R.E. Donald

author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series


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The Highway Mysteries

SlowCurvecovHJ72The Highway Mysteries have introduced a unique new character for mystery lovers, especially fans of the ‘whodunit’.  The hero, Hunter Rayne, is a retired homicide detective who left a successful career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to become a long-haul truck driver.  Why a man would do that is a mystery in itself, but it’s no mystery that his sense of justice compels him to help solve crimes that affect people he cares about.

IceontheGrapevineKDPIn a genre that already has plenty of tough-talking North American homicide cops, brilliant Scotland Yard detectives and smart aleck private eyes, this polite and low-key Canadian truck driver has a niche all to himself.  He has adopted a solitary profession by choice, is struggling to pay the bills just like the rest of us, and isn’t very good at personal relationships, but when it comes to solving murders, he’s a smart and seasoned detective.

Sea_to_Sky_HJWrite what you know, they say.  By 1994 I’d spent around twenty years working in the transportation industry.  My husband had once done undercover work for the police and had used a truck driver as his cover.   Truck drivers can show up just about anywhere without raising suspicion, and they aren’t limited to one geographical area.  All of these factors combined to make a long-haul trucker the hero of choice for my mystery series.

As much as Hunter Rayne 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.

The Highway Mysteries aren’t thrillers or full of heart pounding suspense, but they will keep you guessing.  The second novel in the series,  Ice on the Grapevine was a finalist for the 2012 Global Ebook Award in Mystery Fiction.  The novels are available in both print and digital editions.   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 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.

“The dialogue is well written and smooth and without giving away any spoilers there are well thought out and believable twists.  The pacing is good and the lead characters are likable, flaws and all, and though I haven’t read the first book in the series I now want to and look forward to reading more in the future.

I highly recommend Ice On The Grapevine as a good read and a solid example of good writing.  Plus, and this is probably most important, it is a fun ride.”  See Goodreads review.

“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.

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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 978-0-9881118-06.

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 978-0-9881118-13.

Sea_to_Sky_HJDuring what was supposed to be a few days of skiing at the Whistler Mountain resort with an attractive female acquaintance, former homicide detective Hunter Rayne finds himself the prime suspect in the RCMP’s hunt for “The Chairlift Killer”.  Hunter has no choice but to get involved in the investigation in order to clear his name.

Meanwhile, trucker Hunter was scheduled to haul a load of freight to Northern California, so he calls up his old friend, biker Dan Sorenson, to take his place behind the wheel.  What connects the badass biker from Yreka, California to the most prolific female serial killer in US history?  And what happens when dispatcher El Watson ignores Hunter’s warning and sends the biker on a search for clues to the motive behind the murder?

The ISBN for Sea to Sky (print edition) is 978-0-9881118-20.

 

The fourth novel in the series is titled Sundown on Top of the World and is scheduled for release early in 2015.  I hope you enjoy reading about my truck driver hero as much as I enjoy writing about him!

Like my page on Facebook or follow @RuthEDonald on Twitter for updates.

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18 Wheels & Heels: Women in Trucking

18_Wheels_Heels_Cover_page_001I am honored and delighted to be featured in the February 2014 issue of 18 Wheels & Heels, a magazine for women in the trucking industry.  They first contacted me on Twitter (@RuthEDonald) to ask whether I would be interested in having them feature me and my Highway Mysteries series, and of course I replied with an enthusiastic Yes!  They’ve listed my three mysteries in their “Book It List” of good reads for their subscribers as well.

Here’s a .pdf of the interview. (I’d link directly to the pages in the magazine, but I had trouble viewing it on my own computer, although it did work on an iPad.)

The role that women play in the trucking industry has obviously continued to evolve since the time period that the Highway Mysteries are set in (the 1990s). Most of us have seen a few hot pink or purple trucks on the road, with the drivers joyfully flaunting their femininity. Others downplay their gender in order to avoid harassment by their male counterparts; gender discrimination can still be a problem for women in the male-dominated industry. There are a few books out by women truck drivers chronicling their years in the industry, among them Trucking in English by Carolyn Steele. I liked reading about her adventures, and could relate to much of what she experienced.

I enjoyed my years working in the transportation industry, and am happy that I can put my experience to good use in the Highway Mysteries series. I’m also glad to have endorsements from readers who work in the industry, as I try very hard to make sure my settings and situations are authentic. Last year, two of my books were also reviewed and described as “recommended reads” by a trucking publication in the United Kingdom, Truck and Driver magazine. (The books were Ice on the Grapevine and Slow Curve on the Coquihalla.) I was delighted to hear from some new fans in England who had purchased my books on their recommendation.

The central plot of each novel is, of course, a murder mystery, but my stories are driven by the characters in them. Those characters are real to me, and you can meet people like them working in service industries (including trucking and law enforcement) almost everywhere in North America. They have flaws, insecurities, hopes and dreams; they have fears and triumphs, loves and losses, foibles and indulgences. They are ordinary people, and like all “ordinary” people, they are unique. They are my friends, and I hope they will become your friends, too.