1. What if a young mother found a lucrative way to provide a future for her son, but then couldn’t get out? Soon she becomes a homicide statistic. We automatically look at what she did-making drugs-and label her a bad person. Now that you know character Mandy Patterson’s backstory, do you feel empathy for her? Do you think others care if a meth cook dies?
2. A man she met on vacation, Deputy Sam Mayes, visits my sleuth Baxley Powell and her family. Like her, the man has extrasensory abilities, and she wants to learn from his experiences. He, on the other hand, is abiding by her lets-be-friends decree, but he’s made it clear he’s interested in a romantic relationship. As a woman, would you pursue the friendship?
3. For the longest time, Baxley has lived in relationship limbo. Her elite soldier of a husband went missing on a military mission. After a year went by, the Army declared him dead. As someone who can traverse the Veil of Life, Baxley knows he isn’t dead, only she can’t find him in the land of the living either. She worries he’s hurt. That’s the only way she knows that he wouldn’t come home to her and their young daughter. People say she should start dating again, but Baxley is married. Her honor and integrity demand that she honor her vows. What would you do in that situation?
4. In-laws and Outlaws is a phrase I’ve often heard applied to some extended families. In Confound It, discord rules amongst the victim’s family members. There’s love, but there’s also envy, greed, jealousy, and lust. Does your family always get along? What’s the usual bone of contention? Examples: curfew, bedtime, heirloom, elder care, employment, authority, money, respect…
5. We expect those who care for us to comfort us when troubles occur. But Confound It’s Mandy Patterson is trapped in a desperate situation, and she’s afraid of her boyfriend. What advice would you give someone like Mandy?
6. In Confound It, Mandy’s sister makes no bones that she wants what her sister has, only June is mostly talk and no action. Plus, she believes the world owes her. She gets mad when Mandy won’t continue to give her money. Do you believe in Tough Love? Why or why not?
7. My sleuth Baxley Powell is a Dreamwalker. She taps into her extrasensory abilities to learn more about a person, place, or thing in this world or the next. In reality, psychics often have one strong extrasensory skill. In the Dreamwalker Series, I take liberties so that Baxley explores a new paranormal aspect in each book. Confound It is book five in this series. Usually in other books, she must hold an item of the victim to make contact with his or her spirit. In this book, Baxley has several spontaneous visions causing her no end of confusion. What characteristic of Baxley’s do you most admire and why? (Her traits include loyalty, adaptability, courage, patience, composure, self-sufficiency, perceptiveness, honesty, fairness, or her curiosity).
8. Deputy Sam Mayes is a Cherokee. He carefully treads his way in both his native world and the white man’s world. Baxley doesn’t understand the issues he faces, doesn’t know how hard he is to appear to be solidly in both worlds, or that it costs his tribes when he is less than fully theirs. Assimilation used to be the American Way. Our society is a melting pot of immigrant groups. Why does assimilation hurt Native American tribes? Don’t people have to live and make a living in the twenty-first century?
9. Baxley’s household has a menagerie of animals: a Shih-Pooh named Muffin, a chihuahua named Elvis, black lab named Maddy, a Maine Coon cat named Sulay, and a tabby named Ziggy. Her ghost dog, Oliver the Great Dane, puts in appearances now and then. Occasionally, one of her pet-sitting clients leaves their animals with her, so she has even more animals at home. With such a variety of dogs and cats, which animal is the boss and why?
10. In a series mystery like this one, as the series goes along, the amateur sleuth gains more of a familiarity with the criminal world, though she still says firmly grounded in her community. Although Baxley has gained experience as a dreamwalker, one of her abilities, being able to perceive lies, happens automatically. This can be a bonus for her police work, but this (and her other skills) makes people leery of her. If you had a special skill that made people nervous, would you use it or hide it?
