Almost Paradise (2011)
About the Book: Mail carrier Louise came to Oahu to start over. In the comfortable life she has built for herself, there are no surprises. She likes it that way. One day, while delivering the mail, Louise notices something wrong. One of her elderly customers, Mrs. Santos, is missing. Mrs. Santos lives alone and has no close family or friends. Even after Louise alerts the police, she can’t stop worrying. Has Mrs. Santos fallen? Is she suffering from amnesia? Was she assaulted while walking to the store? Louise can’t sit back and wait for the police to do their job. She sets out to find Mrs. Santos, and a bizarre series of events begins to unfold. Louise’s peaceful existence and anonymity are shattered, and she is forced to draw on strengths she didn’t know she had, to stay one step ahead of disaster.
Laurie says, “Even before I started my career with the Honolulu Post Office, I noticed that mail carriers move about almost invisibly. They become part of the scenery, allowing them to observe the community without being observed themselves. An avid reader of mysteries since childhood, I thought it would be fun to write a series of mysteries with a mail carrier as the protagonist.” ALMOST PARADISE is the first of the series.
About the Author: Laurie grew up in the picturesque islands of the South Pacific. Her father pioneered air travel to many of the tiny islands, and Laurie often accompanied him on his flights. After high school, she moved Seattle to study photography and dance. While there, she discovered an interest in Jewish Studies, Hebrew, and Middle Eastern dance. She went to Israel to pursue these subjects, earning her keep by working in the cotton fields of the Jezreel Valley. On a second trip to Israel, she met the love of her life. They eloped and were married in Cyprus. Laurie and her husband spent time exploring the Far East, before settling in Hawaii. Laurie had a career with the Postal Service, and raised three children. For eighteen years she taught Middle Eastern dance and led a performing dance troupe. When she isn’t writing her Louise Golden mystery series, she works to promote animal rights and rescue, and practices yoga, meditation, and qi gong. Laurie currently lives on Oahu with her husband and two youngest children. Visit the author’s website at http://www.wix.com/lauriehanan/laurie-hanan
A Customer Review: Almost Paradise took me by surprise. The unorthodox heroine, a mail carrier in Hawaii, gets involved in a missing persons case. Louise is not the ever-confident and totally competent sleuth. In fact she is trying to live a uneventful, low-commitment life, when her concern for an elderly lady on her delivery route pulls her into a mystery with abductions, car tails, a celebrity pool party, exotic dancing, smuggling of artifacts, and of course, murder. The writing is very smooth and is a fast read, with enough detail to get views of the different cultural and scenic backdrops of Hawaii. It's not all picture-postcard perfect and tranquil days at the beach. In fact when things settle down and Louise slips into a hot shower, the last pieces of the puzzle fall into place. There's a final twist and a steamy shower fight scene that would make great cinema. This is a good read if you like mystery/thrillers with an everywoman protagonist.
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Author of fun Hawaiian mysteries
How Far Is Heaven?
Another Day in Paradise (coming December 2012)
West of the Equator blog
The fall rains of 1857 pound the western Illinois prairie. Rain pours from the brim of Hanson's hat as he slowly plods forward. Previously informed of a ford in the river he follows the directions along the steam south to locate the ford. The river is swollen and swift as Hanson peers intently for any sign of a place to ford the river. Suddenly, just over the roar of the water, he hears a voice call out,
"Help! Help!" the urgent cry comes from the river.
Sitting up in the saddle to gain a better view, Hanson scans the waters hoping to see who is calling for help. He sees an arm wave then disappear below the waters. Spurring his horse, he speeds to the embankment and calls out,
"Hello! Where are you?"
"Here! Help," the voice cries out again as it recedes away swiftly.
Hanson sees a man clinging desperately to a log hurtling downstream, pushed by the swift waters. He turns his horse and speeds south, determined to get ahead of the man on the log. Seeing the sign "Ford Area," he turns his mount into the water. The water is less powerful in this section as much of it becomes an underground river, emerging a half-mile below the ford again becoming the deep, swift current embracing the hapless traveler hugging the log.
"Here!" Hanson shouts to get the man's attention. The man looks up and then Hanson throws a rope in his direction that the man catches. Hanson wraps the rope around his arm several times and pulls as the man seizes the lifeline. The horse fights against the charging current, which although diminished still has great force. Up the far side of the embankment they race, pulling the man from the current and onto the shore.
"Are you okay?" Hanson asks as he dismounts.
"Thanks to the Lord and the angel he sent to save me!" The man says looking up coughing water from his lungs.
Hanson notices to his surprise that the traveler is Indian, although dressed as a white man. Hanson also notes he refers to "the Lord" rather than "Great Spirit" as he kneels next to the man while the rain continues to pelt down.
"I am Chief Wakoa of the Muscatine." The rescued traveler coughs more water out. "I thought to make the northern ford, but the water too swift. I lost … horse … wagon … They went away," he points weakly downstream.
"You speak very good English, Chief. My name is Hanson," Hanson says.
"Yes. I am Christian. My minister and his wife have spend many hours teaching me English good." His English slips as he speaks this time, as he continues to cough.
"They are to be commended," declares Hanson, patting him on the back.
"They are not far from here. I will go there. They can help me."
"I will help you get there Chief, Lord willing."
Here is my first excerpt.
By Laurie Hanan
274 pp 9” x 6”
"Mrs. Santos? Mrs. Santos?"
There was no response.
"It's Louise, your mail carrier. I have your mail."
Mrs. Santos was hard of hearing. Maybe she hadn't heard my knock
over the sound of the rain. I knocked again, harder this time, and waited.
I tried the doorknob. It was unlocked. The old door, swollen from
humidity, complained with a loud creak when I pushed it. Just inside the
door, Pipsqueak looked up at me. Her tail thumped against the floor. She was
the only dog on my route who never barked at me. She didn't bark now, even
when I stepped into the house.
The first thing I noticed was the smell. Unwashed dog and…something
I couldn't place. I waited while my eyes adjusted to the dim light.
Almost Paradise (2011)
A radial engine seaplane banked over the Gulf of Mexico, early morning sunlight reflecting on the cockpit windows as the aircraft straightened direction for its approach. It swayed slightly in a light crosswind before touching down, its pontoons making a graceful feather of white on the blue-green lagoon. The engine throttled back, the sudden snarl startling a flock of flamingos from their wading and feeding to take flight, their outstretched necks resembling a squadron of supersonic transports.
The pilot made a wide, arcing turn, moving in close to a white, fine-grained beach. Big Pine Key was one of many in the chain stretching from Key Largo to Key West.
Palm trees crowded down to the sea, bright tropical flowers belied it was autumn in the Florida Keys. Before the propeller stopped, an inflatable Zodiac put out from the shore, its blunt nose curving upward, thrust forward by powerful twin outboards as it closed in on the seaplane.
A door in the plane's fuselage swung open and a powerfully built man with a strong face, a mass of red, unruly hair and dressed in a black jumpsuit waved toward the Zodiac that came alongside. The redhead, Rodney Eiker, a hard-boiled British soldier of fortune, sloshed gum from one side of his mouth to the other, chewing furiously, snapping and crackling it.
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