It's my pleaser to have Susan Page Davis, a fellow ACFW member and author on Monthly Smiles. Her latest novel, Found Art is part of her Maine Justice Series.
Susan Page Davis is the author of more than seventy published novels. She’s a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award and the Will Rogers Medallion, and also a winner of the Carol Award and a finalist in the WILLA Literary Awards. A Maine native, she now lives in Kentucky.
Susan, What do you enjoy doing when you not writing?
I love doing things with my family, traveling, and reading. I also enjoy family history and needlework, though I haven’t had much time for those lately.
What inspired you to write Found Art?
Found Art is the third book in my Maine Justice series. I wanted a mystery for the hero’s detective unit to solve, but one that his new bride could also get involved in. The series began when I saw a film that I thought ended “the wrong way.” I thought how it could have gone in a totally different direction. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write a story that took the direction my mind took, and The Priority Unit (book 1) was born.
How did you choose the title of your book?
The expression “found art” means art pieces created from everyday materials or items not usually considered to be items from which art is made. But in this case, it has a double meaning when the Priority Unit finds a painting in a shipment of smuggled cargo heading for the Canadian border.
Detective Harvey Larson and his wife, Jennifer, settle into their idyllic home life as newlyweds, but things take a terrifying turn when they dig too deeply into a case concerning a ring of art thieves. Meanwhile, Jennifer’s sister Abby comes to stay with them, and Harvey finds himself sorting out her suitors. Should he lift his ban on his young partner Eddie when it comes to dating his sisters-in-law? In the heat of the investigation, Harvey struggles with feelings of vengeance when Jennifer’s abusive ex-boyfriend crosses his radar. Just when he thinks he’s put it aside, he and Neil Daniels come face to face.
Susan, will you share a little from your book? What is your favorite scene?
Excerpt from Found Art
I jerked awake and lay there, not breathing, listening, trying to determine what had made my heart race. It was too dark for Abby to be home. I looked at my watch. 3:20 a.m. I heard a stealthy sound in another room, not one I recognized. Another sound, like something being moved on the carpeted floor, then soft footsteps. I looked toward the door, but I’d closed it the night before. A tiny gleam of light flickered momentarily at the crack beneath the door.
Reaching out with my right hand in the moonlight, I carefully picked up my phone from the nightstand. Star-two.
The dispatcher was loud in my ear.
“This is Captain Larson,” I said quietly. “I’ve got a burglary in progress at my house. Send a unit here immediately, please.”
“Yes, Captain.” A pause. “137 Van Cleeve Lane?”
“Yes.” I put the phone down and sat up on the edge of the bed. Jennifer slept on. No time for clothes. I had on a pair of boxer shorts. I heard another sound, and I thought it was in the study, where our computers were. I stood up slowly, willing the bed not to creak. It didn’t. I went quietly across the rug to the dresser. I could just make out my gear, where I laid it out every night. Badge, handcuffs, keys, gun. I drew my Beretta from the holster, then tiptoed to the door.
I listened. Muffled sounds. Slowly, I turned the knob. I thought the tiny noise I caused could be heard throughout the house, but nothing changed. I drew the door toward me. When it was open a crack, I looked out into the dark sunroom. I had drawn the drapes over the patio door. I waited while my eyes adjusted, absorbing every smidgen of available light.
Another sound, this time from the living room. I waited. I thought I heard a low voice, but I wasn’t sure. Someone walked away, from the living room, through the study, into the kitchen. By looking out through the sunroom toward the kitchen, I could see a beam of light, and a shape moving toward the entry. But someone still moved stealthily in the living room. I waited. The unit should arrive soon.
The person came back through the kitchen, and instead of turning into the study, shined his light into the sunroom. I ducked back beyond the door frame. The beam of light swept around the room outside. Across from me, I could see the doorway between the sunroom and the living room, and suddenly a dark bulk obscured it.
“Anything in here?” The whisper was so loud I jumped. They were both in the sunroom. Could they possibly not know there was a bedroom so near? They thought the family was asleep upstairs. The add-on master bedroom wasn’t in their plan.
I braced myself. They were shining a flashlight on Jennifer’s Van Gogh.
“Want that?” asked one.
“Nah, it’s a fake.”
The thief nearest me swung his flashlight around and focused it on the bedroom door and me.
“Hey!” He raised a pistol. The barrel gleamed.
I pulled the door open and dropped to one knee.
I got one round off and dodged behind the door frame. Three bullets went past me, into the door and the room beyond.
Jennifer jerked upright on the bed.
“Get down!” I cried.
She dove over the side of the bed, onto the rug.
Awesome excerpt. Is there a message in this novel, you want readers to grasp?
This book has a theme of forgiveness and letting go of jealousy. The main character has to decide not to track down a man, who once hurt his wife, but it’s very hard for him to leave it alone and lot God handle it.
Are you working on a new project you can tell us about it?
Yes! I’m finishing up a novella for the upcoming Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers collection, and I’m also preparing the fourth Maine Justice book for publication. It’s called Heartbreaker Hero: Eddie’s Story.