Series: Dreamwalker Mystery Book 5
Publisher: Camel Press
Release Date: June 1, 2018
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Available Formats: eBook and Print
A meth cook is dead, and when Baxley visits her beyond the Veil of Life, she determines that the woman was murdered. Baxley pities Mandy Patterson, a single mother with aspirations for her teenage son Doodle. Unconcerned about the death of a criminal, the authorities pursue the drug-supply chain angle. Baxley worries about Doodle and vows to find out who killed his mother.
As the case grows more baffling, Baxley struggles against her attraction to Sam. Although her husband is missing and declared dead, she does not feel free to love again until she is sure of his fate.
Two suspects have the strongest motive, but Baxley has reason to believe they are pawns in a deeper game. And unless she can stop them, the world will never be the same.
“Hold up,” Ronnie said. “I already know. The Pig Woman.”
Wayne shook his head. “What?”
“The Pig Woman. Jerk next door must’ve filed half a dozen complaints about her blasted pigs.”
“The woman with the pot bellied pigs?”
“That’s the one.”
“What’s her name?”
Wayne studied the ground a moment. “It’s coming back to me now. Mandy’s pigs turned up their noses at their pig-chow dinners, escaped under the fence, and got into the dog-food bag on the neighbor’s back porch. The guy nearly had an aneurism telling you about it, right?”
“Yep. Good ole Ricky Dixon. He’s wound tight, that’s for sure. If his wife wasn’t bedridden, he’d be a permanent bachelor because no woman would put up with his sh—, uh, stuff.”
“Head over there anyway. I want a statement from him about what he may have heard or seen. I want to know where those pigs are. Take Powell with you so I know if he’s lying.”
He was sending me away from the scene? I didn’t want him to think I couldn’t do my job. I pushed away from Mayes’ protective arm. “I can do it,” I said. “I needed a moment to prepare for seeing the body.”
Wayne snorted. “Sometimes I forget you’re a chick, Powell, but I can read you like a fast-food menu. This is the best use of your time. Dixon is important. He’s either a witness or a suspect, and I need your take on what he says.”
His words didn’t ring quite true. My spine stiffened. “I said I can do it.”
“Sure you can, but Mayes is a cop. He’s seen burn victims before. He’ll assist me because he wants in on the case. With the fire department’s approval, I’ll collect one or two personal items belonging to the victim, and you can go inside the place once we remove the corpse. Right now, I need you next door with my guys.”
Crap. I was being sent away on the “B” team. Simultaneously, Mayes had been promoted from spectator to “A” team. Good ole boy networks never died.
Though my pride smarted, I couldn’t deny I was glad to be granted a respite on the viewing. Wayne was doing me a favor, so I should hush and be gracious about it.
“Virg, let’s get that statement stat,” the sheriff said.
“Roger that, boss man.” Virg cocked his head at me. “You ready?”
I nodded and gathered my thoughts. I might not like being sent away, but I would do my assignment. As a police consultant, I needed to let my abilities be tasked however the sheriff deemed fit. Didn’t matter about the temporary demotion, I’d do my job. I would get justice for this victim.
“If this guy doesn’t cooperate, I’ll light him up with my Taser,” Virg announced as we trudged down the dirt road to the neighbor’s home.
Ronnie laughed, an affable giggle with a sinister twist. “Go git ’em, Virg.”
Having been on the wrong end of Virg’s Taser before, I didn’t wish that experience on anyone. “You will not. The object is to gather information, not have this man sue the sheriff’s office. If he won’t talk to you, I want a crack at him.”
“No way he’s gonna talk to you. I’m telling you. This man’s crazier than a sprayed roach.”
Series: Dreamwalker Series, Book #3
Publisher: Five Star / Cengage
Release Date: October 19, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Available Formats: eBook and Print
Dreamwalker Baxley Powell can’t remember the last time she had such a crappy weekend. A twilight encounter with a ghost dog left her numb and disoriented, her dreamwalker abilities are wiped out, and the sheriff just summoned her to a double homicide.
