Closer Than She Knows
by Kelly Irvin
on Tour June 22 – July 24, 2020
A serial killer bent on revenge . . . and striking too close to home.
Teagan O’Rourke has always loved murder mysteries. In her job as a court reporter, she has written official records for dozens of real-life murders. She’s slapped evidence stickers on crime scene photos. She’s listened to hours of chilling testimony. But she’s never known the smell of death. And she never thought she might be a victim.
A young police officer is murdered just inches away from her, and then a man calling himself a serial killer starts leaving Teagan notes, signing each with the name of a different murderer from her favorite mystery novels.
Panicked, Teagan turns to her friend Max Kennedy. Max longs for more than friendship with Teagan, but he fears she’ll never trust someone with a past like his. He wonders how much of God’s “tough love” he can take before he gives up on love completely. And he wonders if he’ll be able to keep Teagan alive long enough to find out.
As Teagan, Max, and Teagan’s police officer father race to track down the elusive killer, they each know they could be the next victim. Desperate to save those she loves, Teagan battles fears that once haunted her in childhood. Nothing seems to stop this obsessed murderer. No matter what she does, he seems to be getting closer.
Book Details:Genre: Romantic Suspense Published by: Thomas Nelson Publication Date: June 9th 2020 Number of Pages: 352 ISBN: 0785231862 (ISBN13: 9780785231868) Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
The Serial Killer in my Head
By Kelly Irvin
Whoever advised writers to write about what they know must not have written crime fiction. I’ve been inside the head of a paid assassin, delved into a U.S.-Mexico border gun smuggling ring, and now followed a fictitious serial killer on his egomaniacal, brutal journey through South Texas. No way I want to have intimate knowledge of a psychopath but writing Closer Than She Knows required me to do extensive research to create my killer. For the seven months it took me to write this book I lived and breathed the history of serial killers in the United States, theories on why they do it, the methodology of catching them, and even how to escape from one.
I found myself fascinated and repulsed at the same time. Ted Bundy particularly stands out. He was so sure of himself, of his charm, and his intelligence. He was smart. He became a self-taught jailhouse lawyer. He managed to escape from jail. Yet, all he had to do to stay out of jail was not kill again. He couldn’t stop. He had a compulsion to kill that landed him in the electric chair.
I’m not sure it’s truly possible to understand a killer like Bundy or John Gacy or the Green River Killer or the Hillside Strangler. But I tried. I read retired FBI Special Agent Robert Ressler’s Whoever Fights Monsters and Serial Killers by Peter Vronsky. Around the time I started writing Closer Than She Knows, Kerri Rawson, the daughter of BTK Killer Dennis Rader, released her book A Serial Killer’s Daughter. She was interviewed on a number of news shows, including “20/20.” A documentary on Ted Bundy aired.
It seemed the subject was everywhere. The challenge became how to funnel all that information and research into my serial killer. What drove him to kill? Why target my protagonist Teagan O’Rourke? How does she respond when she comes face-to-face with a man who has killed people she loves? How do my law enforcement folks track him down?
When Teagan O’Rourke’s retired detective father gives her advice on how to escape a serial killer, I was able to use what I learned from Vronsky’s book. Procedures for involving the FBI in the investigation come from Ressler’s book. The handwriting analysis came from Jennifer Dornbush’s Forensic Speak How to Write Realistic Crime Dramas.
Getting the technical stuff right is important. Readers expect that. But I also want them to connect with my characters. I want the characters to feel like flesh and blood to them. It’s easy to create a one-dimensional bad guy for readers to hate and cheer his demise. The real challenge is to create a three-dimensional person who has good and bad qualities. Ann Rule, the author of The Stranger Beside Me, was friends with Ted Bundy for years. They volunteered together at a suicide prevention hotline. She was shocked, devastated, and horrified when she finally allowed herself to believe that he was a brutal, misogynistic necrophiliac who had killed dozens of women. The BTK killer was a good father, a church deacon, and a Boy Scout troop leader.
They both hid well their darkest secrets. They led double lives. People loved them. I started there. My killer is loved. He has family. He has a day job. He’s never been in trouble. Not even a speeding ticket.
What I ultimately realized is I didn’t want to write a titillating story of murder and mayhem. Lives are destroyed by murderers. Families never recover. Loved ones never stop mourning. This isn’t a story that glamorizes violence in some form or fashion. Actions have consequences. My serial killer became who he is because the people who should’ve loved him unconditionally didn’t. I’m not making excuses for him, only trying to apply mercy and grace to the situation.
Teagan, her family, and the families of the victims have to learn how to go on with their lives. How to trust new people who come into their lives. How to let go of the nightmares. She also has to make a momentous decision about her future with the man she loves. Will she let her experience with a serial killer influence that decision?
I doubt I’ll ever write a villain who dug into my psyche more than this one. I can’t wait for readers to dive into Teagan’s story. I hope when they read the last page and close the book, they’ll still be thinking about the message behind the mayhem.
Kelly Irvin is a bestselling author and two-time Carol Award finalist. She is a former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional. Kelly lives in Texas with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two cats.
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Enter To Win!:
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Harper Collins and Kelly Irving. There will be 1 winner of CLOSER THAN SHE KNOWS by Kelly Irving (print). The giveaway begins on June 22, 2020 and runs through July 26, 2020. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.