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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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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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.


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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.

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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