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Saturday 14 November 2015

☀ River of Glass: Jared McKean Mysteries [3] - Jaden Terrell

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for River of Glass, a Mystery Thriller by (, The Permanent Press, 271 pages).

This is the third book in the Jared McKean Mysteries series.

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below, as well as our Q&A with author Jaden Terrell.   Read the Prologue and the first chapter with Amazon Look Inside.

Synopsis | Teaser | The Series | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops


Nashville private detective Jared McKean has spent most of his thirty-six years trying to live up to the memory of the father he barely knew.

One day, the body of a young Vietnamese woman is found in Jared's office dumpster clutching a yellowed photo of Jared's father. Then a few days later, another Vietnamese woman, Khanh, appears on Jared's doorstep claiming to be his half-sister and begging him to help find her missing daughter, Tuyet. Still reeling from the revelation of his father's secret life, Jared reluctantly agrees.

It's clear that Tuyet's path must have crossed the dead girl's, but when and how? While the police have their hands full with a renegade bomber, Jared and Khanh form an uneasy alliance, following the trail into the violent world of human trafficking - a world that few who enter ever leave.

Teaser: Excerpt


The girl called Worm wrapped her arms around her knees and shivered, listening to the storm. Wind shuddered the walls of the shed and whistled through the cracks. Rain hammered on the metal roof and seeped in through the seams where the steel walls met the concrete floor.
      In another life, she had been Tuyet, and she clung to the name now, lips moving in a silent recitation: My name is Tuyet. No matter what they call me, I will always be Tuyet.
      She blew on her hands to warm them, then rubbed her upper arms. Her nylon slip shifted, clammy against her skin.
      From a window in the ceiling, too high for her or the other women to reach, a wash of sooty light spread downward and was swallowed by shadows. The glass was gray with night and rain, but if she squinted, she could make out the others in the dim light. She would have known them even without the light—by their shapes and by their voices, even by their smells. Fear and self-preservation might turn them against each other in time, but for now, this dank shed that smelled of sweat and shit and sex had made them sisters.
      The youngest and newest, a Chinese girl known only as Grub pressed her forehead against the shoulder of a young Japanese woman called Maggot. Maggot, who had suffered a beating for sharing that her true name was Hong, wrapped an arm around the younger girl and rocked her as if she were a small child. The gesture made Tuyet think of her mother, and that made her chest tighten and her eyes burn.
      She closed her eyes and let herself feel the touch of her mother’s hand on her cheek, let herself remember the smell of her grandmother’s coffee shop and the taste of pho soup—the savory broth, the tang of fish paste. She gave herself a few minutes to remember that other life. Then she pushed the thoughts away. A little memory could give you courage. Too much could make you weak.
      A Thai girl with barbed-wire tattooed around her neck ran her fingers around the rim of her plastic dinner bowl as if a grain of rice or a sliver of fish might, by some miracle, have appeared there. She was called Weasel, and while she too must have had another name, Tuyet had never heard it.
      A crash of thunder rattled the walls. Weasel moaned and pounded her thin mattress. Grub pressed her face to Hong’s shoulder and whimpered like a child. Someone groped in the shadows for the chamber pot, and a few moments later, the air grew sharp with the smell of urine.
      Weasel coughed. Hong began to hum. There was a lightness in the room that came, not from the rain, but because of it.
      The men would not come out in this weather.
      Hands outstretched, Tuyet made her way to the back corner of the shed. The rain had seeped in, and a puddle of rainwater chilled her bare feet. Where the two walls met the floor, there was a small gap. If she put her face close to it, she could smell the outdoors. She knelt on the damp concrete and sucked in the smells of earth and rain, then laid her palm flat against the metal and pressed hard. With a tiny shriek, the gap widened. Moonlight and rainwater poured in.
      “You make trouble,” a reedy voice behind her said in fractured English. Tuyet looked up to see a flat-faced Thai girl called Beetle, arms crossed, legs splayed. Like Hong and Weasel, Beetle knew even less Vietnamese than she did English, so by default, English was the language they used among each other. “Boss man catch you, he make everybody unhappy.”
      A few feet away, a Vietnamese girl called Dung huddled on her filthy mattress, scrawny arms curled around her stomach. Her magenta hair, now black at the roots, hid most of her bruised and swollen face. She was the smallest of them, but she had fought the hardest and the longest. Just this morning, she had raked her nails across the boss man’s neck and, without even flinching, he had caught her hand and snapped two of her fingers. The broken fingers and the bruises were partly punishment and partly an example for the rest of them: See what happens when you disobey?
      Tuyet thought they would kill the girl soon. Or maybe she would kill herself. Surely no one could take so much abuse for so long. The girl’s eyes, fixed on the gap in the wall, shone in the dim light.
      Tuyet said, “He make everybody unhappy anyway.” She pushed again, and more water washed through. Did they have monsoon season in America? If it rained like this for weeks, would the men stay away? How long before, half-starved, she and the other women fell on each other? As much as she hated the men, she hated her dependence on them more. “Anyway, I only looking. See what see.”
      “See nothing,” Beetle said. “Nobody get through there. Even if can, too sharp glass, too high wall. Too many ghost.”
