About My Books

Lies Agreed Upon

  

After losing her job and her lover, Tess Parnell hopes her luck has changed when she is contacted about a surprise Louisiana inheritance. Excitement turns to shock, however, when she realizes her family has hidden their New Orleans history, including her grandfather's murder and a possible link to her mother’s suicide. Tess heads to New Orleans to cash in on her inheritance, explore her newfound roots, and learn the reasons for her family's lies. Sifting through memories and legends, she begins to trace her Creole heritage from a haunted plantation to bayou tragedies and bitter vendettas. Tess is determined to uncover the family secrets that may have warped her mother's life and her own childhood. When Tess unwittingly rouses vengeful forces from a dark New Orleans past, her fight for the truth suddenly becomes a fight for her life.

The Cruelest Lies (coming soon)

  

At the conclusion of Lies Agreed Upon, protagonist Tess Parnell had come a long way in her personal development. In my next mystery, The Cruelest Lies, Tess is in a committed relationship but her boyfriend has temporarily left New Orleans for Washington, D.C. She joins him for a brief reunion that she hopes will keep their long-distance romance on track. Without work to keep her busy during her visit, Tess has time to observe the neighborhood from the eerie old Victorian house that her boyfriend has rented in a Virginia suburb. As Halloween approaches and families decorate with fake horror, Tess is concerned by unsettling local history and recent disturbing incidents. Then the little girl next door vanishes while trick-or-treating, and it's not the first time a local child has gone missing; a little girl living in Tess's gloomy VIctorian disappeared decades earlier. Tess begins to suspect that the worst monsters lie close to home. 

Reviews

Check out Kirkus Reviews' comments and Amazon readers' posts about Lies Agreed Upon.

Book Club Discussion Questions

For Lies Agreed Upon

  1. Tess’s mother haunts Tess, and trying to come to terms with her mother’s inexplicable suicide is an important motivator of Tess’s desire to understand her family’s past.  How did Joanne Parnell’s childhood trauma affect her character, and as a result Tess’s development? Does it help Tess to find out the truth of her mother’s life and death?

    2. Many characters shift between sympathetic and unsympathetic as Tess explores the past from different viewpoints. What do you believe are the true motives behind the fateful decisions of Josephine Chastant, Benjamin Cabrera, Solange Beauvoir, Thérèse Cabrera, Elaine Donovan, Bea Cabrera and Guy Cabrera?

    ​3. Old sins cast long shadows, yet many past crimes and cruelties have gone unpunished. Even if never legally prosecuted or publicly shamed, did some characters pay for their misdeeds in other ways?

    4. What were Sam Beauvoir’s true feelings about the Beauvoirs’ relationship with the Cabreras?

    5. Tess is attracted to several young men she meets in New Orleans, while still carrying a torch for her ex-boyfriend.  Of the romantic potentials (Mac, Jon, Remy, Tony, and Joel) which, if any, do you think would be a good match for Tess? Consider both the self-effacing Tess who comes to New Orleans and the more confident young woman at the end of the book.

    6. Who, or what, was the driving passion in Phil Dreux’s life?

    7. Many of the characters are flawed, but the society in which they lived also played a part in their mistakes. What are the inequities of race, gender and social background that result in tragedy in the story?

    8. Tess relies on her girlfriends for support and downplays her own allure and strength of character as the novel begins. How do you think she has changed at the end?

    ​9. How did Tess try to bring justice to the many victims of her family’s past? Did she succeed?

    ​10. The New Orleans location plays a pivotal role in the book. Could the same story be placed elsewhere? Which themes are universal and which draw specifically on the Southern or New Orleans background?