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The Big Thrill Discusses A STRANGER IN THE FAMILY With A.J. McCarthy

Book Cover: A Stranger In The FamilyShanna McGuire is convinced a strange man is following her. When he approaches her on the street, he shocks her with a story that makes her question her family history. She asks Simm to investigate the man’s claim. A simple case of genealogy and the search for a possible treasure are perfect for Simm, a former private investigator, and his wife Charlie, both pub owners in Downtown Montreal.

Simm’s research uncovers a dark period in Quebec’s past when unwanted babies were left in orphanages to suffer years of abuse and deprivation. Decades later, the corruption of the era is revived as the straightforward case takes a dangerous turn with threats, violence, and homicide.

Charlie and Simm question the wisdom of carrying on when their lives and the lives of those around them are threatened. Determined to see it through, the couple fights to sever the web of lies and betrayal to discover the link between seemingly-interconnected crimes while racing against the clock to avert another murder.

A.J. McCarthy

A.J. McCarthy

A.J. McCarthy recently spent time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, A STRANGER IN THE FAMILY.

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

Yes, definitely. I was having a conversation with two co-workers. One of them had been adopted as an infant and was searching for her birth parents. Another told me a story about her cousin who was approached on a bus by a stranger who claimed they were sisters. My mind whirled with ideas. One of my co-workers looked at me and said, “You’re planning a book, aren’t you?” I was.

How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

The incident mentioned previously happened while I was writing The Other Side, the 2nd book of the series. It killed me to put the idea on ice until I was ready, but I needed to concentrate on one project at a time.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

One of the characters in this novel spent his childhood in an orphanage in Montreal. This was during a period of Quebec’s history that is named The Great Darkness, partly because of the mistreatment of orphans. Although the subject isn’t the central part of the mystery, I wanted to expose it, and I hope it raises at least a small amount of awareness of abuse towards children and the helpless.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

I am currently working on two novellas that will be prequels to the series, one for each of the main characters, Charlie and Simm. Then, I plan to write a fourth in the series featuring a character from a previous novel.


A.J. McCarthy is the author of mystery suspense novels, including the Charlie & Simm mystery series, along with other standalones. Her novels are primarily set in her home province of Quebec or in other areas of Canada, drawing upon places she has visited. She is recently venturing into novellas and short stories as a creative outlet, while planning her next installment in the series. She’s a member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. When she isn’t writing, chances are she is reading.

To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.



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