Shotgun Moon by K.C. McRae features Merry McCoy, an ex-con whose family ties threaten her quiet return to Hazel, Montana and put her back in danger of prison (available September 8, 2013.)
Merry McCoy has just stepped out of prison and her goals are simple: go home to Hazel, Montana and eat her way through a list of foods she hasn’t been allowed for four long years. Unfortunately, no sooner does she unlock the front door to her late mama’s ranch house than her cousin finds herself being questioned for the murder of the ex-boyfriend she’d been stalking. Merry doesn’t want anything to do with cops and just looking at the police station makes her a little weak and sweaty, but she has no intention of letting Lauri get railroaded if the girl didn’t do it.
Aunt Shirlene’s cigarette-etched voice rasped down the line. “Hey, it’s me. I’m down at the police station with Lauri.”
A tiny icicle of fear slid up Merry’s spine. “Why? What happened?”
“She… oh, God, you’re not going to believe this. She found Clay Lamente dead this morning. Sergeant Hawkins is getting ready to take her statement.”
“Jesus. Is she okay?”
“She’s a mess.” A pause. “I don’t know — there’s probably nothing you can do. I just thought…”
“Do you want me to come down there?”
Pleasepleaseplease don’t ask me to go into the police station.
“Well, it’s not like she did it, or anything.”
Merry’s temples throbbed. “Did what?”
“Clay was shot.”
Shit. “Call a lawyer. Right now.”
Merry’s biggest fear throughout the book—bigger than fire and brawny potheads and whoever actually killed Clay (because she certainly doesn’t think it was Lauri)—is finding herself back behind bars. It’s a palpable dread that follows her everywhere. And she’s got good reason to believe that just being in the right doesn’t keep one free or safe. As she tells Aunt Shirlene:
“Wrong place, wrong time. Right side of the law. Look what happened to me.”
To her parole officer, she’s a little more blunt.
“…I got fucked, then I got fucked over, and now I’m fucked up. Does knowing that make your job easier?”
But it’s not like Merry’s wearing her former problems as a badge of courage either. She just wants to keep her head down, put it behind her, and get used to freedom. She honestly doesn’t want to talk about it, think about it, or be judged by it.
Merry winced and looked away. The words hung heavy in the air. Too late to swallow them now. The elderly couple at the nearest table stared at her in horror.
Unless, of course, talking about it might help her cousin see how big a deal her finding Clay dead could actually be.
Any privacy was imaginary. Merry tried to see her cousin rousted from her hard, narrow mattress at six every morning, showering with three dozen other women—women brittle from abuse, bewildered by addiction, and often with a hate-on at the world that Merry had understood even as she did her best to deflect it away from herself—and then off to breakfast and the rest of the day.
Jaw set, Lauri stared straight ahead as Merry struggled to convey the enormity of what could be waiting for her if she were actually convicted of Clay’s death.
“I’ve been to prison, Lauri.”
“Not something I’d recommend. The food’s bad. Every minute of the day is scheduled.”
“Sounds like home,” she grumped.
The judging part she bumps up against over and over again: when she tries to get a job; from Sergeant Hawkins, the buddy of her ex-husband; when she tries to befriend someone she sees hurting. She tries to keep it from getting to her, but even with the thick skin she developed behind bars, it crashes in on her at unexpected moments.
Mostly, though, it makes her want to help Lauri even more. Even if Lauri is a bit of a spoiled brat that isn’t so good with reality or responsibility. The two, by comparison, are as opposite as relatives could be. Merry has become quiet and steady, for the most part a reserved, careful woman. Lauri is still a child who pouts and schemes when she doesn’t get her way. Worse, she really doesn’t understand how much trouble she’s in.
After that fat jerk hustled her into the back of the police car, Lauri endured the ride to the police station in silence, scarcely able to breathe since his B.O. reeked so bad. God, what a pig. She coughed and he shot her a menacing look in the rear view mirror.
Of course, she hadn’t thought they’d ever suspect her. Stupid nosy neighbor, spying on her in the dark. Her mom had better get on the stick and get her out of here.
If you can resist the urge to slap Lauri right off the page, it’s worth the investment to watch Merry feel her way back to life on the outs. Would you help your bratty cousin at the risk of your own life or freedom?
To learn more or order a copy, visit:
Neliza Drew is a tofu-eating teacher and erratic reader with a soft spot for crime fiction. She lives in the heat and humidity of southern Florida with three cats and her adorable hubby. She listens to way too much music, writes often, and spends too much time on Twitter (@nelizadrew).
Read all posts by Neliza Drew on Criminal Element.