Three Strikes, You’re Dead, by Elena Hartwell: Hot on the Trail of a Kidnapper

three_strikesThree Strikes, You’re Dead ($15.95, 288 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-727-1), by Elena Hartwell, is the third book in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series, set in Washington state. While staying at a spa in Leavenworth, Eddie teams up with her card-counting mother and mob-connected father to find the killer of a migrant worker and his missing daughter.

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Hartwell did a really good job of making her characters come alive in this book. You begin to know them and to enjoy them due to the well-written and humorous dialog she creates between them. Eddie (Edwina) Shoes is an interesting female private investigator and one tough cookie…. This one was hard for me to put down. I really enjoyed it. This is the third ‘Eddie Shoes Mystery’ that Hartwell has written. Hope there are more to come.” Read more…. 
—Long and Short Book Reviews

“Three Strikes, You’re Dead gives us another vivid adventure with the quirky, genuine private eye Eddie Shoes. As usual, author Elena Hartwell’s characters are so real you feel like you could run into them at your local dive bar. Three Strikes takes us even deeper into Eddie’s complex family relationships with her charming-but-deadly father Eduardo and hilarious mom Chava, giving us further insight into Eddie’s psyche. The laugh-out-loud moments are many in this vital third installment, and you’ll find yourself wishing you could stay longer in the world of Eddie Shoes.” —USA Today bestselling author LS Hawker

“The novel is as much a story of family and a past lover as it is a mystery. Hartwell provides plenty of humor–an almost Keystone Kops humor in places.” —Gumshoe Review

Harlequin is including book 2 in its Worldwide Mystery Subscription series.

Readers and critics love the Eddie Shoes Mystery series:

Two Heads Are Deader Than One: 5 Stars: “A delightful heroine in a story that promises pleasant romance and a hint of danger with a twist of an ending. This will keep one from ever putting this book down!” —InD’Tale Magazine

Two Heads Are Deader Than One: Elena Hartwell has conjured up a plausible protagonist and done a good job of plunking her into a setting and plot that nicely suit her.”  —Reviewing the Evidence

One Dead, Two to Go: “Hartwell has created quite a winner in the unique and clever Eddie Shoes, and this first case features not only a twisting, turning, fast-paced plot, but also a number of nuanced, quirky relationships.” —RT Book Reviews

One Dead, Two to Go: “Avid Alphabet series connoisseurs should flock to this kick-off series.” —InD’Tale Magazine

Private investigator Eddie Shoes heads to a resort outside Leavenworth, Washington, for a mother-daughter getaway weekend. Eddie’s mother Chava wants to celebrate her new job at a casino by footing the bill for the two of them, and who is Eddie to say no?

On the first morning, Eddie goes on an easy solo hike, and a few hours later, stumbles upon a makeshift campsite and a gravely injured man. A forest fire breaks out and she struggles to save him before the flames overcome them both. Before succumbing to his injuries, the man hands her a valuable rosary. He tells her his daughter is missing and begs for her help. Is Eddie now working for a dead man?

Barely escaping the fire, Eddie wakes in the hospital to find both her parents have arrived on the scene. Will Eddie’s card-counting mother and mob-connected father help or hinder the investigation? The police search in vain for a body. How will Eddie find the missing girl with only Eddie’s memory of the man’s face and a photo of his daughter to go on?

Says Hartwell, “In book three, I wanted to explore the other side of Eddie’s family history. Readers often ask about her father, Eduardo, so I decided to give him a little more time in the spotlight. This story also expands on my interest in the experiences of people who come to this country to build new lives, both legally and illegally. Of course, I couldn’t leave Chava out, so she’s in there too. A triangle is always more interesting than a duo. I hope readers enjoy the twists in the plot and seeing the relationships evolve as much as I did.”

Elena Hartwell’s writing career began in the theater, where she also worked as a director, designer, producer, and educator. Productions of her scripts have been performed around the U.S. and abroad. She lives in North Bend, Washington, with her husband. For more information click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Panting hard by the time my feet were once more on reasonably level terrain, I really wished I’d stayed in bed. Dessert was definitely on the menu tonight. Maybe two. Starve a fever, feed a cold, but what did you do for a bunch of bruises and extreme physical fatigue? Dessert sounded about right.

Meanwhile, nothing looked familiar on this side of the gulch. The other side didn’t look familiar either. It was all just a bunch of trees.

Then I heard it again, the sound of the birds.

Closer.

With nowhere else to go, I might as well continue to look for them. Maybe if I found them on the ground, I could figure out where I’d been standing when I saw them drop from the sky.

Not a great plan, but it gave me a direction and helped keep panic at bay. What started out as an easy hike was devolving into me becoming a statistic, a “city” person lost in the woods.

A few minutes later, a clearing appeared, roughly the length of a baseball field. Someone had a tent set up at the far edge. That was a good sign. The camper could steer me in the direction of the resort. As long as they weren’t a follower of Charles Manson or as lost as I was.

Getting closer, I saw that the tent was nothing more than a piece of canvas tied between two trees, held down by rocks, and propped up with sticks. Banjos weren’t playing, exactly, but it didn’t scream “Silicon-Valley hipster,” either.

Movement caught my eye and caution stopped me behind a large ponderosa pine. The hairs on the back of my neck rose.

Birds.

They picked at what looked to be a trash bag torn open, refuse scattered around.

They were bigger than the crows in Bellingham, so these must be the common ravens I’d seen on the kiosk. At least they weren’t eating carrion.

Then I noticed something big lying in the field.

A deer?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t wearing running shoes, so the kid was okay.

But it was wearing boots, which kind of took the deer possibility off the table.

Had someone had a heart attack or a stroke? Passed out from a bottle of hooch? Or was some more criminal activity going on?

Noises came from the direction of the tent. If the person in the meadow had friends around, why weren’t they out here attending to them?

If the person in the tent wasn’t a friend, what did that mean for me?

That’s when I smelled smoke.

Staying in bed and watching television might have been a better way to spend my first day of vacation.

Even doggy snacks were starting to sound good.

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