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Four and a half years ago, Maggie Frye served as special prosecutor in a remote mountain county in Commonwealth of Virginia v. J.D. Carson. Shaking off echoes of the family tragedy that drove her to be a prosecutor, she did her damnedest, but still is rattled when the jury finds Carson not guilty.

But now another young woman has been killed in chillingly similar circumstances.

Either Maggie prosecuted the right man and got the wrong verdict or she prosecuted the wrong man and got the right verdict. Either way, a murderer went free to strike again.

And there is J.D. Carson — not only still in town, but far too close to the investigation for Maggie’s comfort. This time Maggie’s going to get it right…no matter what it costs her.

USA Today bestselling author Patricia McLinn met up with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest thriller, PROOF OF INNOCENCE:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

PROOF OF INNOCENCE is a fusion of mystery, romance, some suspense. It’s complex, with a murder trial from 4 1/2 years before the main events and one well back in prosecutor Maggie Frye’s past casting long shadows on today.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

PROOF OF INNOCENCE is a brand-new book for me, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the fictional Fairlington County, Virginia (based on Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax in northern Virginia). It will be the first of at least two books, possibly three, as Maggie and her two cousins finally face and work through a family tragedy that scarred them. (Book 2, Price of Innocence, will be out in 2019.)

Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?

My muse has been agitating to write this story for ages. My then-agent didn’t think it was a wise career move. Four talented authors read an early version and were split – two liked my vision, two wanted it become a the-world-might-blow-up thriller (not my vision).
I put it in the closet.
It kept kicking the door.
I couldn’t stand it any longer. I took it out of the closet and worked and worked on it. Keeping it true to the original vision, but making it as strong as possible.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

PROOF OF INNOCENCE is not as humorous as my previous Caught Dead in Wyoming cozy mystery series. The protagonist, prosecutor Maggie Frye had a family tragedy in her early teens she feels responsible for… Though, okay, there is some humor because we all know I can’t help myself.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

A friend introduced me to mysteries right out of college. We had finished a masters program in Journalism, and we were buddies throughout the program. I had never read them.

I started with mostly classics, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, and some of the mysteries by Georgette Heyer. A lot of them included humour along with the mysteries, and I loved that.


USA Today bestselling author Patricia McLinn spent more than 20 years as an editor at the Washington Post after stints as a sports writer (Rockford, Ill.) and assistant sports editor (Charlotte, NC). She received BA and MSJ degrees from Northwestern University.

McLinn is the author of more than 40 published novels, which are cited by readers and reviewers for wit and vivid characterization. Her books include mysteries, contemporary western romances, contemporary romances elsewhere in the world, historical romances, and women’s fiction. They have topped bestseller lists and won numerous awards.

She has spoken about writing from Melbourne, Australia, to Washington, D.C., including being a guest speaker at the Smithsonian Institution.

She is now living in Northern Kentucky, and writing full-time. Patricia loves to hear from readers through her website, Facebook and Twitter.