Welcome to today’s TeaserTuesday blog hop, interview and review! Today we are featuring Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author Loreth Anne White.
Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White
Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White is based on a true crime podcast. It has so many twists and turns readers may get dizzy.
The plot has true crime podcaster Trinity Scott looking to make a name for herself, and her brand-new series may just be the one to make her a household name. The subject is Clayton Jay Pelley who more than two decades ago confessed to the brutal murder of teenage student Leena Rai. He was her guidance counselor and a respected member of the community. But why he killed her has always been a mystery.
In a series of exclusive interviews from prison, Clayton discloses to Trinity the truth about what happened that night beneath Devil’s Bridge. It’s not what anyone in the Pacific Northwest town of Twin Falls expects. Clayton says he didn’t do it.
As her listeners increase and ratings skyrocket, Trinity is missing a key player in the story: Rachel Walczak, the retired detective who exposed Pelley’s twisted urges and put him behind bars. She’s not interested in playing Clayton’s game. But after Trinity reveals secrets about Rachel’s family the former detective begins to question everything, she thinks she knows about the past case.
There are many layers to this story. Intertwining the setting makes the mystery even more riveting. The two timelines enhance the plot with the podcast being in the present and Rachel’s observations in the past. Readers will be kept guessing as the author brings in suspect after suspect.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
Loreth Anne White: The story grew out of the threads of a horrific true crime that occurred in a nearby part of my world. My eldest daughter was not far apart in age from the victim, and I saw echoes of the circumstances of that crime in my own small town. I suspect a lot of mothers did. And the unsettling emotions never left me. In crafting a work of fiction based on the facts of that crime I wanted to convey the idea that: If it takes a village—a community—to raise a child, does it also take a village to kill one? When something like this happens, are we not all a little complicit, even in our silence, or in just looking the other way?
EC: You said it was inspired by a true crime-what part of the book is true and what is not?
LAW: Elements drawn from the real-life case include the manner of the victim’s death beneath a bridge, how she was found in the water, and the autopsy/coroner’s findings, which were also detailed in court. Aspects of the victimology are gleaned from the true crime as well. A Russian rocket did in fact fall to earth on the night of that murder—we watched it streak across the sky above the mountains where we live when the terrible thing was happening under a bridge not that far away. The rocket exploding across the sky anchored things in the memories of witnesses and others involved, and I used this concept in the fictional re-working of the crime.
EC: Why this setting?
LAW: I moved the crime to a fictional setting based on a small town I know well, about a 45 minute drive from where I live. I’ve watched this town over the years morphing (not always comfortably) from a resource-based logging and railway community with a stinking pulp mill across the water into a tourism/recreation gateway for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, and sightseeing. I’ve seen the challenges faced by old timers who were thrust into an increasingly diverse and younger environment with different values on everything from environment to climate and politics. I felt that their battle in the heart of this town echoed the circumstances around the crime.
EC: Why Devil’s Bridge
LAW: The name of my fictional bridge, Devil’s Bridge is designed to play with the fairytale concept of a troll, or something ‘evil’ or dangerous, that lurks below a bridge/crossing from one side to another. Again, the idea is that bad things can come out of uneasy transitions – from youth to adulthood, from resource town to something else … etc. I’d originally been working with a different title and my wonderful agent suggested I use the name of my bridge.
EC: How would you describe the personality of Rachel?
LAW: Rachel is every mother who wants to protect her child but even with best intentions, things don’t always work out. She’s the older woman in the mirror of my younger Trinity. Both are sleuths. One represents the past, the other the future. One is trying to expose the past, another is possibly trying to protect it. Again, this is an echo of what the town itself is transitioning through.
EC: How would you describe the personality of Maddy?
LAW: Maddy is representative of many teenage girls trying to fit in, to belong, and making mistakes, then trying to deal with the repercussions they have created through their actions. She’s also unsettled by problems in her parents’ relationship.
EC: How would you describe the killer?
LAW: The killer is also a creation of circumstances. The community in which the killer lives has fostered these circumstances.
EC: How would you describe Clay?
LAW: Clay struggles with mental illness. He struggles with trying to be well, and to be whole, and to be good person, but he can’t get there and does untold damage to others in the process.
EC: How would you describe Leena?
LAW: Leena is every teen who can’t fit into a mold created by a society. She is misunderstood, and lonely, and wishes to be loved and admired. Sadly, being cut out of the teenage herd like this sets her up to become easy prey to a predator.
EC: In the book questions are asked-can you answer them:
Why does a seemingly normal person suddenly cross the line into violent crime?
LAW: I think the story tries to answer why a person crosses the line into violent crime. It’s not necessarily sudden. It can be insidious. It can happen because too many people look the other way in the face of small warning signs. It can happen because a narrative is created in which it becomes easier to cross that line.
EC: Why that particular victim?
LAW: The victim is an outsider for a number of reasons, and this, combined with her desperate need to be accepted and loved makes her vulnerable.
EC: This book is about secrets, walls, truth, and how far would a parent go to protect their loved ones? Please explain
LAW: Sometimes that first tiny lie, even by omission can be so easy. Ignoring those little niggling warning signs can seem like no big deal. But once the lines are crossed, the human brain can create seemingly rational justifications or alternate explanations for truths we’d rather not see. And then it goes too far.
EC: You explore many issues in this book: Can you explain why a certain issue was chosen?
Porn addiction, Alcohol addiction, Affairs, Sex with a minor, Hypnosis, Bullying
LAW: In many ways the complex issues of addiction (porn and alcohol), extramarital affairs, sex with a minor, and bullying can all be boiled down (in some form) to humans trying to cope, albeit in maladjusted ways—with terrible loss, grief, PTSD, loneliness, lack of support or love or friendship, or belonging, or with change, or betrayal. The hypnosis is a device with which to illustrate how, in digging into the unconscious, we can sometimes learn more about the truths that drive these destructive behaviors. Truths we can hide even from our own consciousness. In some ways digging into the psyche is like Trinity digging into the truths behind the old crime, and the truths and lies that drove the town.
EC: A heads up about your next book?
LAW: Thank you for asking! My next book is The Patient’s Secret that comes out in March 2022. The backstory for this one was also inspired, at the heart, by a horrific true crime, and has an element of true crime as a narrative thread. It’s a domestic suspense/procedural which my agent describes as LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE meets BIG LITTLE LIES. A family drama, stirred with jealous, backstabbing, suspicious suburban moms and murder. I like to think of it as a poisoned candy apple: a promise of glossy entertainment/candy on the outside, but with a bitter core of a dark and toxic truth.
Hello book lovers, welcome back to our Tuesday post. This includes #TeaserTuesday, #BookBeginnings and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros. Enjoy!
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros
I’m also taking part in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros
Every Tuesday Yvonne @ Socrates Book Reviews now hosts “First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros”, where readers share the first paragraph of a book that they are reading, have read, or plan to read soon.
Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White
True crime podcaster Trinity Scott is chasing breakout success, and her brand-new serial may get her there. Her subject if Clayton Jay Pelley. More than two decades ago, the respected family man and guidance counselor confessed to the brutal murder of teenage student Leena Rai, but why he killed her has always been a mystery.Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White
Looking forward to visiting your blogs and seeing what your Teaser Tuesday, Book Beginnings and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros are this week! Luv Sassy x
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