Thank you for the chance to guest post here at Novels Alive. I’m excited about the release of my latest novel, Dead Drop in the next week. Dead Drop is the first in a new series and it involves border violence, border politics, and those caught in between. Wherever you stand on the immigration issue, it’s much more complicated than it appears at first blush.
The main character in this series is Nathan Parker, a detective in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Phoenix, Arizona. He’s got a unique point of view on the issue. I thought it might be best to hear it from—
Now, just wait one second here.
Me: Billie? What are you doing here? I’m supposed to interview Detective Parker.
Billie: Who says he’s the main whateveryoucallit?
Me: Character, Billie. Nathan is the main character. Says so right on the front of the book. You know, right there below the title, A Nathan Parker Detective Novel.
Billie: Don’t mean nothing to me. I’m the main character. After all, didn’t I show up in the first chapter and find them—
Me: No spoilers, Billie.
Billie: Ain’t no spoilers here. You put it on the danged back cover. Detective Parker is lookin’ into the deaths of some undocumented migrants I found out in the desert.
Me: The Detective isn’t coming, is he, Billie?
Billie: Nah, I figure he’s got better things to do.
Me: Fine. <sigh> Okay, Billie. Go ahead.
Billie: What? I don’t get no fancy intro welcome thing like the detective?
Me: Seriously, Billie, can’t we get down to it?
Billie: I can wait.
Me: All right. Billie Carson is a character is Dead Drop and she’s—
Billie: A major character.
Me: Billie Carson is a major character in Dead Drop. When we first meet Billie, she’s living off-the-grid in the remote desert north of Phoenix.
Billie: Don’t make me sound like no hippie, or tin-foil hat wearin’ whackjob. I live a simple life. I like it that way. Got me my truck and trailer and I can park wherever I like. I got my reasons. I don’t like bein’ round other people much. And they don’t like bein’ round me either.
Me: There’s more to it, Billie.
Billie: I don’t want to talk about that. I know I did things—things that got innocent people killed. It’s best I stay to myself and don’t get no one else hurt.
Me: All right, I get it. Maybe you’ll tell us later. But what were you doing out in the desert when Dead Drop opens?
Billie: I don’t have no trust fund or some fancy pension. I get what I need from scrappin’. You know, findin’ scrap metal and stuff I can cash in at the recycle yard. You’d be surprised at what them tourists lose out the window. Watches, jewelry and stuff and they don’t bother stoppin’ to look for it. I got me a nice Timex once. Hardly notice the crack in the glass when the hour hand’s at noon.
Me: This time you found more than some aluminum cans and scrap meal.
Billie: How come you made me the one to find them bodies hidden in the wash? I still can’t get the image of—
Me: Spoilers, Billie. You knew who was responsible for burying them in the desert, didn’t you?
Billie: Not specifically. But when you have families complainin’ their brothers or uncles disappear while making the crossing, it don’t take much to put the two together. These people don’t deserve what they got. Didn’t do nothin’ to nobody. All’s they did was try to get a better life for them and their families—and they got killed for it. It ain’t right.
Me: You help the undocumented once they get here, don’t you?
Billie: There’s a group of us, we all do what we can. I make a regular run down to Hermosillo and drop off medical supplies and such for the families waiting their turn to go north. They have nothin’ and anything I can get them means they have a chance to survive the journey.
Me: You pay for those supplies out of your own pocket?
Billie: I owe it to them. On account of—well, you know.
Me: How can you afford to buy supplies?
Billie: I have enough. Like I said, it’s something I gotta do.
Me: You call Detective Parker and the two of you try to find out what happened to those men you found in the desert.
Billie: He did his cop thing, but he needed me to get him inside.
Billie: I have my ear to the ground when it comes to the undocumented community. They know me from—they know me. They ain’t gonna talk to no cop without knowin’ who they are. They can’t risk gettin’ turned over to I.C.E. Parker ain’t like that. He’s a good man, but I had to vouch for him before they’d agree to talk to him.
Me: Why would they be reluctant to talk to him?
Billie: You gotta think of it from their point-of-view. These people left their homes in Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador to escape from government corruption, gangs, and crooked cops. They expect cops here to be the same. The only thing they see here is when a cop shows up, bad things happen. Someone gets arrested and deported. Families get torn apart. They have no reason to trust the cops here—even Parker. They needed to work out an understandin’ and learn to trust one another.
Me: You get enough information to start tracking where these dead men came from?
Billie: We did and Parker found out one of the men responsible might be the man who killed his partner. Then it all went bad—
Me: You have anything you can tell the people about Dead Drop?
Billie: There’s always a struggle for control at the border. Whoever runs the traffickin’ routes, rules. It’s big money, and the people caught in the middle of the struggle for control pay the highest price. The forces behind the violence might not be who you think they are.
Check out Dead Drop to find out more about Billie’s story. Her secrets are worth killing for…
The Detective Nathan Parker Series: Book 1
Publication Date: July 19, 2022
Hundreds go missing each year making the dangerous crossing over the border. What if you were one of them?
While investigating the deaths of undocumented migrants in the Arizona desert, Detective Nathan Parker finds a connection to the unsolved murder of his partner on a human smuggling run. The new evidence lures Parker over the border in search of the truth, only to trap him in a strange and dangerous land. If he’s to survive, Parker must place his life in the hands of the very people he once pursued.
Border violence, border politics, and who is caught in between. The forces behind it might surprise you.
This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for James L’Etoile. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.
James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an influence in his novels, short stories, and screenplays. He is a former associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, facility captain, and director of California’s state parole system. He is a nationally recognized expert witness on prison and jail operations. He has been nominated for the Silver Falchion for Best Procedural Mystery, and The Bill Crider Award for short fiction. His published novels include: Black Label, At What Cost, Bury the Past, and Little River -The Other Side of Paradise. Look for Dead Drop in the summer of 2022.
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