Thursday, January 12, 2023

Blog Tour: Excerpt from Dead Reckoning by Lea O'Harra

Dead Reckoning by Lea O'Harra

Dead Reckoning by Lea O'Harra

Dead Reckoning by Lea O'Harra
Publisher: Sharpe Books-UK (Sept 29, 2022) 
Category: Crime Fiction, Family Life, Kidnapping 
Tour dates: January 5-31, 2023
 ISBN: Coming Soon 
ASIN: B0BGYG3HGX Available in Print and ebook, 289 pages Dead Reckoning

Indiana, January 2010. It’s a hot summer’s day in 1984 when twelve-year-old Gilly and her friend Sally find a dead new-born in a shoebox in the cemetery of their tiny town. Deciding to keep their discovery a secret, they bury the body in Gilly’s yard. The results are disastrous. Flowers are mysteriously left on strollers. Two local children disappear and end up dead. A suspect is arrested and confesses, blaming the deaths on the girls’ having taken the dead baby. Gilly grows up but is haunted by what’s happened. As a young woman, she flees the town and its memories, going all the way to Japan. Returning with her Japanese husband Toshi to attend her mother’s funeral, Gilly finds the past is not past. She’s threatened, and someone is putting flowers on strollers again. When another child is abducted, Gilly knows she must discover the truth about what happened all those years ago before more lives are lost.

Enjoy this excerpt:

Chapter One


I wonder if there’s any redemption, any forgiveness for our sins. I’m thinking of my own

crimes, of course. Can allowances be made for age? I was only twelve after all. Or for intention? I meant no harm. It occurs to me I’ve returned home not only to bury my mother but also to bury regrets. I’m desperate to escape the black cloud that’s shadowed my life for twenty-six years.

 Some houses hold secrets. In my case, it’s not the house itself—not my childhood home in northern Indiana—but an old elm standing to the right of it, just beyond the porch. It’s under that tree that my friend Sally and I buried a dead baby girl we’d found in the town cemetery a few hours earlier, in a box hidden in the long grass.

 Now, decades later, standing on the porch as an adult on a chilly winter’s day, I look over at the tree. Advanced age, Dutch elm disease and a few storms have nearly done for it. It’s half its former size now: just a two-foot trunk with a few shoots sticking out of it. It looks innocuous enough. But even seeing the tree in that truncated state brings it all back. What Sally and I had done was in haste, almost without thought. And yet. And yet. The results were disastrous. We ended up getting our lives derailed and our friendship ruined. We even inadvertently caused other deaths. And it was all because we were two silly little girls who wanted to keep our discovery a secret.

 I shake my head. I can’t bear to remember. It’s said we can escape worrying about the past and fearing for the future by focusing on the here and now. So, I try to distract myself by looking around. I haven’t been back in ages. I wonder if I can see my old home through the eyes of a dispassionate observer.

 But when I look around, what I experience isn’t the distraction of curiosity, the stirring of interest in how it may have changed since I last saw it. It’s dismay. Horror even. And then I feel surprise because my husband, never the most intuitive type, seems to have read my mind. “A dump!” Toshi says, frowning.

 My thought exactly. A dump! I was last here in 2007, over three years ago, flying to Chicago from Osaka and then making the two-hour drive home. The house and grounds weren’t so bad then. Now the place looks derelict, abandoned, uncared for. Did Mom give up?

 A dump! It’s a two-story wooden house set in a grassy yard that was crowded with flowers, bushes, and trees when I was a child. It’s big and solid and has a front porch. I used to be proud I lived here.

 No more. The house needs a new coat of paint, one of the porch pillars is rotting, the windows are dirty, and the yard is a tangle of weeds. Most of the trees bordering the road have been cut down, reduced to ugly little stumps.

 I walk over to the old red porch swing. A few seat slats are cracked. I want to sit down, curl up with my legs under me like I used to do on long hot summer afternoons. But the swing looks so rickety I imagine it would collapse under my weight. I peer through a window into the living room. The curtains are drawn so I see only my own reflection.

