Kristi Belcamino is a DSD alum, an author extraordinaire and one of my best friends. I’m thrilled to have her back today to talk a little about her newest novel, which goes on sale Tuesday. Stick around for the end – and a sneak peek at the first chapter.
Thanks for having me back on Do Some Damage!
After writing a few crime fiction books from first person, I decided to attempt a different type of book—third person and with multiple points of view.
I’d already written six books so it should’ve been a piece of cake, right?
Not even close.
It was torture. It didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t know how to write multiple viewpoint. And I sure as hell didn’t know how to write in third person.
It was one of those books that made me doubt I should ever write another word again. But it was also one of those books I had to write. I had to get the story out of my head. What happened after that was out of my hands.
It took six revisions and a few left turns, but I did finish the book and am proud of the result.
Early readers have called it my best book yet. If I’m really lucky, others might feel the same.
I hope you like it.
Here is a sneak peek:
April 20, 2017
At first, Timothy McDonald thought he was seeing things. His truck jerked over the potholes, making his headlights bounce erratically, distorting once familiar shapes and shadows. A thick line of trees bordered the old logging road, blocking out the sunrise to the east.
He swiped a beefy hand across his eyes and turned down the thrashing guitar riffs blaring from his speakers as if that’d help him see more clearly. It’d been a long night what with Sandra showing up sloshed, hauling him out of bed for another round of Jack Daniels. He’d offered a feeble protest, but her dimples won him over the same way they did twenty years ago at Sanctuary High School.
As his rusted-out 1986 Ford Ranger slowed, Timothy knew it wasn’t lack of sleep causing hallucinations—there was something crawling on the side of the road, dragging across the pine needles.
He slammed on the brakes, skidding to a stop.
A pale arm rose from the pile of flesh.
Timothy leapt out of his Ford and was nearly on top of the small form when he drew up short. He yanked off his John Deere tractor hat, tore at his hair, and bellowed into the dark. “Jesus Christ. It’s a goddamn little kid.”
He knelt down. It was a girl, maybe his niece Jeannie’s age, stuck somewhere between a child and a teenager. Other than that, he couldn’t tell anything about her except she had long hair matted with blood. Her head was turned toward him, resting on her arm. His fingers trembled as he lifted a sticky clump of bloody hair away from her face, revealing a large brown eye. His body heaved with relief when a small sound, barely a sigh, emerged from her tiny mouth.
He fumbled for his cell phone before he realized he’d left it in the truck.
“Hang in there. I’m gonna get help.”
Panic flashed across the brown eye and a small sound bubbled out of her mouth. He squeezed her hand softly.
“I won’t leave you. I promise. I’ll be right back.” He tried to sound reassuring.
He raced to the truck. It took three tries for his fingers to stab the right numbers.
“Holy Christ, this is so bad,” he said when 911 answered. “Got a little girl up here on Old Courtemanche Road by Whiskey Flats, just come crawling out of the woods and she’s hurt bad, real bad.”
“What's the nature of her injuries?” The dispatcher sounded bored.
Timothy glanced over at the girl lit up in the halo of his headlights. She hadn’t moved.
“She’s bleeding something fierce. Everywhere. Like a goddamned horror movie. Get someone up here fast. Please. Goddammit, quit asking me questions and get someone up here now.”
March 10, 2017
Roll call tonight was excruciating. Officer Maggie Bychowski felt the glares like small pinpricks piercing her back.
Based on the mumbled insults drifting her way, she wondered if a Sanctuary Police Officer had ever been more despised. Rookie. Boot. Newbie. Lesbian. Cunt.
The words, combined with the overpowering smell of cigarettes and aftershave from the next guy over, sent a wave of revulsion through her.
Maggie shut her eyes for a second. If she could only take a little nap. Just a tiny one. A catnap. Like Yoko Ono and John Lennon used to take. For fifteen minutes. If she did that, she could make it through the rest of the day on the three hours of sleep under her belt. She could park her squad on some shady abandoned street, put her sunglasses on and nap for a few minutes.
Somebody nudged her and her eyes flew open. It was Hendricks, the closest thing to a friend she had in this town. He didn’t look her way, keeping his eyes trained on the lieutenant, but he gave a slow wink. Those eyelashes were such a waste on a man. But Hendricks knew how to work them like nobody’s business.
She thrust her bony shoulders back and stood ramrod straight, pulling herself up to her full five-foot-eight inches. If she showed even a sliver of weakness, she was done for.
Thinking of the stack of overdue bills on her kitchen table, Maggie squeezed her hands into tight fists at her side and pressed her lips together. They could call her all the names they wanted. She’d put up with it all so her daughter could live in the clean, cozy—and safe—care home down the ridge in Apple Valley. Physically, Melody couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, and didn’t seem to notice whether her mother came to the care home every other day or once a month. But she was safe there. And Maggie would do anything to keep her daughter safe. Even if it meant eating ramen every night to pay the bills.
Six months ago, finding this job so close to the care home had seemed like a Godsend. Too bad nobody warned her when she joined the force that she’d be dealing with backward hick bigot cops who got away with the kind of immoral, unprofessional— hell, probably illegal—shit she’d already seen in her few short months with the department.
The lieutenant in the front of the room droned on: another string of car burglaries along Vista Drive; an abandoned meth lab found in the canyon down by Little Falls; and St. Mary’s annual spaghetti dinner was tonight so officers should try to stop in and say hello.
Maggie had taken a spot in the back of the room—to be near Hendricks, but also a strategic move to make a quick exit. It was only when roll call was nearly over that she remembered rookies were supposed to be in the front row. Tomorrow she’d stand front and center.
As soon as the lieutenant finished reading the reports, Maggie was out the door toward the parking lot. Her squad, number 320, was the oldest car in the fleet. And for some reason—surprise, surprise—she was assigned this vehicle every shift. She’d bought half a dozen coconut tree deodorizers, but still occasionally caught a whiff of the sweat and vomit that had permanently seeped into the holding pen of a backseat. She suspected the squad sat empty on the days she didn’t work.
By the time she checked the headlights, siren, emergency lights, and computer, several other officers had trickled into the parking lot. Most officers skipped the required vehicle safety checks and took off, probably heading toward the nearest donut drive-through.
But today three of them remained, clustered by a red mustang, talking in low voices, one guy spitting an ugly stream of chewing tobacco her way every once in a while. Although she was pretending not to pay attention, Maggie slid her eyes their way. They were all in plain clothes. Off duty.
After she couldn’t put it off any longer, she popped the squad’s trunk, reluctantly turning her back to the men’s sneers. Even though she’d worked yesterday and been assigned this same squad, somehow the first aid kit, crime scene tape, fire extinguisher, and road flares that were supposed to be in the trunk were gone.
It meant she had to walk past the group and back into the station to stock her vehicle. She slipped on her sunglasses before heading their way.
To her dismay, as she grew closer to the men, her heart hammered and her palms grew slick. So far, they’d never said anything to her directly. It had always been the same passive-aggressive bullshit whispers she’d heard during roll call. But she had a feeling that was all going to end now.
Want to read more? The book comes out Feb. 20. If you think you might want to check it out, the special 99 cents pre-order/launch price won’t last long.