Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose will keep readers guessing and thinking. It has thrills, suspense, psychological analyses, and a bit of romance. People are kept at the edge of their seats by a story that delves into intense subjects such as cults, pedophiles, torture, abuse, alcohol dependency, anxiety attacks, and PTSD.
Although the first novel in a new series, it draws on characters from the Baltimore series. The heroine, Daisy Dawson, should be recognizable to those readers who have read Rose in the past. She is a cross-over character whose story is told front and center in this debut. Having moved to Sacramento she is confronted by a disguised gunman who pulls her into an alley. Instead of fleeing she uses the skills taught by her dad. As the attacker bolts, Daisy pulls a locket off his neck. A good friend, Sacramento PD Detective Rafe Sokolov, comes to her rescue and brings his old friend, FBI Special Agent Gideon Reynolds. After doing some investigating it becomes clear this attacker is actually a serial killer who preys on young women. Knowing she needs a defender, Reynolds is asked to be a part of her protection detail. For him it is personal, since he recognized the locket’s significance. The cult forces teenage women to wear these lockets after marrying them young. Together Daisy and Gabriel are determined to stop this vicious killer and find the cult he escaped from.
Both the hero and heroine are mending from emotional problems. She is a recovering alcoholic that has anxiety, while he wrestles with his memories of the cult’s abuse. Daisy was forced to live a sheltered and isolated life by her father who believed her sister, Taylor was being hunted. Daisy must come to grips with her father for uprooting their lives. She gravitates towards Gideon because he too is trying to come to grips with his past. When he was a young child, his mother got involved with a cult that advocated forced marriages as soon as a young girl turned twelve and welded a locket around her neck which claimed ownership of her. Boys at thirteen were considered men and began apprenticeships which also included pedophilia. Gideon was nearly beaten to death after he objected and killed the man who was trying to rape him. He barely escaped with his life.
Although this book is 600+ pages, there are a lot of moving parts from start to finish. Yet, it’s an amazingly fast read given the size of the book, since these pages are jam-packed with wall-to-wall action and heart-stopping, page-turning suspense. Say You’re Sorry is something Karen Rose will not have to do with this debut novel of her new series, because she has written a riveting and thrilling novel.
Elise Cooper: Why a new series?
Karen Rose: One of my series has finished and I wanted to start writing something new. I wanted to do some stuff with my older characters, but also write something fresh. I proposed this new series and my editor loved it, so here it is.
EC: How did you come up with the idea for this intense serial killer?
KR: This is a serial killer who has been hanging around in my head for about five years. I have to tell you a funny story. I met a man on an airplane who is a private pilot that combined charter services and corporation time shares. As he talked about all these places he visited in such a short period of time I looked at him and said, ‘you would make a perfect serial killer because there is no pattern.’ He looked at me and became very upset. I told him I write thriller novels, but he still did not speak with me the rest of the flight.
EC: Why Sacramento?
KR: I have characters from all over the country, but never set a story on the West Coast. I thought how this could be a good place for a book. It is a large enough city; yet, does not have a big city feel. There is a law enforcement hierarchy. Also, I had been visiting in California for my writing retreats. It is so beautiful and remote where we stay. I thought about what could be hidden in remote areas and the idea of the cult popped up. This is an over-arching story in this series and will probably be in the next couple of books. It is actually loosely based on my college experience.
EC: Can you talk about what happened to you?
KR: I was a member of a Maryland Baptist Congregation while in college. My future husband and brother-in-law found out our minister was a fraud and for years embezzled money from the Church. He also faked a psychology degree and slept with the women he was counseling, not to mention that he beat his children. I thought everyone would think he was a bad man and should leave. But I was naïve, because the Church split into three factions. One thought he should go; some people wanted him to stay; and others left to join another congregation. Those who wanted to keep the pastor actually made death threats to my husband and his brother.
EC: How did you integrate your personal story into this novel?
KR: I started to think what would have happened if this charismatic pastor took a group of people aligned with him and started his own church in a remote area. Since my daughter just received her degree in religious studies she helped me build up the cult.
EC: What about the serial killer?
KR: He is a person that is capable of monstrous deeds. To make a villain believable they must not be cardboard cutouts like Snidely Whiplash who just twirls his mustache and goes wah-ha-ha. They have to have a vulnerability, something they care about. This killer had a messed-up childhood. I wanted to explore why others like the hero Gideon who has a horrific childhood do not become killers. I am fascinated why some do and some do not.
EC: FBI Agent Tom Hunter seems familiar?
KR: I keep a spreadsheet I call book years of all my characters. He will get his own book in this series. Readers might remember him as the son of a heroine in my first book that was published in 2003. Then he was fourteen years old, but now, after a progression of years, I can make sure he has a book. It was fun when I realized I was going to bring him back.
EC: You have written abused, handicapped and gay characters?
KR: I have included a diverse set of characters, many who will get their own book. I want the characters to be real and invested in the story. We in the media can present to the world that those who are ‘supposedly different’ are people that are not so different than the rest of society.
EC: Brutus was so cute?
KR: I enjoyed writing the scenes with the dogs. Brutus is a therapy dog. I got a lot of the ideas from one of my editors that trains therapy dogs. I wrote the scenes with Brutus because I want readers to understand what a true service dog does. Daisy has her dog to help her with anxiety and keep it under control so it doesn’t become a threat to her sobriety. We are even giving away some stuffed Brutus’ at the conferences. I am losing my hearing so I am looking for a service dog of my own. Hopefully, one like Brutus.
EC: Service dogs are very useful?
KR: My younger daughter is deaf and her anxiety comes from her disability. Recently, she was followed, which scared her and me. It is nerve racking that as a deaf person anyone can sneak up to her at any time. We have been talking about getting her a service dog as well.
EC: How would you describe Daisy?
KR: Pragmatic headstrong, and tough, but mistrustful. Someone who wants a life that was denied her. A lot of this book is her coming to terms with her past and to have a relationship with her father. She likes to have control over her own environment.
EC: How would you describe Gideon?
KR: He is Daisy’s anchor and has helped her gain trust. He is very grounded who holds the strings of her kite. I thought of the movie with Gregory Peck, “The Big Country.” In it Peck is a solid and quiet guy who will never get in your face. He knows he is a strong man and does not have to prove it to anyone.
EC: How would you describe the Sokolov family?
KR: I had not done a strong family unit I created this family. In my previous books the characters had to make their own families that in many ways had a stronger bond than families who are related. I love the idea of community. The Sokolovs are very good people. They will mother/father anyone they come into contact with. In Sacramento, there is a large Russian population and before writing these characters I spoke with a few folks who emigrated here and assimilated into American society.
EC: A hint about your next book?
KR: It will be Rafe Sokolov and Gideon’s sister, Mercy’s story. There will be levels of villains.
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