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The Solace of Denim by Kathy Otten is a Mystery and Suspense Event pick #yalit #paranormalmystery

Title: The Solace of Denim

Author: Kathy Otten

Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery

Book Blurb:

The victim of a horrific crime, fifteen-year-old Joey Kowalski has bounced around in the foster care system for six years. Withdrawn and alone, Joey misses his family and aches to belong. His only friend is his seventeen-year-old neighbor, Luke. When Luke is murdered, suspicion falls on Joey. Now the only person who might believe in him is Luke’s father Detective Will Marek--if Marek can find a way to look past his grief as Joey struggles to overcome his deepest fear long enough to finally trust someone with the truth.


School sucks!

Joey Kowalski kicked the bedroom door shut and tossed his backpack in the general direction of the closet. The weight of his books inside dropped the bag to the hardwood floor with a thud.

He pinched the zipper tab of his winter jacket and pulled down. It jammed halfway. He jerked the tab up and down, but the zipper didn’t move. Reaching behind his neck, he grabbed the back of the collar and yanked the nylon coat over his head. He left the sleeves to dangle wrong side out and flung the useless jacket toward his book bag.

He limped to his bed, flopped face down, and sighed into his pillow. He’d survived another day of whispered name calling, a stolen lunch, and guys knocking into him. He’d made it through another gym class struggling to play basketball, waiting until last to shower so no one would see his scars.

He’d endured another lecture from Mrs. Brolin, who told him, “This circled F at the top of your math test is there because you’re being lazy. Your grades at the beginning of the year indicate you can do better. You just aren’t trying.”

His math book was in his backpack. He had homework, but without Luke to explain the little a’s, b’s, and negative numbers, Joey just didn’t get it. Besides, even if he aced every quiz and test from now to the end of the semester, he had so many zeros and F’s he’d still be failing at midterms. So why bother? It was like falling out of a plane without a parachute. If you’re going to die at the end, you might as well enjoy the fall.

“Joey!” Lorraine’s sharp voice rose up the stairwell and penetrated the bedroom door. Usually, he ignored her. If he waited, her voice would rise an octave with each failed attempt to gain his attention. Sometimes he wondered how high she could go before her voice shrieked into nothingness. Today he just wanted her to shut up.

He lifted his head off the pillow. “What?”

“Frank and I are going grocery shopping. We’re taking the little ones with us. We’ll be back in a couple of hours. Before you do your homework, I want you to come down and help Allison decorate her gingerbread men.”

He’d rather do his math.

“Do you hear me?”

They’d be gone for a couple of hours. Maybe he could get out of here for a while. He rolled off the bed.


Damn, her voice had jumped all the way to a high-C.


“Well don’t take too long. I want the kitchen cleaned up by the time we get back.”

Whatever. He shivered and massaged his right thigh, waiting for them to go.

Even with a long sleeve T-shirt, beneath his flannel shirt and hoodie, he was cold. This old farmhouse was drafty and Frank too cheap to keep the thermostat above sixty-five.

The shrieks and squeals of the little kids faded as the back door slammed. A few moments later, gravel crunched beneath the weight of the minivan as it rolled down the driveway. A minute later the faint, low southern tones of Elvis singing Blue Christmas, drifted upstairs.

Every Christmas was blue. Fa-la-la and ho-ho-ho was for stupid kids who still believed.

He walked over to the closet hoping to find another sweater or sweatshirt to layer on. He was sick of always being cold. It made his leg ache and his chest hurt. Maybe when summer came, he’d feel better.

He turned the knob and pulled open the door. He had a blue Penn State sweatshirt in here somewhere. He reached out to sift through the shirts and froze.

A faded denim jacket hung slightly apart from the other clothes.

His heart skipped a beat. He swung around, searching the corners of his room. For what, he didn’t know. Everything remained exactly the same as it had been a moment ago. He turned back to the closet. The jacket was still there.

Joey hugged himself, absently rubbing his hands over his biceps. He squeezed his eyes tight and opened them, but the jacket hadn’t vanished. His pulse thudded inside his ears, muting all sounds of Elvis.

Both afraid of the jacket and drawn to it, Joey reached out and pulled it from the hanger. It looked exactly the same as it had the last time he’d seen Luke wearing it. Band logo patches decorated the denim across the shoulders, back, and breast pockets--Tool, Nine-Inch Nails, Manson, Slipknot, a skull, and a peace symbol.

He couldn’t fathom how Luke’s jacket had gotten into his closet after all these months, but here it was.

Should he put it on?

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What makes your featured book a must-read?

This story is about overcoming tragedy and learning to trust another person. Though there is a mystery and a ghost, the internal journey of Joey is realistic and emotional.

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card:

Open Internationally.

Runs August 8 – August 21, 2023. Winner will be drawn on August 22, 2023.

Author Biography:

Kathy enjoys writing stories with feisty heroines, strong silent heroes, and happy endings. Her Civil War novel, A Place in Your Heart was a Northwest Houston, RWA Lone Star historical winner and her novel Lost Hearts a Utah/Salt Lake RWA Heart of the West finalist. She enjoys teaching classes on writing craft both online and in person. Recently, she became a certified book coach, helping new writers create that book of their dreams. She lives in the open farmland and Amish country of western NY and enjoys long walks with her German Shepherd through the fields and woods near her home. In the winter she likes to curl up with a good book and her cat, while the snow blows outside. In between she can be found at her computer weaving stories of laughter, heartache, and love for the crazy cast of characters swirling around in her head.

Social Media Links:


Marisela Zuniga
Marisela Zuniga
Aug 14, 2023

this sounds like a really good book


Aug 10, 2023

I love Angel Lawson because she has one of my favorite mystery books!


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Aug 08, 2023

Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your book in our Mystery and Suspense Bookish Event!

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