R.E. Donald

author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series


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Sundown on Top of the World up for an Award

whistlerwriters-logo-badgesI’m thrilled to announce that Sundown on Top of the World has been selected as one of three finalists for the Whistler Independent Book Award in the Crime Fiction category. Set in bush Alaska, it is the most recent novel in my mystery series featuring a former RCMP homicide investigator who drives an eighteen wheeler. The title is taken from the Top of the World highway that runs between Dawson City, Yukon and the town of Tok in eastern Alaska.

Sundown_cov origI’m delighted with the many good reader reviews the book has received on Amazon and iBooks since its release last year. The reviewer for the Alaska Dispatch News called it a “finely crafted [story] driven by well-defined characters and strong sense of place”.

Those of you who have read my earlier Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery, Sea to Sky, will know that it is set primarily in the mountain resort community of Whistler, B.C., which happens to be where the award winners will be announced during the Whistler Writers Festival this October.

In the fall of 2015, a German translation of Sea to Sky was released, and award-winning translator Ingrid Könemann-Yarnell is now working on the translation of Sundown on Top of the World. (Könemann-Yarnell received the Readers Choice award from Amazon Crossing during the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair for her translation of a book by another Canadian author.)

I’m sorry to say that I’m way behind schedule on the next novel in the series, mainly due to family  health issues which prevented me from getting much writing done during the winter. I have more time to spend at the keyboard during the winter months, and too much else to do on the ranch when the good weather arrives. I’m still hoping to have it finished this year. Thanks to all the readers who have written and encouraged me to finish it as soon as I can!


More links:

Announcement in Quill & Quire magazine: http://www.quillandquire.com/book-news/2016/07/20/awards-whistler-independent-book-awards-names-finalists/

Link to a press release published in Broadway World Books.

 

 


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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.

_______________________________________________________________

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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Murder mystery set on the “Highway Thru Hell”

Massive, magnificent, and dangerous.  Many of us who regularly travel the Coquihalla highway can remember the year it opened, and the first time we drove those long, steep climbs and descents through the Coast Mountains.  Our first views from near the summit were breathtaking.  As long as you had a good vehicle and the weather was fair, it was a faster and easier trip from the town of Hope to BC’s Interior than the narrow and winding Fraser Canyon route of Highway 1.  It was a magnificent addition to BC’s highway system just in time for Vancouver’s Expo ’86.  (You might enjoy this video from the Vancouver Archives about the construction of the Coquihalla.)

It’s no wonder that when I began to plan my first novel in 1994, I chose to have the murder take place along what Discovery channel is now calling the “Highway Thru Hell” in their new reality series.  In my frequent trips up the highway that summer with my late husband, I picked out a spot where an 18-wheeler could go off the road and not be seen for days at a time.  It also had to be a spot where an accident was not likely to happen.  When I found a perfect spot, not very far south of Merritt, SLOW CURVE ON THE COQUIHALLA was born.

In the intervening years, the layout along that stretch of highway has changed, but the highway itself remains dangerous and spectacular.  I drove it again just last month, and like every time, I marvel at the magnificent snowshed and at the incredible rocky slopes of Zopkios peak.

Zopkios Ridge from the Coquihalla highway

If you like to read, especially if you like to read mystery novels, check out the first novel in the Hunter Rayne highway mystery series.  Hunter Rayne is a former homicide detective who has chosen to make long haul trucking his second career.  He feels that the solitude of life on the road will help him to heal from two events that devastated his personal life before he resigned from the RCMP.  His crusty dispatcher, Elspeth Watson, tries to keep Hunter and his navy blue Freightliner busy, and sometimes persuades him to get involved in murder investigations.

For the month of October 2013, there is a promotion on the digital edition of Slow Curve on the Coquihalla to introduce the Highway Mysteries to new readers, so check your favorite ebook retailer to download a copy anywhere from $0.99 to free.  Links to where you can purchase both digital and print editions of the Hunter Rayne highway mysteries are at Proud Horse Publishing, or ask your local bookstore or library to order it by giving them the ISBN 978-0-9881118-06.


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Hooked on Crime

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved books. It’s hard to pinpoint just when murder NancyDrewbecame the main ingredient of my favorite reads. No doubt I cut my literary teeth on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I can’t remember how discriminating I was in my childhood, but I must have liked books with horses and concussions, because that’s what I remember about my first attempt at writing a novel when I was twelve. The heroine – loosely based on my young self, I suppose, although I had never had a horse or a concussion – was continually being thrown from her horse and losing consciousness in her quest to chase (or was it escape from?) a bad guy.

HemingwayOnce I entered the senior years of high school, I became a book snob. It was classics or nothing, and my preference was for European classics: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Victor Hugo, Jean Paul Sartre and Thomas Mann are among those that come to mind. (I can recall throwing a Harold Robbins paperback across the room in disgust.) I also let myself read American writers like Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Bellow, plus the occasional Michener historical saga. Except…

TravisMcGeeExcept when I was on summer vacation at my Uncle’s lakeside cabin, when I would raid his bookshelves for the works of John D. MacDonald, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Dick Francis and Ngaio Marsh, among others. Then it was on to university, my first marriage and some dark days – years actually – in my life, from which I emerged still scorning contemporary crime writers in favor of Penguin classics. My second husband, a charming and brilliant rogue, but a rogue nonetheless, got me back into reading modern novels and I quickly found myself hooked on crime.

ColumboMy preference soon became mystery series, harking back to my earlier enjoyment of the Travis McGee and Nero Wolfe mystery series. That was reinforced by TV series like Perry Mason, Columbo and Murder She Wrote, followed by the original Law and Order. I shared books with my father, and sometimes others in the family, and our collective tastes ran from The Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun to the Richard Jury series by Martha Grimes and the Thomas Lynley series by Elizabeth George. More recently – which may not be terribly recent by most standards – Michael Connelly and John Lescroart have become my favorite authors, and I now prefer to watch true crime like Dateline and 48 Hours on television.

So what’s my point?

justiceWhy would a law-abiding pacifist who even apologizes to flies and mosquitoes when she is forced to kill them (in self defense, of course) be so fascinated by crime? I know I’m only one of millions with the same fascination. Why, when we hate to witness actual violence, or even read about it, do we love books and shows about murder? I’m no psychologist, but I’ve often pondered the question, and it seems to me that it gives us comfort to see the perpetrators of crime found out and put away so they won’t be able to harm innocent people. We want to be able to figure out who did the evil deed and see them brought to justice, and that lets us feel a little more in control of the scary world around us.

Whatever the reason, even though I stray back to classics and will even venture to read a contemporary ‘literary’ novel now and then, I am and will no doubt remain, firmly hooked on crime.

* * * * * *

Joggers_covSWIf anyone is interested in sampling my fiction writing on their e-reader, I’m offering a free short story on Kobo, Smashwords and most major ebook retailers (except Amazon, where I can’t make it less than 99 cents). It’s called Joggers and features Elspeth Watson, one of the main characters in my Highway Mystery series. The three novels in the series are available in both digital and print editions. More information about the series at Proud Horse Publishing.

Enjoy!


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Sea_to_Sky_HJA dead man rides a chairlift on Whistler Mountain, and it doesn’t take long for the press to label the murderer “The Chairlift Killer”.   Former homicide detective Hunter Rayne drove the Sea to Sky highway to Whistler’s ski resort for what was supposed to be a pleasant weekend of skiing with an attractive female acquaintance.  Instead, he finds himself at the top of the suspect list, and has no choice but to get involved in the investigation in order to clear his name.

While he’s busy in Whistler, trucker Hunter is forced to hire his biker friend, 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 Hunter’s dispatcher El Watson gets the biker involved in the murder investigation?

In the midst of the investigation, Hunter’s life becomes complicated when the progress of a new relationship is arrested by the appearance of a woman from his troubled past.

Sea to Sky is the third novel in the Hunter Rayne highway mystery series, just released in a digital edition at the end of 2012 and in a print edition in March of 2013.  It’s now available in digital format from most ebook retailers, and the print edition can be ordered online or through your local bookstore.  Quote the ISBN of 978-09881118-20 for the print edition.

Visit Proud Horse Publishing for additional information.


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Elvis Presley was a truck driver. Some truckers rock!

The new mystery series – the Hunter Rayne highway mysteries – features a long-haul truck driver as the ‘semi-professional’ detective.  Thanks to recent reader Steve for the following comment:

Never thought I would enjoy a truck driver based mystery, but I sure did.

I wasn’t surprised.  When I chose to write about a trucker, I knew that some readers would hesitate to pick up a book featuring a truck driver.  Why would that be?  Seems there’s a perception out there, especially among women, that a book with trucks in it must be a book for boys.  What!?

Hey!  Truckers are real people, too.  Truckers can be men or women, young or old, with interesting lives, interesting loves, strong emotions, and fascinating hobbies.  Truck drivers can be talented, attractive (wasn’t Elvis?), complicated people.  Some truck drivers of today are a lot like the cowboys of yesteryear – hard working, solitary individuals with interesting pasts and complex relationships, which can add up to a touch of romance.

Elvis Presley drove a truck before he became famous.  You might be interested to know that several other famous people were truck drivers at some point early in their careers.  Take for instance, Liam Neeson, the actor.  A hunk, or what?  And Chevy Chase, a very funny man.  For those of us who were around to appreciate their best  years, how about Charles Bronson and Sean Connery?  And Richard Pryor.  And Rock Hudson.  Who wouldn’t want to read about truck drivers like those guys?

But famous truck drivers weren’t all actors and singers.  How’s this for murder mystery fans?  Another man who drove a truck before he came famous was Peter Sutcliffe.  Who was he, you ask.  Peter Sutcliffe was – mwah-hah-hah – the Yorkshire Ripper.

Another reader recently commented:

 … the whole time I was reading this book I thought R.E. Donald was male. For a guy, he did an excellent job of getting the female characters right. The introspectives and actions of all characters give readers a full understanding of their motives. That was unexpected from a male author in a mystery involving truck drivers.  I’m sorry, Ruth E. Donald, for presuming you were a man. It’s a compliment to you that I read the book with such interest that I didn’t read “about the author” first.

Thank you, Goodreads readers Steve and Ginney, for the compliments.  They were reading my first Hunter Rayne highway mystery Slow Curve on the Coquihalla.  Another Goodreads reader, Pat, had this to say about the second novel Ice on the Grapevine (ahem!  a finalist for the 2012 Global Ebook Award for Mysteries) :

The plot and situations were intriguing, and kept me guessing to the end. I found the characters very believable, especially the women. There even were traces of humor and romance. I’m curious to see how Hunter and the other characters develop as the series progresses…. R.E. Donald is definitely an author to revisit.

Thank you, Pat.  Comments like yours keep me happily writing more.  It’s nice to know that more readers are discovering that a truck driver can make an intriguing hero.

So please keep in mind, mystery lovers, you can’t always judge a book by its cover.  Take a closer look at the person behind the wheel next time you pass a big rig on the highway.  He – or she – might just be famous one day.

______________________________________________

Note:  Both novels are currently featured as Giveaways on Goodreads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Slow Curve on the Coquihalla by R.E. Donald

Slow Curve on the Coquihalla

by R.E. Donald

Giveaway ends August 31, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ice on the Grapevine by R.E. Donald

Ice on the Grapevine

by R.E. Donald

Giveaway ends September 15, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


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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.

_______________________________________________________________

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!