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Tuesday 10 May 2016

☀ The Wages of Sin: Ozarks Mysteries [3] - Nancy Allen

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for The Wages of Sin, a Legal Crime Thriller by (, Witness Impulse, 320 pages).

This is the third book in the Ozarks Mysteries series.

Don't miss our interview with author Nancy Allen.

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below. Read the first four chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

Comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).

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


In rural McCown County, Missouri, a young pregnant woman is found beaten to death in a trailer park. The only witness to the murder is Ivy, her six-year-old daughter, who points to her mom’s boyfriend—father of the unborn child. County prosecutor Madeleine Thompson promises the community justice, and in the Ozarks, that can only mean one thing: a death sentence.

When Madeleine’s first choice for co-counsel declines to try a death penalty case, she is forced to turn to assistant prosecutor Elsie Arnold. Elsie is reluctant to join forces with her frosty boss, but the road to conviction seems smooth—until unexpected facts about the victim arise, and the testimony of the lone eyewitness Ivy becomes increasingly crucial. Against Elsie’s advice, Madeleine brings in the state attorney general’s office to assist them, while cutthroat trial attorney Claire O’Hara joins the defense.

Elsie will not let the power of prosecution—of seeking justice—be wrested from her without a fight. She wants to win the case, and to avenge the death of the mother and her unborn child. But as the trial nears, Elsie begins to harbor doubts about the death penalty itself. Meanwhile, the child Ivy is in greater danger than anyone knows.

Teaser: Excerpt

Chapter One

A string of curses split the air under a bright blue September sky stretching over the Ozark hills. The unintelligible shout briefly muted the banjo picking that blared through the speakers of a battered black pickup truck.
      A stone’s throw from the truck, Chuck Harris huddled inside a blue nylon tent beside his girlfriend, Lisa Peters. She reached out and tapped him on the knee.
      “Did you hear that?” she asked.
      He pulled an earphone from one ear. “What? Say what?”
      “Did you hear? They’re screaming again. And it sounds like someone else is pulling out.”
      With a groan, Chuck rolled into a crouch and peeked out the mesh window. “They’re leaving. The last sane campers.”
      “Are you sure?”
      “I can see the taillights. And their gear is gone. It’s just us and the psychos.”
      Lisa put her hands over her ears. “How many times can they play ‘Folsom Prison Blues’?”
      “And ‘Dueling Banjos.’ Gives me the chills.”
      “Dueling Banjos. You know that old movie? Deliverance? With the murdering hillbilly retards. I think they’re making the sequel right now.”
      “Don’t say ‘retard,’ ” she said under her breath; but he’d replaced his earphone.
      They had arrived the day before, on a hot Friday evening, to spend Labor Day weekend at the scenic campground in Mark Twain National Forest, an unspoiled haven in the Ozark hill country. They had erected their tent under lush leaves, but their peaceful retreat was interrupted before nightfall by the arrival of a rusty pickup spewing noxious exhaust.
      “It’s just us and them now.” Lisa unzipped the fabric door partway and stuck her head through the opening.
      Chuck asked, “Are they still drinking?”
      Dozens of beer cans littered the neighboring campsite, blinking silver in the late afternoon sunlight. Two men sat at a dying fire, passing a pipe.
      “God damn,” Chuck said. “I’m a prosecutor, a county official in McCown County. I’m a prisoner in this blue nylon womb. I can’t go outside.”
      “This isn’t McCown County.”
      “Okay, but still. I’m technically law enforcement. What am I supposed to do, if I’m confronted with their criminal antics? Run up and say ‘citizen’s arrest’?”
      Lisa reached into a duffel bag and pulled out a bottle of Fireball Whisky. Taking a quick chug from the neck of the bottle, she said, “I didn’t see the little girl out there. Or the woman.”
      “So they went home. Good for them.”
      “Chuck, they all drove here together in that piece of shit truck. How could a pregnant woman and a little kid get home from the middle of the woods?”
      “Well, maybe they’re on a nature hike.” He slumped back on his sleeping bag. “This is not what I envisioned when you proposed this camping getaway.”
      Angry voices drowned out the banjo music once again. Lisa crawled back to the mesh window.
      The two men, one tall, lank, and bearded, the other stocky, with a tangled ponytail, remained at the fireside. But a woman had joined the circle. She was young, in her midtwenties, with long hair tinted a deep henna hue, bordering on purple. A gray sweatshirt strained over her abdomen. The bearded man was shouting at her; he jumped to his feet and advanced on her, his fists cocked.
      “She’s got to be about nine months pregnant,” Lisa said. “She could drop that baby right now.”
      As Lisa watched, the bearded man shoved the pregnant woman, barking an insult. The woman stumbled, knocking over the cooler that sat beside the campfire, spilling ice and beer cans into the dirt. Her companions roared. She lumbered to an upright position and struggled to right the cooler, scrambling to pick up cans and toss them back inside. She bent to stop the movement of a can rolling away from the others.The tall man grabbed a handful of her magenta hair, jerked her up and backhanded her, sending her onto the smoking campfire.
      When the woman fell onto the fire, Lisa screamed. She jerked at the zippered door of the tent, fighting to open it. Chuck snatched her by the arm.
      “What the hell are you doing?”
      She turned on him, her eyes blazing. “That fucker. Beating up a pregnant girl. He threw her on the fire.”She returned to the zipper, but it snagged in her shaking hands. “We’ve got to stop him.”
      Chuck grasped her around the waist and pulled her away from the nylon door. “Are you trying to get us killed?”
      Lisa fought him, panting. “Do you think I’ll stand by and watch that go down?”
      He pinned her on the Coleman sleeping bag. “Jesus, Lisa, what do you think you’re dealing with? Those crackers are crazy. They’re criminals. A guy who’d beat up a pregnant woman—­what do you think he’d do to you or me?”
      They lay together in the tent for protracted, tortured moments as the screams rent the air outside.
      “We have to call 911,” Lisa said in a whisper.
      “We can’t get a signal out here. No access. We’re in the middle of fucking nowhere.”
      They heard the man’s voice again.
      “I’m going to fuck you up, you fat whore.”
      Lisa moaned. “Oh Lord, Lord, Lord.”
      Chuck grabbed his backpack. “We’ll make a run for the car. We can drive to Sparta, I think that’s the nearest town, and contact the police there.”
      Chuck peeked through the mesh, then they scuttled out of the tent. As they ran for the car, Chuck tripped over the lawn chairs they’d set by their own campfire and fell on the hard-­packed patch of dirt.
      Lisa stood by the passenger door as he crawled to the car, saying in a hoarse whisper, “Hurry, for God’s sake. Hurry.”
      Once inside the vehicle, the ignition roared, and Chuck hit the accelerator. The car swung by the neighboring campsite, where the tall man had the pregnant girl in a headlock, just outside the circle of the campfire. Her gray sweatshirt was smoking. The man with a ponytail sat in a chair, watching, and lit his pipe.
      As Chuck and Lisa pulled away from the campsite and into the woods, they saw the child, a little girl, standing by the side of the road. She was a skinny waif with scruffy blond hair, regarding them with an unblinking stare behind broken eyeglasses.