      Tuyet shivered. She had never seen the shallow graves behind the shed, but she knew from the fear in the long-timers’ eyes that they were there. “I know. But maybe. . .”
      “You think maybe hope? Is no hope. You go sleep now, forget this foolish.” Beetle stomped back to her own mattress, her lips a thin line in her flat face.
      Tuyet looked back at the gap. Forget this foolish.
      Another flash of lightning lit the room. Then a loud crack, followed by the sounds of breaking wood and the crunch of glass. Tuyet lay down on her stomach, heedless of the water soaking through her slip, chilling her breasts. She pressed the wall outward with her palm and peered out through the gap.
      Rain pelted her face and chilled her skin, but she didn’t care. She would never get her fill of that smell.
      Across the grass, rain sparkled on a river of shattered glass. Beyond that stood a high stone wall, also topped with glass, if the long-timers told the truth. But who would know? Who could cross the river of shards to find out?
      Tuyet blinked. Wiped rainwater from her eyes and looked again. A tree, split by lightning, lay across the wall, its trunk and branches making a bridge across the glass. Only four or five feet separated the trunk from the grassy turf. Four or five feet across the shards. It would hurt, it would hurt a lot, but it could be done.
      She looked over at Dung. The smallest of them.
      Tuyet climbed to her feet and brushed water and grime from the front of her slip. Then she pressed her shoulder against the wall and pushed as hard as she could. The metal squealed. The gap widened.
      Beetle looked up and wailed.
      Shoulder still pressed to the wall, Tuyet gestured for the other women to help. She explained about the fallen tree, that there was a way out.
      Beetle moaned. “They catch us.”
      “No one come tonight. Too much storm. We hurry, have plenty time.”
      Hong looked pointedly away, then buried her face between Grub’s shoulder blades. Beetle covered her face with her arms and keened, while Weasel turned her back and lay down on her mattress. The others were as still as stone.
      “I do it myself,” Tuyet said. She pushed, pushed harder. The gap widened to the size of a pumpkin, then held. Was it enough? She had lost weight since she’d been here. If the gap would stay open . . .
      She shifted her weight backward, and the metal popped back into place, just a small gap at the bottom.
      She pushed again. Pushed until her muscles trembled and sweat popped out on her upper lip. She pushed until her shoulders ached and her eyes stung and her breath came in ragged gasps and whimpers. She pounded a fist against the ungiving metal, then flung herself against it.
      Again. And again. Until she had no more strength. Panting, she laid her cheek against the cool metal.
      “Please,” she whispered. She turned her face toward her sisters and made her voice louder. “Please.”
      No one moved. Fear held them in place, and how could she blame them? There had been so many tricks, so many false hopes offered and then snatched away. But not even the boss man could call lightning from the sky.
      No, God or her ancestors, or whatever benevolent spirits there were, had given her this one small chance. She would not let her sisters’ fear steal it from her.
      She looked at Dung.
      Dung blinked.
      “You can do it,” Tuyet whispered. “Only you.”
      “They kill you,” Beetle said, from across the shed. “They kill you both. Then kill rest of us.”
      Tuyet said, “They kill us anyway.” She looked back at Dung. “But I think they kill you first.”
      Dung looked at the gap in the corner. Such a small gap. Tuyet knew what Dung was thinking—what she herself would be thinking, in Dung’s place. What if Tuyet had exhausted herself and the gap closed before Dung was through? The metal was heavy, the edge sharp. Would it slice through a leg? A spine? Would the next grave behind the shed be hers? Tuyet imagined a long line of dead women, a field of ghosts between the shed and the river of glass. She wrapped her arms around herself to keep herself from shivering.
      Dung’s lips moved, but no sound came out. She licked her lips and tried again. “I hear the dead.”
      “Only the wind.”
      Tuyet waited. What could she say? The dead were there beneath the grass. Maybe they walked, and maybe the wind carried their voices. Maybe one day soon Dung would be one of them. Maybe they all would.
      After a moment, Dung pushed herself up and scooted to the edge of her mattress. She moved like she had something broken inside.
      “Wait.” Tuyet lifted her mattress and slipped a creased photograph from a slit in the bottom. She pressed the photograph into Dung’s hand and said in Vietnamese, “Go to this address. Tell the man you find there about us. Bring help.”
      She made the girl repeat the address three times. Then Tuyet pressed her shoulder to the wall again and said, “Go.”
      “I bring help,” Dung said. “Thank you.”
      Dung pressed herself flat against the concrete and inched into the gap headfirst. She was small, and starvation had made her smaller still. Even so, she cried out as the metal scraped her shoulder blades, then her buttocks, and finally the backs of her thighs.
      Tuyet held the gap open until she thought her back might break. She watched Dung disappear inch by inch. Knees. Calves. Ankles. By the time Dung’s feet passed through the gap, Tuyet was trembling with exertion.
      She stumbled backward, and the metal sprang back into place, leaving only a small gap at the bottom where the metal had bent.
      She sank to her knees, then lay down on her stomach and pressed the metal outward with her palm so she could watch Dung push herself to her feet and stumble toward the fallen tree. Rain lashed Dung’s face, and the wind caught her small cries as the glass bit into her feet.
      “Run,” Tuyet whispered. Tears stung her eyes and ran down her cheeks, mingling with the rain. “Run far from this place.”
      She tried not to think of what the men would do when they learned what she had done. If there was anything she had learned since the day a man she’d trusted had brought her to this place, it was that there were so very many ways to be hurt.

