Book Title: DARKNESS HIDES by J.C. Gatlin
Category: Adult Fiction (18 + yrs), 251 pages
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Publisher: Milford House Press
Release date: April 2021
Format available for review: print and ebook (Gifted Kindle)
Will send print books out: USA and Canada
Tour dates: June 14 to July 2
Content Rating: PG-13: There are a couple of murders and mild language (damn, shit)
Someone she knows is watching.
Someone she knows is stalking.
And something hides in the darkness.
With a Category 4 hurricane about to make landfall, boat safety instructor Kate Parks is running out of time. Bodies are piling up--and they're not from the raging storm. An injury may have ended her career as a Fish and Wildlife officer, but nothing can keep her away from the investigation.
And it doesn’t take long for her to see that the clues have one thing in common: a connection to the recent death of her five-year-old nephew.
In a brewing storm of rage, guilt, and family secrets, Kate fights to protect her grieving sister just as the hurricane threatens everything she knows and loves. But before her world is completely ravaged, she must uncover one final truth:
Run from the water.
Hide from the wind.
Flee from the shadows where a weeper seeks revenge.
Exclusive preview of DARKNESS HIDES
Meet Kate Parks, a former Fish & Wildlife Officer who is now working as a boat safety inspector for the Sienna Key Police Department. In this chapter, she is hunkered down in her childhood home with her sister, Elise, as Hurricane Sebastian makes landfall.
Meet Elise Tyler, Kate's younger sister who is still grieving the loss of her son Noah. She refused to evacuate, and Kate had hoped to convince her to leave before it was too late.
Read the sample chapter before the storm hits and escape routes are blocked.
Kate found a battery-operated Coleman lantern discarded on the kitchen floor and flipped it on. It lit up the room, and she carried it upstairs, where Elise sat alone in Noah’s bedroom.
“I want to be alone,” Elise said, sitting in the rocker.
Kate didn’t respond, listening to the rain and wind pummel the house. The walls creaked so eerily in the gale-force winds that she wondered if they could collapse around them. Stuffed animals above the bed trembled. Her pet squirrel, Doc, raised up on her shoulder, swishing his bushy tail. The lantern cast a pale glow around the bedroom. With the windows boarded up, any area outside the lantern light was lost in thick, inky blackness. Though she couldn’t see the lightning, she could hear the angry thunder compete with the rain beating the roof.
The bookcase rattled, keeping her on edge. She glanced at Elise, huddled in the rocking chair. Her sister wrapped the afghan tighter over her shoulders and locked her arms around her knees.
The walls trembled with another thunderclap, shaking the bookcase, and knocked the worn copy of Where the Darkness Hides to the floor. Kate jumped at the loud thump. Doc jumped too and leaped to the floor to investigate. She raised the lantern and looked around the room. Many of the stuffed animals had fallen onto the small bed. A model airplane dangled from the ceiling, swaying violently from the turbulence. A toy box sat positioned under the window.
Letting out a breath, she shut her eyes and focused on the rain thumping the roof. It intensified, then quieted. The sound was hypnotic, and she didn’t even hear Doogie enter the bedroom. He shined a flashlight in her direction and paused in the doorway.
“Sebastian made landfall”—his voice rose above another loud boom of thunder—“south of Sarasota.”
Kate couldn’t see him behind the blinding light in his hands, and when he lowered the flashlight, it still took a moment for her eyes to adjust. She sensed him stepping beside her. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Doc dash across the floor toward him.
“We’ve just got to make it through the night.” He walked over to the rocking chair and put a hand on Elise’s shoulder.
Doc followed, cautiously investigating the cuff of his right pant leg.
“It’s about to get worse,” Kate said.
A corner of Elise’s mouth turned upward, but her smile was without humor. She turned to Doogie. “Why didn’t you sell her to gypsies or leave her in the woods somewhere?”
The wind howled at the window, and a sudden gust ripped the plywood from the casing. The glass shattered. Wind and rain blew into the room.
Elise screamed. The rocker overturned, spilling her to the floor. Kate and Doogie rushed to the bed, flipped the mattress off it, and forced it to the open window. They fought the incoming wind. The force bent the mattress, folded it like a sheet of paper, and pushed them back. Doogie shoved the mattress against the window and held it there. He yelled at Kate to move the bookcase. She got to one side of it and scooted it across the carpet to the front of the mattress.
The mattress shuddered in front of the broken window. The wind squealed and screamed like a dying thing. Kate and Doogie were silent for a couple of minutes, staring at each other.
“It’s not going to hold,” Kate yelled to him over the wind.
“We need to go downstairs.” He pointed toward the bedroom door. “It’s not safe in here.”
Elise turned the rocker right side up and sat down. “I’m not leaving Noah’s room.”
Doogie stepped to her, knelt beside the rocker. “C’mon, kid. It’s not safe.”
Kate watched her sister look up at him.
“I’m not leaving.” Gripping the edges of the afghan and pulling it taut against her back, she sank deeper into the cradle of the rocking chair. Her voice sounded raspy and tired, and a clap of thunder tapped her willpower.
The wind grew louder. It sounded like a howling wolf for a second and then a train. The roar became deafening. Debris hit the house. The roof rattled and banged.
Kate looked up.
Doogie moved the box spring and bedframe to the window, struggling to position them against the mattress. He looked back at Kate.
Elise picked up the weathered copy of Where the Darkness Hides from the floor. With the soft lantern light illuminating her face, she set the book in her lap and opened the cover.
Doogie looked puzzled. “We don’t have time for this.”
Elise read out loud, raising her voice over the shrieking wind.
“We don’t have time for this,” Doogie yelled. He turned to Kate. “Do something.”
Kate listened to the roar of the wind. Something massive hit the side of the house. The impact was loud and shook the walls. What could she do? If their number was up, she couldn't possibly do anything to prevent it. And at least they'd be going as a family, together. She dropped to the floor, next to Elise. Doc scurried to her, his tail raised high, and hopped onto her thigh. He stood on his hind legs and pawed at Kate with his single arm.
Thunder rocked the house, and Elise stopped reading. She turned toward the bedroom door. Doc let out a series of warning chirps and clicks. Kate heard it too. A pounding that seemed separate from the rain beating the exterior of the house. BAM! BAM! BAM! Intense. Determined. It sounded different from the wind.
It was coming from downstairs.
The hairs on the back of Kate’s neck rose. Another BAM! BAM! BAM! She definitely didn’t imagine it. She turned to Doogie. His eyes widened.
“That’s the front door,” he said. “Someone’s at the door.”
Meet the Author:
JC Gatlin lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes mystery novels that include sunny Florida locales and quirky locals as characters. His last novel, H_NGM_N: Murder is the Word, won the coveted Florida Royal Palm Literary Award for Best Mystery in 2019. He is active in the Florida Writer’s Association and is a board member on the Florida Writer’s Foundation, a charity organization that fights illiteracy.
connect with the author: website ~ facebook ~ linkedin ~ goodreads
DARKNESS HIDES by J.C. Gatlin took me on a mystery filled journey along side boat safety instructor Kate Parks. I enjoyed the background of Kate as a past Fish and Wildlife officer and now as a boat safety instructor. This background made her unique upon a mystery genre typically filled with officers and agents as main characters.
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