Detective Eddie Thibodeau is a main character throughout this series. In book 4, Eddie’s in love. The problem is, his girlfriend isn’t the only one who loves him. It seems half the women in Portland want to marry Eddie! A dead man is found in Chief Mike Browning’s back yard in a snowstorm. It’s up to the Priority Unit to find out what brought him there and protect the chief. Meanwhile, Eddie rescues a toddler, and an old girlfriend starts tabulating how many women have cried over him. Find out what happens when Eddie goes viral.
Susan, Thank you for sharing your latest book.
Here's where you can find Susan, and her novel, Found Art.
Purchase link for Found Art: http://amzn.to/2rgPN7H
Find Susan at:
Sign up for Susan’s occasional newsletter at https://madmimi.com/signups/118177/join
The flowers are in bloom. My yard looks refreshed, thanks to God's beauties. This time of the year means many things to people. I find it ushers in anticipation of what can be. A hope that we all share. That's why I'm grateful to have the opportunity to highlight a wonderful novel Embracing Hope, by Janell Butler Wojtowicz.
Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. It’s no surprise that she has spent her entire 30-year career in writing, including newspaper journalism, Christian higher education and nonprofit public relations, and local government public information. Much of her writing has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel. Janell is a freelance writer/editor, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota. She has two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law and three step-granddaughters.
Before I share Janell's interview she has a message that I believe everyone will enjoy.
For the readers of Monthly Smiles.
While hope is one of what I call the Big Three in First Corinthians 13, it gets overlooked by the higher profile challenges of faith and love. Hope is often seen as wishful thinking or daydreaming. But it’s action—it’s tangible. Drew had to take painful and humbling steps to find hope—to willingly emerge from self-pity, not just sit around waiting, wishing and wallowing. I challenge readers to consider if their hopes are passive—wishing and waiting—and what steps they could take to put hope into action.
University dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring. Falling in love again is the last thing on his mind. Even as grad student Allison Bennett deals with financial hardships and academic challenges, she recognizes Drew’s unresolved grief from her own loss. Student senate president Chris Whitney carries around the secret burden of a dysfunctional family and a just-below-the surface temper.
Janell, share with us one of your favorite scenes.
I choose this because whenever I picture Drew’s demeanor I shiver at his vulnerability.
Drew’s fingers brushed through his hair. “Um, I need a debriefing.”
“I thought you might.” Mitch led him to the couch. “What happened in chapel?”
“I have no idea.” Drew sat on the very edge, his coat still buttoned. “I totally veered from my outline. It made no sense at the end, and I never intended to talk about Kendra. I have no idea why I used that verse from Jeremiah. It’s an empty cliché that people use when bad things happen. I lost track of how many times I’ve heard it since Kendra died. That and throwing Job in my face. Grieving people do not want to hear about Job. Sure, there’s a happy ending, but look at the hell he went through. I don’t want to be reminded of his suffering while I’m going through my own.”
Mitch sat back and crossed his arms. “Okay, how about Ruth. She lost her husband leaving her alone and childless. She left her homeland to follow her mother-in-law to a foreign land because Ruth had heard the Lord was there. What’s remarkable about Ruth is she didn’t know much about God. Yet not only did she have hope in her future, she had hope in the Lord.
“I hate to say this, Drew, but you’re not the only one who has suffered a devastating loss. I know a family whose young son was killed in a plane crash. They sought hope by proclaiming the Word of God at his funeral. I counseled a pregnant woman last year whose husband died within two weeks from an aggressive form of leukemia. She found hope in the baby boy she had five months later. Like Job and Ruth, they had to dig deep to find hope. And believe it or not, God blessed them. That family has heard testimonies from their son’s friends who have come to know the Lord. And that baby boy is the delight of her life and family.”
Drew rolled his eyes and wrung his hands. Something else was wrong. He had never seen Drew visibly upset. Even during those first days after Kendra’s death and throughout counseling, he had never displayed much emotion beyond sadness, loneliness, and the inevitable questions. But tonight, the young man’s discomfort was painfully evident as his eyes darted about the room and he pulled the coat tighter around him.
“This isn’t just about chapel, is it?” Mitch asked.
Long seconds of silence passed. Then, finally, “I crossed the line,” he mumbled.
Mitch froze. “What line?”
Drew’s hand scraped through his hair again. “With a student. I … I hugged her.”
Mitch barely heard Drew’s whispered words.
“She was upset … and about to cry—” He jumped up and retreated to a dark corner of the room. “I—I could be in trouble with my job. They fire men for this. It’s…it’s sexual harassment! She could press charges!”
Mitch followed Drew, his heart accelerating. “Take it easy. Don’t panic. Explain slowly what happened.”
Drew backed against the wall, his arms stiff at his sides, hands fisted. “I don’t remember most of it…just hugging her. I’m not even sure what we were talking about before.”
“Where did this happen? Who was it?”
Drew stared at the floor. “My office. I didn’t do it on purpose and the door was wide open.” He shook his head. “I can’t tell you who… I don’t want to get her in trouble.”
Mitch released the question, but he already knew the answer. “Was it Allison Bennett?”
This is a great scene. I really feel for Drew and can't wait to read the book. Janell, thanks for being on my blog.
Readers here's the links to purchase Embracing Hope.
Visit Janell Wojtowicz at:
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