With no access to the spirit world, Baxley bluffs her way through the crime scene where a movie star’s assistant and a charter boat captain were strung up and bled dry. In a haunted house, no less. Figuring out who killed these people will be a real challenge without her ability to speak to the dead.
Just when Baxley thinks her powers are returning, her dreamwalks malfunction. With the sheriff pushing her to solve the case quickly, Baxley teams up with a dognapping medium to boost her powers.
Suspects include the captain’s good-for-nothing brother, the assistant’s replacement, and, of course, his stalker. All of Sinclair County is on edge, and the media circus isn’t helping. At stake are the movie’s funding, the sheriff’s job, and Baxley’s senses.
Can Baxley safeguard her abilities and solve the case before the killer strikes again? Haunted houses, lost pirate treasure, conniving in-laws, supernatural baddies, and a determined ghost dog test amateur sleuth Baxley Powell’s mettle in Book Three of Toussaint’s Dreamwalker Series.
I stared at my best friend, alarmed. “We’re going in the haunted house? Count me out. I didn’t sign on for breaking and entering. I can’t do that. I’ll lose my job as a police consultant.”
Charlotte shone her light on the weathered façade of June’s Folly. “No breaking required, Baxley. The front door is open.”
I added my beam to hers. Sure enough, the paneled door with the centrally located doorknob gaped on its hinges. “Dang. You’re right. Still, this place belongs to someone. We don’t have the right to stroll inside. We’ll be trespassing.”
“Just a peek inside. If the ghost is here, it should repel us at the door, or so goes the legend. Speaking of ghosts, is anyone talking to you? Maybe shaking some chains or speaking in French?”
“All I’m hearing is a desperate reporter.” Cautiously, I touched the banister to see if it was secure. It was. I used the railing for support as I carefully trod the rotten, squeaking steps. Drifts of thickened air stirred my hair and sighed through the pines.
Charlotte halted. “You hear that?”
Her voice sounded too high. “The wind?” “Chains clanking. And a sad, mournful song in another language.”
“Truly?” I heard nothing of the sort. Was Charlotte’s imagination getting away from her? Was there a ghost?
Charlotte sank to the porch decking, her gear clunking as she landed heavily on her rear. “I, uh, need a minute.”
“Okay.” I sat on the top step beside her. Other than feeling dread and a shiver against the elements, I seemed normal with no sign of sensory overload. I marveled that I was still functioning. A little maturity and a little extrasensory training and I had a whole new perspective on this place.
“Don’t you feel it?” My friend’s teeth chattered. “I’m freezing.”
I estimated it was nearly eighty degrees and humid enough for spiders to dance on the air. Puzzled, I touched Charlotte’s arm. Her skin felt cold to the touch. Ordinarily, Charlotte would be griping about the heat and the humidity. Something was crossing her wires. “Look at you! Working those earlier ghost sites must have unleashed a latent talent.” I gazed at her with frank admiration. “You’re the ghost detector tonight, Char. I’m not picking up anything.”
“Are you looking?”
She had me there. “Nope. I don’t want to have to call my father to come get me again. That would be embarrassing.”
“I thought you were doing this to prove yourself as a full-fledged dreamwalker.”
“My main thought is that you have your answer to the ghost question. Chains and mournful singing support the drowned slave legend. Time to go home.” “There’s more to this, I know it,” she insisted. “Help me prove it. You can handle whatever it is I’m feeling. I haven’t passed out or anything.”
Charlotte had called me out. Worse, she was right. Just because I never heard ghosts before was no reason not to listen for this one. My talents and my shielding abilities were much more finely tuned now. I’d been talking to the dead for months. I didn’t have to let childhood fears dictate my actions. And, the sooner I gave Charlotte what she wanted, the sooner we could go home. With that, I closed my eyes and opened my senses to the night. Immediately, I plunged into a freezing fog bank.