 A woman in her late thirties stares back at me. She has a wan, pinched face, a worried expression, long dark hair scraped back. She’s not unattractive, but she doesn’t seem to like herself. Given the state of her clothes and her appearance, she doesn’t take care of herself. She frowns at me.

 I turn away impatiently, noticing how the bright red shininess of the rental car we collected at O’Hare on arrival—-a Mazda—-makes everything around it look old, ugly. Weeds thrust up between the slabs of the sidewalk I used to play hopscotch on with Sally.

 “I’m tired,” Toshi whines.

 I wish he hadn’t come. I wish Mom was still alive. I wish…many things! Most of all, I wish I was twelve again. That I could tell Sally I didn’t want to play in the cemetery. That Sally hadn’t been so bossy. That I’d put my foot down, saying, “I hate going there, it gives me the creeps,” and walked home alone.

 If only I had. Then we wouldn’t have found the dead baby girl. Two children wouldn’t have died because we decided to keep her a secret. I wouldn’t feel I needed to expiate my crime committed unwittingly so many years ago.

 Other wishes. I wish I’d visited Mom more. I wish my husband still loved me. I wish I still loved him.

 One of Mom’s favorite expressions: If wishes were horses, beggars wouldn’t walk.

 I wish. I wish. I wish. But it’s too late.

 Mom! I deserve to be punished! How could I have been so heartless, not coming back for all of three years when she kept begging me to? I’d written long letters. I’d called. But I knew what she wanted. It was to see me in the flesh. That regret, that guilt will haunt me for the rest of my life. I blame that poor little dead baby. Coming back here would have meant remembering her, confronting the memories again. I shudder, realizing that’s exactly what I’m doing now.


© Lea O’Harra



Praise Dead Reckoning by Lea O'Harra

"Both a drama and a thriller, full of twists and human insight."-Thomas Waugh “The immediate declaration of past events,  the discovery and concealment of the dead baby, provides a gripping start to this book. The story is simple yet powerful, immediately drawing the reader into a world that identifies the challenges of growing up in a small town in Indiana. The book tackles the casual racism that is often overlooked, with great clarity. Although this is a crime novel it is also a powerful story about how a single childhood event can influence the future. It compels you to share the history and become part of the small-town network. Through a nexus of characters, we see how relationships that are made in our formative years, affect our lives. The story is more than a crime novel. It also serves to gives a fascinating insight into life in a small town in the USA, through the eyes of somebody who never really wanted to return."-ReallyPoshScouser, Amazon

Praise Lea O'Harra

“Lea O'Harra offers us a whodunnit set in a Japan labouring under the weight of cultural imperialism, a country where the characters find that their friends and lovers are really strangers  and imperfect ones at that...-Nick Sweet, author of the Inspector Velázquez series ’With her deep knowledge of Japanese culture, superb writing, and sensitivity to human foibles. O’Harra has crafted a cross-cultural whodunnit sure to please Japanophiles and mystery lovers alike.”-Suzanne Kamata, author of Losing Kei

Awards Lea O'Harra

Autumn 2017 “Lady First” was awarded ‘finalist’ status in the crime fiction section of the Beverly Hill Book Awards. ‘Lady First’ was also a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards in 2018.

Dead Reckoning by Lea O'HarraAbout Lea O'Harra

Lea O’Harra has published three crime fiction novels set in rural modern-day Japan: Imperfect Strangers (2015); Progeny (2016); and Lady First (2017). These comprise the so-called ‘Inspector Inoue Murder Mystery’ series originally published by Endeavour Press (UK). She has also had a story included in Best Asian Crime Fiction published by Kitaab Press (Singapore) in 2020. In the spring of 2022 Sharpe Books reissued the Inoue mystery series and, in September 2022, published Lea O’Harra’s fourth novel, Dead Reckoning, a stand-alone set in her tiny hometown in the American Midwest. Website: Twitter: Facebook: Instagram: Pinterest:

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Giveaway Dead Reckoning by Lea O'Harra

This giveaway is for 3 print copies and is open worldwide. This giveaway ends on February 1, 2023 midnight, pacific time. Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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1 comment:

Teddy Rose said...

Thanks so much for hosting! We are looking forward to reading your thoughts on the book on Jan 25th.