Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley is the third book in the Memphis Cold Case series. Any series set in Memphis must eventually delve into its famous resident, Elvis Presley. Bradley combines a riveting mystery with some fun facts about the Elvis Week that includes a tribute contest.
Homicide detective Rachel Sloan must endure interviewing an Elvis impersonator, Vic Vegas, who wants her to look into the death of his friend, another impersonator that happened years ago. He entices her by claiming that his death is related to her mother’s murder, which has never been solved. After Vic turns up dead she and her supervisor, Lieutenant Boone Callahan join forces to find out who killed Vic and if there are any ties to the past cases. What they discover places all of them, particularly Rachel, in harm’s way.
This is not the first time they have worked together. In the previous book, Justice Buried, they joined forces, she a burglary detective, while he was a homicide detective. Their relationship went beyond professional when they dated for a few weeks. Now that she has switched to homicide, with Boone as her supervisor, any relationship between them is prohibited. Even though they still seem to have a chemistry between them their painful past history must be sorted out before they have any chance at reconciliation.
Elise Cooper: Why Elvis?
Patricia Bradley: Since it was set in Memphis I knew one of the books in this series had to be centered around him. I consider him a local made good. We went up to Graceland and took a picture by the gate with the guitars. We were all proud of him. Although I have to admit I never met him and never listened to a lot of his songs.
EC: Does this story remind you of the Dixie Chicks song, “Goodbye Earl?”
PB: I never heard of this song, but now I must listen to it. I knew quite a few people who were either physically or emotionally abused. The girl in the story, who was beaten with her dad’s belt, Shirley, reminded me of women beaten by their fathers, and I did see what happened to those girls.
EC: The book refers to the guilt of those who were not around to save their loved ones from being murdered?
PB: I based that guilt on me. When I was in sixth grade I had a friend, whose father murdered her and her mother. I was supposed to have a sleepover that night, but cancelled. I always felt if I had gone maybe I could have done something. In the story Rachel felt that way also. Maybe if she was home she could have prevented her mother from being murdered.
EC: How would you describe Rachel?
PB: Independent, stubborn, strong, a competitor. She has a desire to prove to her father she is capable and worthy of love since he seemed to ignore her. She is definitely career oriented and married the first time because she was manipulated. But with Boone she has someone who is more giving and is willing to sacrifice to make it work.
EC: Did you have problems working in the relationship aspect?
PB: My editor had me re-write some scenes. With what is happening today, he could not be her supervisor and make advances. It really affected how I wrote the story. Writers have to be careful of current events because if they write something it might backfire.
EC: There is an intense scene at Elmwood Cemetery. Is it real?
PB: Yes, buried here are the very rich to the very poor. It is a garden cemetery with large trees and gothic-like columns. I think it was started during the Yellow Fever Epidemic. It has eighty acres and is situated in the heart of Memphis. Because it has a park-like setting people come and have picnics while visiting their deceased loved ones.
EC: Why did you make Boone an Iraqi War veteran?
PB: I have a friend who has had three tours of duty in Afghanistan. I also knew the book was going to come out about a week after Memorial Day. We call it Decoration Day in the South. Many go to the graves and place flowers after cleaning up the graveyard for those who paid the ultimate price.
EC: Did you write Boone as a veteran to give a shout out?
PB: I think many of us take our soldiers for granted. They have given up and sacrificed so much for us. My friend who is serving told me that he must leave his family for a year without seeing them. I think many of us do not understand how the soldiers are away from their loved ones, as civilians we have no idea. Many times, we fail to let them know how we appreciate their service.
EC: How would you describe Boone?
PB: A leader, micro-manager, perfectionist, who seeks justice. He likes to push people to be their best and will never accept defeat.
EC: In the beginning Shirley was a sympathetic character, but not in the end?
PB: My characters reveal themselves in little bits and pieces. Many times, it takes the whole book before they disclose themselves. At first, I hit a blank wall with Shirley. Maybe because I was resistant to get into her head. After speaking with some friends of mine who were experts I knew I would write her as a narcissist psychopath. This story follows her reasoning.
EC: How would you describe Erin?
PB: She is based on a real person. My friend’s child had something happen to her at birth so she never fully developed mentally or emotionally. She had once asked her mother, ‘Am I someone special?’ I wanted to show her she was special which is why I wrote in the Erin character and dedicated the book to her. In fact, her mother is going to buy her a necklace like the one on the book cover. The reason I made her a hero who helped to solve the crime is that I want to make sure we look on those like Erin as real people who contribute to our society.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next books?
PB: The last in this series will focus on Boone’s boss who started the Cold Case unit after his wife’s murder went unsolved. It will also deal with human trafficking and a counselor who has personal experience with it. I am also working on a new series that will probably come out in 2020 and is set in Mississippi that involves Park Rangers. I might even write a cozy mystery set on a paddle boat steamer.