The Wages of Sin
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The Series: Ozarks Mysteries

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

The Code of the Hills [1]

To uncover the truth, she'll have to break the code of the hills …

In the Missouri Ozarks, some things aren't talked about … even abuse. But prosecutor Elsie Arnold is determined to change that.

When she is assigned to prosecute a high-profile incest case in which a father is accused of abusing his three young daughters, Elsie is ready to become the Ozarks' avenging angel.

But as Elsie sinks her teeth into the case, everything begins to turn sour. The star witness goes missing; the girls refuse to talk about their father, who terrorizes the courtroom from the moment he enters; and Elsie begins to suspect that their tough-as-nails mother has ulterior motives. To make matters worse, Elsie receives gruesome threats from local extremists, warning her to mind her own business.

While Elsie swears not to let a sex offender walk, she realizes the odds—and maybe the town—are against her, and her life begins to crumble. But amidst all of the conflict, the safety of three young girls hangs in the balance ...

A powerful debut, with the haunting atmosphere of Winter's Bone and the page-turning suspense of Alafair Burke's thrillers.

[Published 15 April 2014, 480 pages]

A Killing at the Creek [2]

Prosecutor Elsie Arnold loves her small-town home in the Ozark hills, but she’s been waiting for a murder to come along and make her career. So when a body is found under a bridge, throat cut, Elsie jumps at the chance to work on the case, even if it’s al

But when the investigation reveals that the deceased woman was driving a school bus, and the police locate the vehicle, its interior covered in blood, the occupant and only suspect is a fifteen-year-old boy. Elsie’s in for more than she bargained for.

Win or lose, this case will haunt her. No one has successfully prosecuted a juvenile for first-degree murder in McCown County. If she loses, it’s her career on the line and a chilling homicide unresolved; if she wins, a boy’s liberty will be taken from him before he reaches his sixteenth birthday.

[Published 17 February 2015, 320 pages]

About the Author

Nancy Allen practiced law for 15 years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. She has tried over 30 jury trials, including murder and sexual offenses, and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University.

Her first novel, The Code of the Hills, was published by HarperCollins in 2014. The Wages of Sin, is the third book in her Ozarks mystery series.

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