towel bunched on the floor in front of the stove as if it had slipped off the front bar.  “Any evidence of forced entry?”

Weir shook his head.

“She let her killer in.”  Madison’s eyes dropped back to the victim.

She was someone’s daughter, someone’s best friend, someone’s lover.  Normally Madison didn’t have an issue with separating herself from the crime scene and keeping them impersonal.  Maybe it had something to do with all that blood and the fact Claire had been murdered just before Christmas.

The vic was on her back, albeit slightly twisted, from the fall to the floor.  Her legs were crumpled beneath her.  A large slash lined her neck, and based on the angle and directionality, her killer had come from behind.  Logic dictated this killing method typically belonged to a male but something about the maid finding the body didn’t make sense. “So the maid was to work on Christmas Eve?”

“Supposedly she got a text message from Claire.  She called us right after she—”  Weir pointed toward the vomit at the far entrance to the kitchen. 

Madison had noticed it on the way through.  She took a shallow breath, hoping to cleanse her focus, despite the fact the stench of the crime scene had transformed to a coating on her tongue.  “Did you see this text message?”

Weir shook his head.  “She couldn’t produce it.  Said she must have accidentally deleted it.”

“Anyone think to check Claire’s phone?”

“I’ll go check on that now.”  Weir’s cheeks flushed.  “Anyway Higgins is with her, and Richards should be here soon.”  He excused himself with a wave of a hand.

Cole Richards was the Medical Examiner.

Cynthia rose to her feet, picked up her kit, and addressed Madison, “So what are you thinking?  Love affair gone wrong?”

“It looks like it could be, but rarely are things that straight forward.”

“Isn’t that the truth?  But I know you’ll figure it out.”

“Hey, I’m here too,” Terry said.

Both women smiled.

“Okay, both of you will figure it out.”

“Better.”  Terry smiled.

Cynthia left the kitchen in the direction of a hallway that no doubt led to the bedrooms. Based on the vic’s attire, it would be a reasonable progression to search there.

Madison moved toward the vic.  “Wonder where her underwear are.”

“Maybe they were of the edible variety.”  Terry gave her a goofy smile.

“At a time like this you’re going to bring out that horny grin of yours?”

“I’m only a man.”

“Uh huh, that’s your excuse for everything.”  She paused, studying the backsplash and the floor around the victim, looking for any cast off blood spatters that could have come from the weapon.  “She was standing in front of the sink taking a drink when her killer came up from behind.  He would have wrapped his arm around her, to hold her steady, as he ran the knife across her throat.”  Madison acted it out.  “Looks like it went right to left.”  She swallowed hard.  Periodically the smell of the blood hit in intensive waves equal in scale to tsunamis.

Tell us about your current release.

Sacrifice is the third in the Madison Knight series and follows Justified.  Although, please note the series is designed as stand alone.  This means you can read these books out of order and still pick up on the series' characters and storyline.

The series follows Major Crimes Detective Madison Knight.  She is fueled by determination to find justice for the victims and is a strong, independent female amidst a career dominated by men.  If you love a female protagonist lead, I invite you to meet Madison for yourself.

In Sacrifice, Madison must risk all, including her career, to bring a killer to justice. 

Book blurb for Sacrifice:

When the son of business tycoon Marcus Randall, washes up on the shore of the Bradshaw River, Detective Madison Knight must sacrifice everything—including her career—to find justice for the “perfect murder”.

With Marcus Randall already on the radar of the Secret Service for fraud and counterfeiting, the investigation sheds new light and they require the full co-operation of the Stiles PD. But with power and money to back him, Marcus has a reach that extends right inside the police department. 

If Madison's going to find out the truth, she'll have to sort through the lies and balance diplomacy with politics. 

For more information, including an excerpt, please visit: 

How do you describe your writing style?

Readers have compared my writing style to JD Robb’s “In Death” series, Mary Higgins Clark and Janet Evanovich.  Others have compared the Madison Knight series to the Women's Murder Clun series, Kathy Reichs, and Alexandra Cooper.  Mention has also been made of Tami Hoag and Tess Gerritsen.

What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?

Determination and a drive to see projects through.  If you don’t have persistence, despite discouragement, a writer will not be successful.

Also, a writer needs to let their imagination have free reign without limiting it with judgment.  Analyzing comes during the editing phase; first drafts should be fun.

Another important characteristic is also knowing when to let go and just live life.  Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t people-watch in there.

Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words.

Rewarding.  Inspiring.  Laborious.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

While I’d personally love to go to Australia, the characters in a current writing project would have me going to New York City.

Entice us, what future projects are you considering?

Honestly, while I love writing the crime genre and that will never change, I’m dabbling a bit in women’s fiction right now.  I’m writing a story called Hart’s Choice, which originally was going to be a short.  But the word count has pushed it past this definition, and I have yet to know for certain whether it will grow in length to the point of a novella or full-length novel.

One thing I do know is all proceeds from the sale of this publication (once available) will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Society in memoriam of my father-in-law.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

Just the ability to explore other worlds and to meet new people.  Non-writers may find this thought funny, but our characters even take us on a journey.  They open us up to new things and teach us lessons.  Like relationships with real people, solid characters have a way of touching our soul.

Carolyn Arnold is the author of several novels in various genres. Her mystery novels Ties That Bind and Justified have reached best seller status on Amazon United States for Kindle. Her FBI thriller Eleven released November 2011 made it on The Miami Books Examiner's 'Top 12 Fiction Books of 2011' list.

She was born in 1976 in a rural town of Ontario, Canada. She currently lives with her husband, and two beagles in a city near the well-known Canadian center Toronto.

Most Recent Release:

Sacrifice, the third installment of the Madison Knight series.


In celebrating the release of Sacrifice, the 3rd in the Madison Knight series, save on Ties That Bind (A Madison Knight Novel) and FBI Thriller Eleven for the month of August!
For the latest news on upcoming releases, please visit:

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