State Trooper Jim Duncan’s quiet overnight shift turns deadly when fire destroys a ski lodge at a local resort and the first responders find a man’s body inside. What starts as a suspicious accident quickly becomes sinister when the autopsy proves the victim is not the man who rented the cabin. Jim’s left with three questions. Who is John Doe? Why was he at the ski lodge? And who hated him enough to kill him?
Assistant Public Defender Sally Castle, still reeling after the events of several months earlier, tries to bury her feelings of guilt and fear in her work. When an anonymous note from a secret admirer arrives at the courthouse, she brushes it off as an empty threat. As the missives, each one darker than the last, continue to arrive at her office as well as her home, Sally is forced to review all of the possibilities. Is the letter writer a person from her legal past? Or is the threat closer to home?
As the questions multiply, Jim and Sally are thrown into a race to find a murderer as well as a stalker…before Sally ends up facing more than an unwanted pen pal.
The Big Thrill caught up with author Liz Milliron, and she was kind enough to take a few minutes and discuss the second installment of her Laurel Highlands mystery series, HEAVEN HAS NO RAGE:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I always want readers to be entertained, first and foremost. They’ve given me two of their most precious commodities—time and money. I don’t want them to feel either was wasted.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
As with many mystery writers, I have to credit Agatha Christie with a love of the mystery genre. Some criticize her as “cheating,” but there’s a reason her books have sold so well for so long, and continue to be adapted for other media. Also, I’m a huge fan of Mary Higgins Clark. Her writing has a way of seizing you by the throat and not letting go until the last page. It’s something I hope to come close to with my own writing.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
The biggest challenge was also the biggest opportunity: growing the characters of Jim and Sally. When you write a series, you want your characters to evolve and change (in a good way) and not stay stagnant. At the same time, you don’t want them to be too perfect because that’s unrealistic. I wanted Jim and Sally to learn from the events of the first book, while staying true to themselves and avoiding making the same mistakes over and over.
Liz Milliron is the author of the Laurel Highlands mystery series, featuring a Pennsylvania State Trooper and a Fayette County public defender in the scenic Laurel Highlands of southwest Pennsylvania. The first in the series, Root of All Evil, was released in August 2018. Liz’s short fiction includes stories with the same characters in Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales and The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos, as well as stories in Mystery Most Historical, Fish out of Water, and Blood on the Bayou. She is a past president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime, as well as a member of International Thriller Writers and Pennwriters. Liz and her husband live outside Pittsburgh with their two teenagers and a retired-racer greyhound.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.