R.E. Donald

author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series


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On the road with a mystery trucker – one woman’s story

Why would a woman who loves mystery novels want to write about a truck driver?  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It began back in 1994.  I wanted to write a mystery series with a male protaganist, similar to the mysteries I loved to read, but I wanted a unique character.  I enjoy reading about moody L.A. homicide detectives, brilliant Scotland Yard detectives and smart aleck private eyes, but I felt that I couldn’t do a character in those professions justice, and other writers had already created series that I couldn’t compete with around similar characters.

Write what you know, they say.  Well, by 1994 I’d spent around twenty years working in the transportation industry, so I figured I had a good handle on that.  My husband had once done undercover work for the police and had used a truck driver as his cover.  Interesting how truck drivers can show up just about anywhere without raising suspicion, I thought.  And another plus about a truck driver, he wouldn’t be limited to one geographical area, which would certainly provide a variety of locales for murder.  (At the time, I was concerned that the entire population of Cabot Cove would be killed off to keep Jessica Fletcher busy in Murder, She Wrote.)

That’s how I first decided on the main character in my Hunter Rayne highway mystery series.  He’s a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police homicide detective who resigned from the force after over twenty years of exemplary service after the sudden death of his colleague and best friend, and a painful divorce that caught him by surprise.  He’s hoping that the solitude of life on the road will help him to heal from what he considers his personal failures.

As much as Hunter tries to keep his new life simple and uncomplicated, circumstances, with the help of his boss, Elspeth Watson, conspire to get him involved in murder investigations even in his civilian life.   As a boy, his heroes were cowboy crusaders like Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger, and he just can’t seem to let go of what motivated him to become a law officer in the first place, that need to see the guilty party captured and justice done.

My books aren’t thrillers or full of heart pounding suspense, but they will keep you guessing.  Does the idea of a trucker turn off some women mystery readers?  Maybe so.  But I must be doing something right.  My second novel Ice on the Grapevine is a finalist for the 2012 Global Ebook Award in the mystery category.  Both novels are now available in print editions as well as ebooks.  They’re available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites, or from Proud Horse Publishing, or you can ask your local bookstore to order them.  Just quote the ISBN numbers.

This is what some of my readers have been saying:

“Those were the best mysteries I’ve read in a long time!! As soon as I finished the first one I bought the second and felt empty when I finished it! The characters were awesome and so there that I somehow think they are in my life and I should be bumping into them at IGA or Gibson’s Building Supplies!”  Judi H., Roberts Creek, B.C.

“… this book caught my attention from the very first pages and it only got better. …I recommend this book to anyone who has a love for a good mystery. I usually figure out who the guilty party is when I read a book but this time it was a surprise. I think that Hunter Rayne would make a great TV detective, driving around the country in his rig visiting different states and helping to solve crimes. He is that interesting of a character.”  See full PRG review of Ice on the Grapevine by Linda Tonis.

“The Hero to me is the heart of the story and having only just discovered a second book in this series I’m anxious to read more.” See reviews for Slow Curve on the Coquihalla on Amazon.

“Great trucking detail, hardboiled characters, no-nonsense dialogue, and a surprise ending.”

“One of the fine traditional mysteries that keep who-done-it on everyone’s favorite reading lists.”

“Whodunit addicts will not be disappointed.”

See full reviews for Ice on the Grapevine on Amazon.

Check out my interview on Laurie Hanan’s Mondays are Murder blog.

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The first mystery in the series is Slow Curve on the Coquihalla.  When a well respected truck driver, the owner of a family trucking business, is found dead in his truck down a steep embankment along the mountainous Coquihalla highway in British Columbia, his distraught daughter wants to know how and why his truck left the road on an easy uphill curve.  Her resemblance to his own daughter compels Hunter Rayne, a fellow trucker and former homicide detective, to help her find answers.

As he uncovers signs of illegal cross border activity originating in a Seattle warehouse, Hunter recruits an old friend, an outlaw biker, to infiltrate what appears to be  an international smuggling ring. But while Hunter follows up clues and waits for critical information from his old friend, the wily biker starts to play his own angles.

Finally, putting all the pieces together, there in the dark on the same uphill curve on the Coquihalla highway, Hunter risks it all to confront the murderer.

The ISBN for Slow Curve on the Coquihalla is 978-0988111806.

The second mystery in the series, the one shortlisted for the 2012 Global Ebook Award in mysteries, is Ice on the Grapevine.  The story opens on a July morning with the discovery of a frozen corpse at a brake check just south of the Grapevine Pass in L.A. County. Hunter, who is in southern California making a delivery, is persuaded by his irascible dispatcher, Elspeth Watson, to help clear two fellow truck drivers who are arrested for the murder. His job is made more difficult by the fact that the suspects, a newlywed couple, won’t speak up in their own defence.

