Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dead Like Me by Kelly Miller: Character Interview and Excerpt



Kelly Miller – Author of Dead Like Me
Interviews the protagonist,
Homicide Detective Kate Springer


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to fight for the little guy, for those who didn’t have a voice. Combine that with my strong sense of right and wrong and I guess it was inevitable I ended up in law enforcement. When I transferred to Tampa, I worked my ass off to make detective. Now that I’m in the homicide department, every day I’m battling for those who’ve had their voices prematurely silenced.
What are your favorite TV shows?
I’m a sucker for COPS. When I’m flipping through the channels and I hear that theme song, “Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do, watcha gonna do when they come for you,” I swear my pulse begins to race. It’s nothing like those ridiculous crime dramas where the detectives catch the criminal in under an hour. You wouldn’t believe the impact that show CSI has had on juries hearing my cases. They think if there’s no DNA evidence the perp’s innocent.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I like to take out my aggression on the gun range. If that doesn’t give me the release I’m looking for, I’ll head over to the gym and hit the punching bag. If that doesn’t do it, I’ll get into the ring and spar. Last resort—I’ll pick up a guy and take out all my aggression on him.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
I’m more the type to hold a grudge. The better question would be “Who owes me an apology?”

Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?
I’m definitely a night person. I can work a crime scene all night long but get me up before the rays peek through my window shade and I’m a bear. At least until I’ve had my morning Coke. Coffee? Can’t stand the stuff. Although truth be told, I’ve never gotten over the rancid smell long enough to even try a sip.

What would we find under your bed? 
Dust dogs. Normal people have dust bunnies under their beds. Not much of a housekeeper so mine are bigger and meaner.

What makes you happy?
Seems to me that’s such a fleeting emotion. Unattainable for any length of time. So many people pretend to be happy, pasting a smile on their faces just for nicety sake. The best I hope for on a daily basis is contentment.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I have a rough exterior but inside I’m a mushy ball of goo. I don’t let many people in to see that part of me, but if you’re one of the lucky few, I’ll fight to the death for you. I’m loyal above all else.


On edge after a two-week mandatory leave, Detective Kate Springer is blindsided when she discovers she shares a link with Tampa's newest murder victim-a troubled teen found strangled and dumped in a remote part of town. The bond between them threatens to expose Detective Springer's past-a past she's been hell bent on keeping secret. When the killer finally emerges from the shadows, Kate's secrets aren't the only thing on the line. So is her life.


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Chapter 1

Taking a deep breath, I ducked under the yellow crime scene tape strung between two ancient oaks. Early this morning a call came in from Thonotosassa, a small city bordering Tampa on the northeast side. Just on the fringe of our jurisdiction. Apparently, a neighbor walking his dog had discovered the body of a young Caucasian female.
Following the dirt driveway, I arrived at a vacant, single-story house. Scratch that. Make that a rotting, vacant house. The weather's so different in Florida compared to where I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Up north the drastic temperature changes make paint peel away from the houses. Down here, the paint stays intact, but left unchecked a black mold can devour a home. The end result was a place looking like the one in front of me—as if some disease ate away at it from the inside out. I estimated the house stood on two acres of land. Although there were neighbors on either side of the property, the trees surrounding it gave it a secluded feel.
            “Welcome back, Detective Springer,” a chipper voice called from behind me.
Looking over my shoulder, I saw my partner of two years, jogging to catch up.
            “Yeah. Great welcome present. You really shouldn't have.” Snapping on my latex gloves, I wondered how much worse this day could get.
“Glad to see the shrink cleared you for duty.”
“Finished my last session this morning.” I assumed Dr. Grace would authorize my return to work today, but I’d stormed out of her office before I could work out the details. “A case is just what I need. Maybe I’ll finally be able to work the smell of bleach off my hands. I don't think my bathtub can survive my staying home one more day.”
Detective Patrick Jessup chuckled and flashed a boyish grin. Probably trying to envision a domestic Kate Springer.
I hit the lottery in partner assignments. When I moved to Tampa, it took seven years of busting my ass before I saw a promotion. There were plenty of detectives who didn't want a woman watching their back. Patrick wasn't one of them. He had six sisters and often joked he was most comfortable in a room full of estrogen.
            At thirty-five, Patrick still had that “all-American” boy next door look. His unassuming presence lent itself well to his profession. On more than one occasion, perps had underestimated Detective Jessup only to find themselves caged behind two-inch steel bars. With his good looks and chiseled physique, I used to tease he was probably the high school quarterback who married the prom queen. Got it half right. He was a star ball player at the University of South Florida until a defensive end cut his career short with a blitz that shattered his right kneecap.
            It sounded like all the action was at the back of the property. Patrick and I walked around the house to the rear tree line where crime scene tech Lucy James was hunched over photographing a small mound. It was partially covered with sticks, brush, and decomposing leaves.
            “A neighbor found the body before work this morning,” Lucy said. “Actually, his dog is the one who found it.”
            Lucy stepped back and lowered her camera. I squatted to get a closer look. The leaves surrounding the girl’s right arm had been trampled. Her right hand lay exposed, palm side up. Her wrist revealed a jagged double heart-shaped birthmark. Teeth marks surrounded her thumb, likely made by the dog who found her. With all the barking I'd heard since I arrived, I was surprised a whole pack of mutts hadn't sniffed the body out.
            The stench of death smacked me full in the face as the wind suddenly shifted. After all these years, I still hadn’t become accustomed to the smell. It was like taking a whiff from a partially sealed milk jug, one sitting outside in the direct sunlight for two weeks. 
            Lucy knelt beside me, bagging debris that would later be tested for trace evidence. Most of the leaves on and surrounding the face had been scattered from either the wind or the dog. I could tell the victim was female, but I waited for Lucy to finish gathering the last few stray pieces before the girl’s features could be seen.
            Stifling a quick gasp with a fake cough, I lurched up and stepped away. “Sorry . . . I don’t want to contaminate  . . . the evidence.” It was a weak excuse but all I could come up with.
            After steadying myself, I glanced over my shoulder to make sure I'd seen correctly. Lying on the ground, face towards the sky was me at the age of thirteen.


Kelly Miller lives in Tampa, Florida where her novel is set. She’s married, has three children, and a black Labrador. Kelly is a member of the Florida Writer’s Association. Her debut novel, Dead Like Me, won second place in the best mystery category of the 2011 FWA Royal Palm Literary Awards Competition.

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Enter for a chance to win a Print copy of  Dead Like Me.
Open to US shipping.


MattnLinda99 said...

I used to watch a tv series by the same name!

Kelly Miller said...

Yes, it was a short lived, two season television show that still has quite a cult following. I liked Mandy Patinkin in it. My novel has nothing to do with the television show but you'll understand the meaning of the title when you read the book. :) Enjoy!

Denise Z said...

I cannot wait to meet Kate. Thank you for sharing with us, I enjoyed the excerpt and really want to know more.

Tina Kohrman said...

Thanks for sharing this excerpt now i really want to read this book. Sounds like a great read. Thanks again.

Leslie Miner said...

This sounds like a page turning, nail bitter. :) Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

Emi Lia said...

Dead like me sounds awesome! I used to love the TV shows too, lol. Thanks for the giveaway


I love books and now I found a new author site

Kristen Heyl said...

Sounds like a great book that I will be adding to my TBR list.Thanks for the opportunity to win it.

Michelle Lewis said...

Hi! Thank you for the Giveaway and for the chance to win. Good Luck to everyone.. :)