The Girl in the Moss
Loreth Anne White
Angie Pallorino #3
June 12, 2018
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This decades-old mystery is just what Angie needs to establish her new career—even as it thrusts her and Maddocks back into the media spotlight, once again endangering their tenuous relationship.
Then, when Angie’s inquiry into the old crime intersects with a cold case from her own policing past—one that a detective on Maddocks’s new team is working—the investigation takes a startling twist. It puts more than Angie’s last shot at redemption and a future with Maddocks at risk. The mystery of the girl in the moss could kill her.
Loreth Anne White Interview
What should readers know about your newest release?
THE GIRL IN THE MOSS is a cold case mystery/thriller that kicks off when a shallow grave in a mossy forest exposes the bones of a decades-old secret that begins to threaten a small community with lethal consequence. Early reviews have described the story as dark, atmospheric, and twisty with a “shocking conclusion”. While it can be read alone, THE GIRL IN THE MOSS is book 3 in the Angie Pallorino series, and the series has a romantic relationship thread playing out over the arc of the 3 books.
A larger philosophical question around cold case detecting also plays throughout this book. As one Goodreads reviewer wrote: “If history allows those in grief to move forward with their lives, trying to breath new life into a cold case threatens to upend everything for survivors. On the other hand, those who have gotten away with murder are eluding justice. Angie clearly represents Justice in this book, even at times when nearly everyone is against her and when some of the opposition's arguments makes some sense.”
So yes, Angie is dogged, but hopefully for good reason—she knows how vital it was to her own sense of well-being to get to the bottom of her own cold case. She’d like to help others find similar closure. And justice is something she can believe in.
The couple is on vacation, yet even on their downtime they stumble onto a corpse. Do they mind that they are dragged into the investigation or are they workaholics?
Both Angie and Maddocks thrive on their detective work. When Angie gets a chance to work the ‘body-in-the-moss’ case she believes it could be her ticket to getting her PI agency up and running. She also uses it—initially—as an excuse to not commit to Maddocks right away.
Angie has A LOT of baggage that she carries around with her.
As much as Angie loves Maddocks she is having trouble committing to him. Her career as a cop has failed, she’s struggling to build a PI practice, and she’s still dealing with trauma from having learned the truth of her past. Bottom line, she’s afraid. She doesn’t know how to do this. She’s terrified of letting him down.
Here's a scene that sums up what's in Angie's head:
Maddocks grinned. It put light into his dark-blue eyes and creased his face in a way that warmed her heart. In his wading gear and fishing vest, his jet-black hair ruffled by wind, he looked all mountain man—a far cry from the sharp homicide cop in suit and tie she’d fallen so hard and fast for almost a year ago. But the words he’d spoken in the car on their drive up the island to the remote lodge sneaked back into her mind.
She broke eye contact and returned to watching her fishing pole, a disquiet settling into her chest. Autumn on the Nahamish—it had sounded so romantic when he’d suggested it. And their trip was designed to be just that: a romantic getaway to rekindle their relationship away from cell phones and the stresses of their respective new work commitments.
But his words—that one question—had somehow sent everything off-kilter before they’d even arrived at the river.
Have you ever thought about having kids?
Angie’s line developed slack. She pulled some of it in as she’d been instructed. The water was shallow here. She could see the slime-covered stones along the river bottom. Above the stones a school of salmon carcasses held steady in the soft current. The weight of their skulls pinned the dead fish in place and kept them facing upstream as the current swung their bodies gently to and fro, making it appear as though they were still swimming. Zombie fish, Angie thought, doomed to perpetually fight their ghostly way upriver as shreds of rotting flesh peeled off their bodies. Or until they were plucked from the water by scavenging bald eagles. Or taken by bears, or the wolves that ventured down to the river’s edge at night.
It was a ritual that played out each year as millions of chum, pinks, Chinook, and coho in the Pacific Ocean were triggered by some biological cue to suddenly scent out the fresh water of the one river they were born in and to then swim into that river mouth and fight their way back to their birth home, bashing and beating themselves into shreds upon rocks and in white water. Just to spawn. To fertilize the eggs. And then die. So that the cycle could begin again.
Angie and Maddocks weren’t angling for the aged salmon, though. They were hunting the muscled and silvery trout that swam among them. But Angie was having trouble moving mentally beyond the bloated carcasses hovering beneath their boat, the stench of dead fish washed up on the shores. This whole birth-death cycle made her ponder the futility of it all, the merits of bashing one’s way against the currents of life just to propagate and die. It darkly underscored Maddocks’s question at every turn, and she didn’t have an answer.
Have you ever thought about having kids?
With quick, jerky movements, Angie started reeling her line back in.
Angie's past has made her pretty self destructive. What changed her unhealthy patterns?
Angie had some really dysfunctional coping mechanisms to start with—anonymous sex with strangers she would pick up at a club. Getting to know Maddocks has helped her put herself back on track.
She also funnels a lot of her energy into her work. What drives her?
Angie has a passion particularly for helping young women hurt by heinous crimes. This in part is because of her own past, even if she didn’t really know it at first. She’s dead set on running her own PI agency, where she can pick her cases and still march to her own drum. And because of her reputation, some of those darker cases are going to pick her.
Maddocks has a fine line he must walk -- as a homicide detective he has the duty to his squad, but he also feels a pull to include Angie in his work. How does he reconcile these two competing forces?
At the end of this book, they find a happy medium. Angie will work her own PI cases, many of them cold cases. And while there will be times the lines of her investigations cross with Maddocks’s police work, it will be more collaborative.
What can readers expect next from you?
THE DARK BONES is the working title of my next project. It’s an atmospheric mystery/suspense/romance set in ranching country in the B.C. interior, and while it is a standalone, it links to A DARK LURE, which was an Amazon #1 bestseller. I’ve had many, many readers write to ask for a linked book, and I hope THE DARK BONES hits all those same notes that A DARK LURE did. If all goes to plan—and things do yet all have to slot into place—the book will see the shelves early next summer.
Loreth Anne White is an award-winning, bestselling author of romantic suspense, thrillers, and mysteries, including The Drowned Girls and The Lullaby Girl, the first two books in the Angie Pallorino series. Winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mainstream Mystery/Suspense, Loreth is also a three-time RITA finalist, plus a recipient of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall, and a Booksellers’ Best finalist. A former journalist who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now resides in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest with her family. When not writing, she skis, bikes, and hikes the trails with her dog, doing her best to avoid the bears (albeit unsuccessfully). Learn more at www.lorethannewhite.com.