Title: FRIGHT ON!
Word Count: 106,000
Psychologist Kendra Madison is a fifty-something-going-on-thirty empty nester who’s decided her life needs fixing, convinced it would be perfect if only she had an exciting career, a better relationship, and straighter hair. She’s ready to launch a new venture as a badass crime author, and signs up to volunteer with the LAPD to help crime scene victims, figuring it’s easier than taming her hothead husband Mark Granger, a USC architecture dean—or her frizzy curls. But when Granger is implicated in the murder of one USC dean and then another, Madison trades writing mysteries for solving them. She embarks on a quest to prove Granger’s innocence—all the while wondering—what if he’s really guilty?
Someone is targeting USC Trojans but the cops get a break when a mysterious tipster points the finger at Granger. Madison wants to know who’s trash-talking her husband and why. There’s a steroid scandal, a love triangle, and a Yorkie with a stiffy, but the more Madison finds out, the more she realizes that nothing is what it appears to be, including Granger. Meanwhile, a pesky stalker has Madison shivering in her Uggs. The rumors threaten to rock the USC campus, but the truth might be worse. Hanging in the balance are Granger’s freedom, the fate of their marriage, and Madison’s own life, and worst of all—the safety of her younger daughter, a USC sophomore.
Set in Los Angeles, FRIGHT ON! features Kendra Madison, a feisty Bridget Jones meets Jessica Fletcher (MURDER, SHE WROTE) pun-loving boomer who uses psychology and Google searches to find a killer and, along the way, finds herself.
Like Kendra Madison, I’m a PhD psychologist with an insider’s perspective on USC. As a former academic and ghostwriter for a litigation consulting firm, I’ve published in psychology journals and legal magazines. I honed my mystery writing skills by taking courses in the Writers’ Program through UCLA Extension. I am working on a second academic intrigue in the PAC-12 MYSTERY SERIES (TROUBLE BRUIN) set on the campus of UCLA, USC’s cross-town rival.
The Santa Ana winds were coming. Drought-plagued Los Angeles was a giant wildfire waiting to happen and I was afraid the dry heat might trigger an earthquake, one of my worst fears—the dreaded Shake and Bake. A possibility I kept trying to block out of my head with happier thoughts as I sat at my computer. Like how the low humidity meant it would be a good hair day.
But an earthquake wasn’t the only thing that had me quaking in my Uggs. I’d turned down the air conditioning and the whole house felt like a walk-in freezer. I could have stored meat in any room. Except for the one that mattered most. The un-air-conditioned porch my husband, Mark Granger, had converted into his home office. On days like this it heated up like a pressure cooker. By now I guessed he was stewing like a fricasseed chicken. Sooner or later he was going to blow. The big question was when.
It wasn’t long before I got my answer.
I flinched. Mark’s tantrums were a bad habit he used all his life to get his way. He could be quite charming when he wanted to, so everyone tolerated his frequent outbursts. But like nitroglycerin, it didn’t take much to set him off.
I tiptoed from my office and went to peek at him through the French doors connecting our dining room to his office. He was rummaging through papers on his desk, pulling out drawers and knocking over piles of folders on his drafting table.