Title: GHOST IN THE MACHINE
Author: KATIE O’SULLIVAN
Genre: ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
A missing black book that can take down Beacon Hill… and the ghost who holds the answers. Massachusetts State Trooper Jack MacDonald sees the world in black and white. Good guys versus bad guys. But life isn’t always so simple. When a road crew finds a dead junkie stuffed in a trash bag, Jack’s drawn into a world of shadows where nothing is as simple as it seems. Especially not the dark haired beauty caught up in the middle. Maggie Nelson lives in those shadows. Her sister might be the infamous Beacon Hill Madam, but Maggie just wants to stay under the radar and finish college. After her sister’s suspicious death, Maggie finds her own life endangered because of a missing ledger filled with names and numbers. It’s the kind of information that can crush dreams and ruin lives. Or get you killed. Can a man who doesn’t believe in ghosts keep her safe from the shadows closing in on all sides?
Excerpt from Ghost in the Machine, Prologue:
The speeding car slowed its pace a fraction allowing the back door to push open. She tumbled into the darkness, her body weightless as it flew through the pitch-black, down into the shallow ravine. Luckily, she landed on something that cushioned her fall. Not that it’s ever lucky to be thrown from a moving vehicle in the middle of nowhere.
But still, she thought. It’s the little things.
Surprisingly, she didn’t feel any physical pain… Just dazed. Disoriented. She put a hand to her forehead, trying to remember why she’d been in the car in the first place. Nothing. No memory of why she’d been in the backseat or who drove the car that was now red tail lights fading in the distance.
The last thing she remembered clearly was leaving her lawyer’s office, phone to her ear talking with… someone. Arguing, but she couldn’t remember about what. Another gap in her memory. She felt restless, as if she needed to be somewhere else right this minute, but at the same time she had no idea where that “else” might be. Or why she needed to hurry.
She put her hands down on the grass and attempted to stand but her body felt strange. Her legs didn’t want to respond. “Not surprising, given the circumstances.” Her voice sounded small and hollow, like it was afraid to echo into the surrounding darkness.
Cars and trucks whizzed along the two lane road several feet from where she was, headlights offering enough ambient light for her to make out the surroundings. Finally, she convinced her legs to try again and stood on the grassy bank to look around. Tall trees fenced in both sides of the road, with no billboards or storefronts or houses or signs of any kind to help her know where she was or even what state she was in. A line of those three foot yellow road dividers rose from the middle of the road to keep the traffic going each way separate from the other. Something about it seemed familiar, but she couldn’t quite put a finger on why.
She looked down at the large black trash bag near her feet, the one that saved her from even more pain. A small rip in the thick plastic revealed a few fingers, their chipped nail polish nearly obscured by dried blood.
She covered her mouth, suppressing an involuntary scream as she backed away several steps. Her knees buckled and she sank to the ground, unable to tear her eyes from what she now knew was a body. A woman’s body. Who was she? Why was she here by the side of the road like so much garbage? She lowered her head into her hands, the sadness devastating but no tears came. She’d witnessed so much tragedy in recent years that she couldn’t say she was truly shocked to find an abandoned corpse by the side of the road.
But the idea of someone getting away with murder weighed on her.
When she looked up again, the rising sun brightened the sky and her outlook. She gazed up at the nearly cloudless expanse, vowing to seek justice for the dead woman lying so close to her. But first she needed to find help for herself. Funny that she didn’t have her cell phone in her pocket; she never went anywhere without it. She rose slowly to her feet and thought about flagging down one of those cars zooming by. Would anyone stop?
An oversized white van pulled off the highway onto the grass, coasting to a stop several yards from where she stood. Yellowish lights flashed on its roof, giving it the semi-official look preferred by most highway departments. The side door slid open and several passengers jumped out into the grass, all wearing matching orange jumpsuits and reflective neon vests. The men carried trash bags and pointed sticks. A state trooper with a sharp-edged hat emerged from the front seat of the van and stood watching as the jump-suited men slowly shuffled through the grass.
“Barnstable County Correctional Facility,” she read from the side of the van. Now the familiar-looking yellow dividers made more sense. She must be on Cape Cod, on the infamously narrow stretch of Route 6 known as “Suicide Alley.” She’d been here before. Well, she’d driven down Route 6 in the past. She never sat on the grassy side of the road with a corpse before.
She raised her arm to wave down the trooper and his charges, but no one seemed to notice her. Perhaps the prisoners were instructed not to interact with motorists? One of the guys headed her way, walking straight toward the black trash bag. He must see me, she reasoned. He looked right at her. And then he focused on the trash bag at her feet.
Taking a few steps closer to the bag, she wondered how to explain why she was here by the side of the road with a dead body, something even she didn’t understand. The sunlight reflected on gathered dew, the bag holding the body shining like a treasure. Wait until he discovers what the treasure is, she thought, grimacing. And what happens to me? Will I be joining them in lockup? She shuddered, thinking of the complicated circumstantial evidence. She’d been in court enough times to know situations like this were hard to explain away.
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If you could dress up as anything or anyone this Halloween, what or who would it be and why?
Every year I think I’m going to come up with something Spectacular and Unique… and every year I dress up as a witch! At this point I have a great collection of witch hats and a variety of fun spider jewelry and black dresses, capes, shawls… deep down, I think I always wanted to have magic at my fingertips (with or without a wand.) Halloween is the one day a year I can pretend I do! Now if I can only get the house to magically clean itself, I’ll be all set!
Explain why your featured book is a treat to read:
GHOST IN THE MACHINE is a Halloween treat for your reading sweet tooth, set during the last two weeks of October with dead bodies, ghosts and a spooky black cat! The setting is Cape Cod, which most people think of as a "Summer Only" destination... except autumn is actually a great season here on the Cape!
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Katie O’Sullivan is an award-winning author with more than a dozen books to her credit, including The Cape Cod Rules series, My Kind of Crazy, Ghosts Don’t Lie, and the Hot Hunks Steamy Romance series she writes with several other talented authors. Katie also writes the Son of a Mermaid fantasy series for YA readers: Descent, Defiance, Deception, and the yet to be released Destiny (Coming soon.) (Hopefully.) (I’m working on it.)
A recovering English major, she earned her degree at Colgate University and now lives on Cape Cod with her family and big dogs (Instagram is full of adorable puppy pics), drinking way too much coffee and finding new uses for all the sea glass she obsessively collects from the beach while walking those big dogs. She writes YA and romantic suspense novels, as well as working full time for a high tech company. Which explains all the coffee. (And the wine.)
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