by Merry Jones
on Tour July 2014
Published by: Oceanview
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Number of Pages: 288
Note: Excessive strong language
Elle Harrison has taken a leave of absence to mourn the death of her husband Charlie.
Her friend Becky takes her out to dinner to cheer her up and, on impulse, drags her into a fortune teller’s shop. The fortune teller predicts that Elle will travel and meet a new man. She also says that Elle is surrounded by a dark aura that draws the dead to her.
Elle dismissed the predictions as hogwash. But then her friend Jen takes her, Becky and another friend, Susan, to Mexico where she is getting lost cost cosmetic surgery. Elle is attracted to and asked out by Jen’s surgeon, Alain DuBois. And Elle finds a woman hanging onto the balcony next to hers by her fingertips. Elle tries to save her and fails, almost dying in the process.
All of the fortune teller’s predictions have come true. And, as the week progresses, more of Alain DuBois’ patients are gruesomely killed, Jen is attacked, Elle is nearly murdered, and the spirit of her dead husband Charlie keeps appearing to her.
Who is trying to kill Dr. DuBois’ patients–And why? Who is trying to murder Elle? Why does she keep seeing Charlie–Is she nuts? Or is his spirit really trying to protect her?
ELECTIVE PROCEDURES makes a week in Mexico into a chilling page turner, full of twists and unexpected developments, as well as a face lift or two.
Read an excerpt:
Don’t look down. Don’t look down.
I kept repeating those three syllables, a singsong mantra to steady myself and get through time, pushing through seconds and minutes until it would be afterwards and this nightmare would be over.
Don’t look down.
But I didn’t have to look. I knew what was beneath me. I could picture what was lying six stories down on the concrete beside the kidney shaped swimming pool, near the mouth of the alligator water slide. Under the glowing light of sunrise, I imagined a widening crimson puddle. A clump of arms and legs. A shattered bone protruding through flesh. Tangled hair matted into a cracked skull.
Don’t look down, I said again, and I didn’t. Instead, I aimed my eyes straight ahead focusing not on the brick wall in front of me, but on the air surrounding my head. I stared into it, straining to see my aura, looking for stains, for splotches of darkness. Was it possible to see your own aura? Was there even such a thing? If there was, I couldn’t see it, saw only inches of emptiness between me and the bricks, and, at the periphery of my vision, the railing. For the briefest moment, I had a lapse; I almost turned my head, almost looked down at my hand. Don’t look, I chanted. Don’t look. Looking would mean moving my head. And if I moved it–if I moved anything at all, I’d disrupt my balance and slip, and then, with a thud, there would be two blobs of bones planted beside the pool.
A pelican dive-bombed past me, the rush of air nearly knocking me over. I held my breath, holding steady. I called out again, hoping someone would wake up, but no one came. So I told myself to stay steady and thing of other things. Other times. I stared at the wall and repeated: Don’t look down don’t look down don’t look down.
Merry Jones has written the Elle Harrison suspense novels (THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE, ELECTIVE PROCEDURES), the Harper Jennings thrillers (SUMMER SESSION, BEHIND THE WALLS, WINTER BREAK, OUTSIDE EDEN, and this fall, IN THE WOODS), the Zoe Hays mysteries (THE NANNY MURDERS, THE RIVER KILLINGS, DEADLY NEIGHBORS, THE BORROWED AND BLUE MURDERS). She has also written humor (including I LOVE HIM, BUT…) and non-fiction (including BIRTHMOTHERS: Women who relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories). Jones taught college creative writing for fifteen years. Her work has been translated into seven languages, and appeared in many magazines, including GLAMOUR. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Authors Guild, International Thriller Writers, and The Philadelphia Liars Club. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives outside Philadelphia with her husband.
Have you ever met someone and had a feeling about them? You’re not sure what exactly you don’t like about them but there it is…this feeling. Merry Jones does a fabulous job of doing this with her characters. You can “meet’ someone and almost instantly have this bad feeling about them. Of course, since there is a murder you immediately want to think they’ve the murderer but that isn’t always the case. But it is a great way of keeping you off balance and wanting to keep reading.
Elle Harrison and her band of girlfriends are very realistic. They are in turn: maternal, selfish, nosy, romantic, catty, brave, loyal and just plain annoyed with each other. I feel like the gang was really fleshed out in this book and were given the chance to show their personalities.
Of course on the other hand we have Elle’s vision of her dead husband Charlie. I must confess that normally I don’t like ghosts, talking cats or any other paranormal type crimesolvers. But Charlie is growing on me. He made an appearance — such as it was — in The Trouble with Charlie which I reviewed here. If you like solving mysteries you’ll enjoy Elective Procedures.
5Ws with Merry Jones:
When did you realize you wanted to write books?
I’ve always known. I began writing stories at the age of four or five, as soon as I learned how to print. I didn’t know that I’d achieve it, but my goal was always to write books. It was never a question.
Why do you have so many different mystery series? So many authors create one set of characters and write a dozen or more books that revolve around those characters. But you have three different series! Do you enjoy the flexibility of working with so many different characters?
I do enjoy hanging out with the different characters. As I get to know them, they become more real, more part of my life. And because they are so different, they allow me to place a wide variety of plots in a wide variety of settings. By the way, some of the characters overlap: Susan Cummings and Nick Stiles from the Zoe Hayes books reappear in the Elle Harrison books.
As to why I have several series, the answer is that I didn’t plan it. The first series, the Zoe Hayes mysteries, was a victim of the 2008 economic recession. My publisher abruptly cut most of its mid-list writers, and I—or should I say Zoe– became a casualty of that. So, without a publisher for that series, I wrote new books on spec, hoping my agent could place them with new publishers. SUMMER SESSION, the first Harper Jennings thriller went to Severn House, and THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE, the first Elle Harrison novel, went to Oceanview. So the answer is that I started each without knowing how many I’d write, or that they would turn into series. I was just trying to keep working.
Where will Elle and her merry (and often grumpy) gang of girlfriends head for the next book? Back to their hometown of Philly or another exotic locale? Why did you choose to set this book in Mexico?
I think that mystery/suspense writers look for plot ideas and potential settings everywhere we go, whatever we’re doing. I set ELECTIVE PROCEDURES in the Puerto Vallarta area because it made such a vivid impression on me when I was there on vacation. The festival of the Virgin of Guadeloupe, in particular, was starkly beautiful, people all dressed up, parading, holding candles, singing through the narrow streets all night. And lots of images stuck with me—pelicans dive bombing past my hotel room windows. People boogie boarding on the waves. The long, often empty, uninterrupted stretches of sandy beach. For me, placing crimes in a seemingly joyful or restful place is compelling. It’s the contrast between the surface and the sinister undercurrent makes for tension, showing that things aren’t always as they seem, or that evil can lurk in unlikely places.
As to where the gang will go next? Not sure. Depends where I want to vacation….
What is the most difficult/rewarding thing about writing?
For me, the best parts are those magical moments when the writing takes off on its own, when I feel that I’m merely writing down words and phrases and events that “come to me.” When I see the threads of the book all coming together. When a rhythm carries me along with it. Of course, it’s incredibly rewarding to hear that readers are satisfied or that publishers want another book. All of it is amazing.
Who is your favorite mystery writer?
Sorry. Can’t even give you a name, or even a short list. I simply don’t have a favorite. I read suspense and thrillers like popcorn, devour them.
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