by Nike Chillemi (published by DESERT BREEZE)
The first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies?
Pediatric nurse, Katrina Lenart, grew up strong willed and independent minded, while sharing her mother's flair for high fashion. When the police chief gives her an orphaned baby to care for, her maternal instincts take over and she's willing to fight anyone who might not have the infant's best interests at heart, even the man she's growing to love. After an attempt is made to kidnap the baby, she and the resolute village detective team up and do some sleuthing, undercover at a cult as well as at a fancy ball.
Detective Ian Daltry is a widower with a child and is not interested in a new love. Hunting a killer who stops at nothing has placed him in the position where he must protect a beautiful young woman he's drawn to. Is there's something he's overlooked in analyzing the case? Will he find out what that is before this ruthless murderer kills someone he loves?
Interview with Nike
1. GOODBYE NOEL points to how universally celebrated Christmas was in the US in the 1940s. Can you talk about this?
In that time period, for many Americans, the Christmas season started with Advent and ended on January 6th with Epiphany. Children opened the windows of an Advent calendar each of the 40 days leading up to Christmas and inside they'd find a Scripture for the day. Nearly all the houses on any given street were decked out. Oh, the decorations might have been simpler, or homemade, but they were there. Every town square had not only a decorated tree, but a crèche. The season ended Epiphany (Twelfth Night, Three Kings Day) and children got small gifts that might be usefull such as pencils for school. The entire season was generally a very joyful time of year. "Merry Christmas" was heard on many lips.
2. You call the genre for this novel Historical Romantic Thriller. Why did you use that term?
My novels are known for having suspense, romance, and action in equal measure. GOODBYE NOEL reads like a thriller imbued with an intense lofe story. Ian and Katrina hunt a viscious killer and the killer just might be poised to strike at them or someone they love. I've been told it's a page turner. As they fall deeper and deeper in love, the stakes become higher. That's why I call it a romantic thriller.
3. Why did you write GOODBYE NOEL?
I wrote it to give hope. The story is set at the close of WWII, a time when the nation was recovering from the great and devestation losses of the war. And yet, it is a time of great courage and optimism in America. The people of that time were a get up and go generation. They often had little, but still had great style and panache. They strove to make something of themselves and of this nation. I hope my characters reflect the spirit of that era. Right now our country is facing a very difficult time. I hope this story transmits a little bit of can do spirit of an earlier era.
4. What was the hardest part of writing GOODBYE NOEL?
Research, reasearch, and more research. Was the particular model car I want to use driven in 1946/47? Did they use the phrase knock yourself out? They did. When did the first female doctor go into practice in the US...since I have a female doctor in the novel. I had to change my coroner into a highly educated medical examiner after taking a Romance Writers of America (RWA) course on historic forensics. The actual medical examiners on Long Island, NY at that time were capable professionals. Things like that have to be checked and double checked for accuracy.
5. Is faith a strong element in this novel?
Yes, very much so. Pediatric nurse Katrina Lenart and Det. Ian Daltry, who is a widower with some painful issues in his life, are both committed Christians. They share the intimacies of their souls as part of their love story. They communicate deep, deep feelings to each other and even a few things that are quite difficult to talk about. And they share their faith with each other and help each other to a stronger faith. How believers are helped by their faith is a central theme of the novel.
Chapt 5, scene 1Long Island, New York
Late December, 1946
Katrina wanted to throw Detective Daltry into a snow bank. The nerve of him, barging into their house twice in two days, demanding she bundle the baby up and take him into the cold. How could that man not recall their harrowing, nighttime drive through the storm of the decade? She tossed her hair back over her shoulder, and with great difficulty held her tongue.
Momma apparently had no such reservations. "Detective, what you are doing is very wrong."
Katrina came up beside her mother, to show a united front. "This is outrageous." Her eyes narrowed and she crossed her arms over her chest. She hated the tone of her voice, but this baby wasn't a ping-pong ball to be batted back and forth as the detective moved forward with his murder case.
He ignored her and continued addressing her mother.
"I'm sorry, ma'am." He removed his fedora. "Chief Ferguson has already made the necessary phone calls and arrangements have been made. I must take Leslie Janos Bauer with me to the home of his aunt in Bay Shore. The chief would prefer your daughter come along in an official capacity as a nurse. It's up to her, but I have to take the baby."
Momma's face flushed beet-red, a sure sign she'd become enraged. "This is not good for him… this hustle from place to place."
"With all due respect, ma'am, a child belongs with his family, if at all possible." The detective took a step toward Katrina. "Now, will you please fetch the baby." It wasn't a request.
Katrina made sure she stood tall. "Yes, I'll get Leslie." She clenched her fists at her side and jutted her chin. "This is disgraceful. You are using this infant to solve your murder case. Perhaps your own tragic life experience clouds your judgment?"
His mouth fell open and he took a step back.
"If you have it within your heart, give me one minute. I'll get him ready and get my coat and boots on." Without giving him a chance to reply, Katrina turned and stormed up the stairs.
Leslie lay sleeping in the baby-doll cradle Poppa had made for her when she was a little girl. Poppa had that kind of talent. He could make anything. In her heart she knew, he'd figured it would be her baby's bassinet. At least now, it had a real purpose. She ran a finger over the hand carved leaves in the headboard.
"Milachku, time to wake up." She took the infant into her arms inhaling the smell of baby, sweeter than the most expensive imported perfume.
Leslie yawned and she snuggled her nose in the soft folds of skin between his head and shoulder, kissing his neck. He cooed, so safe in her arms.
She brought him to her heart, holding him, rocking him and spoke softly to her reflection in the mirror above her bureau. "Fat chance I'll ever walk down the aisle or have a family of my own with the man shortage since the war." Something deep in the core of her female-self rebelled, a throbbing turbulence, from which deep hunger erupted.
She stroked Leslie's cheek and made a funny face. The softness of his skin melted her heart.
He smiled at her and kicked.
"I'm so sorry. I promised I'd protect you and I can't." She forced a smile and made clucking noises.
He grabbed her hair and yanked.
"Ouch." She laughed, removing strands of her hair from his little fist.
A tear escaped and ran down the side of her cheek. "I can do this." She lifted her chin, sucked in a long breath, wrapped Leslie in a heavy quilt, and picked up his tote bag.