River of Glass - available NOW!

UK: purchase from purchase from Nook UK purchase from iTunes UK find on Goodreads
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The Series: Jared McKean Mysteries

Racing The Devil | A Cup Full of Midnight |

Click on the book cover to Look Inside the book on Amazon and read an excerpt.

Racing The Devil [1]

Nashville private investigator Jared McKean has a son with Down's syndrome, a best friend with AIDS, an ex-wife he can't seem to fall out of love with, and a weakness for women in jeopardy - until one frames him for murder.

His DNA and fingerprints are found at the murder scene. His voice is on the victim's answering machine, and the victim was killed with a bullet from his gun. To make matters worse, his teen-aged nephew comes out of the closet and runs away to join a dangerous fringe of the Goth subculture.

Now Jared must find a way to clear his name, hold his family together, and solve a case that could cost him his life.

[Published 15 October 2009, 265 pages]

A Cup Full of Midnight [2]

At thirty-six, private detective Jared mcKean is coming to terms with his unjust dismissal from the Nashville Murder Squad and an unwanted divorce from a woman he still loves.

Jared is a natural horseman and horse rescuer whose son has Down Syndrome, whose best friend is dying of AIDS, and whose teenaged nephew, Josh, has fallen under the influence of a dangerous fringe of the Goth subculture.

When the fringe group's leader - a mind-manipulating sociopath who considers himself a vampire - is found butchered and posed across a pentagram, Josh is the number one suspect. Jared will need all his skills as a private investigator and former homicide detective to match wits with the most terrifying killer he has ever seen.

When he learns that Josh is next on the killer's list, Jared will risk his reputation, his family, and his life in a desperate attempt to save the boy he loves like a son.

[Published 1 January 2012, 289 pages]

About the Author

JADEN TERRELL (Beth Terrell) is the internationally published author of three novels featuring Nashville-based private detective Jared McKean.

Terrell is a contributor to Now Write! Mysteries, a collection of exercises by Tarcher/Penguin for writers of crime fiction and writes a column for the Killer Nashville Magazine. Her short story “Peace, Sometimes” is included in the anthology Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded.

An active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Private Eye Writers of America, Terrell is the recipient of the Magnolia award for service to the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Follow Jaden Terrell:

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