The circumstantial evidence is strong, and a rookie detective from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is eager to score a win.  The investigation crosses the Canada-U.S. border when the victim is identified as a second rate musician from Vancouver, and it turns out there were more than a few desperate people happy to see him dead, including the accused couple.  Hunter has to use all his investigative skills to uncover the truth.

The ISBN for Ice on the Grapevine is 978-0988111813.

I’m working on the third novel in the series, which will be set primarily in the resort community of Whistler, B.C., which was the location of the 2010 Winter Olympic games.

I hope you enjoy reading about my truck driver hero as much as I enjoy writing about him!

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Thanks to a Kindle, Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay, my novel’s a finalist for a Global Ebook Award

One year ago almost to the day, my life began to change in a wonderful way.  It wasn’t a bad life, especially from the outside looking in, but I had lost my enthusiasm somehow.  It felt like all I had to look forward to was getting older, which wasn’t something I felt good about, but it was inevitable so I didn’t think there was anything I could do to change it.  Then, on a whim (at least I had a few of those left!), I ordered a Kindle.

I’ve always loved to read, and I especially love to read mysteries – the whodunit kind.  Sometimes I’ll read a non-mystery book recommended by a friend, but if I’m searching out a book to read for escape and enjoyment, it will always be a murder mystery.  I think it’s the puzzle that attracts me, but why murder?  I don’t know.  I like to watch true crime on TV and I like a novel where the characters seem real to me, as if their stories could one day be told on Dateline or 48 Hours Mysteries.

So it was totally out of character for me, that summer day in 2011 when I turned on my Kindle, that the very first book I purchased on it was Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life.  It’s a self-help book, so even if I didn’t consciously think anything could help, I must have had a kernel of hope that growing old wasn’t all I had left to do.  The book had loads of great reviews but the deciding factor was that it was only $0.99 that day.  I not only downloaded it, I read through it twice over the next couple of weeks, doing all the excercises to one extent or another.

That book changed my life.  I know it sounds trite, but it did.  Louise Hay led me to Wayne Dyer’s Excuses BegoneI started to look at myself differently, and to look at my life differently, and it started me on the road to publishing my first two mystery novels, written over ten years ago, rewritten, revised and polished several times, and waiting patiently for the ‘some day’ that a publisher would accept them and they would be published.  That ‘some day’ was no longer beyond my control.  Louise and Wayne gave me the push that I needed, and Amazon’s Kindle gave me the ability to make my novels available to readers.

When the comments and reviews started coming in, I knew I was on the right path.  I might never make a lot of money, nor be interviewed on TV, nor have a novel on the New York Times bestseller list, but I kept hearing from readers who enjoyed my novels and were asking me when they could expect the next one.  That gave me a reason to keep writing, and getting back to writing added an exciting new dimension to my life.

One year down the road, I now have print editions of my first two novels being released in the coming months, and my third novel is well underway and I expect to release the first digital edition of Sea to Sky this fall.  Ideas for future novels are percolating in my mind, and I expect to release a new one each year.  And … TA DA!  My second novel, Ice on the Grapevine, has been selected by the judges as a finalist for a 2012 Global Ebook Award in the mystery category.  Win or no win, I’ll be there in Santa Barbara on August 18th to celebrate my own accomplishments of the past year, along with those of other writers who are travelling the same road.

From a sales perspective, my Hunter Rayne highway mystery series is not an overnight success.  From a personal perspective, that’s exactly what I experienced: my life changed successfully almost overnight.   So, thanks, Louise!  Thanks, Wayne!  Thanks, Amazon!  Thanks, Smashwords!  And above all, thank you, readers!


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Ice on the Grapevine is a finalist in the mystery category of the Global Ebook Awards!

Ice on the Grapevine, the second novel in the Hunter Rayne highway mystery series, has been selected by judges as a finalist in the mystery category of the 2012 Global Ebook Awards.  The winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony at the University Club in Santa Barbara, California on August 18th.

The first two novels in the Hunter Rayne highway mystery series were released as ebooks by independent Canadian publisher Proud Horse Publishing in the fall of 2011, and will soon be available in print editions.  They have both been receiving very good reviews from readers on various ebook review sites over the past several months.

The series features a former homicide detective who reluctantly resigned from a successful career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and took to the highways as a long  haul truck driver in the hopes that the solitude of the road would help him heal from the pain of personal tragedy.  A strong supporting cast includes his irascible female dispatcher, Elspeth Watson, who is as tough a boss as they come but is always ready to volunteer Hunter’s help when a fellow trucker is in trouble.  The author’s many years of experience in the transportation industry help to keep the situations and characters engaging and realistic.

The novels are traditional ‘whodunits’ with complex plots, multiple suspects and – for most readers – a surprise ending.  They feature realistic subplots involving the recurring characters and have more than one fan impatiently waiting for the next novel in the series.

R.E. Donald is working on the third Hunter Rayne highway mystery, set primarily in the resort community of Whistler, BC, known around the world as the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics.