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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Bound for Bouchercon in Long Beach, California!

I’m looking forward to attending my first Bouchercon since I went to Bouchercon 1997 in Monterey. Bouchercon 2014 is taking place in Long Beach, California, and is aptly being called Murder at the Beach. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Bouchercon, it’s an annual convention that brings together mystery readers and writers, as well as publishing industry professionals. It’s an opportunity to connect with other mystery fans, meet some of your favorite mystery writers, buy books, exchange ideas and just generally have a good time with other mystery buffs.

This will the first such conference I’ve attended as a published author. I experimented with self-publishing by making my first Hunter Rayne novel, Slow Curve on the Coquihalla, available to Amazon readers in September of 2011 and the response was so encouraging I now have three novels in the Highway Mysteries series available in both print and digital editions through all of the major on-line retailers. I had hoped to finish my fourth novel in time to take some ARCs with me to the conference, but I still have a few chapters to write, revisions and edits to make, and formatting to do before it’s ready for readers.

If you’re going to be at Bouchercon, I’ll be doing an Author Focus Panel on Friday, November 14th. Look for me in Room Harbor C at 9:00 a.m. I’ll also be participating in the Author Speed Dating breakfast on Thursday, November 13th from 8:30 to 10:30. It’s something I’ve never done before, but I expect it will be a lot of fun and I look forward to meeting readers and other writers at the event.

Kings River Life, a California e-magazine with great mystery content, currently has a contest to win a free print copy of my third novel, Sea to Sky, featured as a Bouchercon coming attraction on KRL.  KRL published a short story of mine in September, partly inspired by my visit to Monterey for the 1997 Bouchercon (I’ve actually been there several times). It features Elspeth Watson, one of the main characters from the Highway Mysteries series, and is a good introduction to her rather unique personality. Check out Joggers on KRL.

Hope to see you in Long Beach!

 


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Real Truck Driver Heroes

My mystery series features a truck driver hero. Hunter Rayne is a former police officer who left the police force and bought himself a big rig. In the series, he travels the highways of western North America in a navy blue Freightliner that his boss likes to call The Blue Knight. Whether he wants to or not, he still gets involved in investigating murders and, like the Mountie he used to be, he always gets his man.

But Hunter Rayne is a fictional hero, and the men featured in the following two stories from Truckers Report this week are the real thing. One of the men, Robert Tyler from Washington State, used his head and his truck to possibly save more than one man’s life when he encountered an unconscious man in a vehicle that could have careened into traffic at any second. Read the full story from Overdrive Magazine here.

In the second story this week, a driver trainee and the driver who was training him (Harry Welker) were in the right place at the right time. A state trooper in Kansas had pulled over a van at a rest stop. In the van was a man wanted for parole violations. He was somehow able to overpower the trooper, and had him in a chokehold. The two drivers, Harry Welker and the trainee, are both former marines and didn’t hesitate to run to the trooper’s aid, helping to subdue the offender so he could be taken into custody. Read the full story, titled Driver Trainer, Trainee Rescue State Trooper on the Truckers Report.

Truckload Carriers Association Highway Angel

Truckload Carriers Association Highway Angels Program

There are ‘bad apples’ in every profession and trucking is no exception; often it’s the bad examples whose stories get passed along. The truth is, the vast majority of truck drivers are hard-working individuals who care about their fellow motorists and deserve our respect and admiration. The two examples of truckers helping out cited above are just the most recent. The Overdrive website has many stories of such heroic actions in their feature Knights of the Road, and the Truckload Carriers Association honors these Highway Angels on an ongoing basis.

Country artist Lindsay Lawler explains the program and introduces her song about Highway Angels on YouTube.

 

Next time you pass a big rig on the highway, you might just be passing a Highway Angel.


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Murder on the Mountain

A spectacular setting for murder, described today at Lois Winston’s Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. It starts with:

Photo by Justa Jeskova

Photo by Justa Jeskova

A Mountain of Mystery

My hero is always on the move. That’s because the sleuth in the Highway Mysteries series drives an eighteen-wheeler up and down the west coast of North America. Even truck drivers need a little R&R now and then, and that’s what brings former RCMP homicide investigator Hunter Rayne to the resort community of Whistler, British Columbia in the third Highway Mystery, Sea to Sky. While Hunter enjoys a few days of downhill skiing, he plans to become better acquainted with an attractive female lawyer he met in L.A. He doesn’t, however, plan to become the prime suspect in a murder on the mountain.

The town of Whistler became familiar to many winter sports fans around the world when it was the site of Alpine events at the 2010 Winter Olympics. It’s a magnificent setting, with the snow covered peaks of Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains towering some 5000 feet above the attractive and upscale Village of Whistler, where you can walk to dozens of shops, restaurants and bars. Yet Whistler is only a two-hour drive from the port city of Vancouver, or four and a half hours from Seattle, the last hour of the drive on the spectacular Sea to Sky highway as it winds its way upward through the coastal rainforest and along the rugged shores of Howe Sound.

Read more at http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.ca/2014/05/travel-to-whistler-british-columbia.html

And check out the Anastasia Pollack mysteries while you’re there!

 

 


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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.


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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.