by Anita Mae Draper
Have you ever read a manuscript and then held the book when it was released in print? Have you ever been in on the early stages of critiquing a manuscript but can’t take any credit for it because it’s gone through so many hands since then? That’s how it is with Diane Burke’s debut novel, Midnight Caller. I've known Diane for a couple years now and we read each other's writing before it was ready for anyone else to see - at least mine was in that category. Diane on the other hand, was ahead of me all the way.
Last year with a working title of Whispers in the Dark, Diane won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense in the Inspirational category. Now with a name change, Diane's first book, Midnight Caller, has been released as a Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense (Mar 2010).
I ordered Midnight Caller from eharlequin.com as soon as I saw it listed on the website. I don’t think I’ve ever been as eager to read a book. And yet, I was filled with trepidation. Would I like it? Sure I liked it before when Diane was working on it, but that was in the early stages of it’s creation. What about now?
Diane Burke is a master at instigating suspense and fear. Midnight Caller starts in the Point of View (POV) of the villain. You want a lesson in hooking the reader? Here’s her first line:
‘His fingers tapped an angry rhythm against the handle of the scalpel hidden in his pocket. Where was she?’
Okay, I lied – that was 2 lines. And I was hooked. The characters are well-defined with unique characteristics. The villain is chilling. I was creeped out when in his POV and yet he could be anyone living in the neighborhood. Diane maintained the suspense throughout the book and didn’t stop until the very end when the villain was exposed. I won’t tell you when I guessed who the villain was, but it was just a guess and yes, I was thoroughly satisfied when I got to the end and realized I’d guessed right.
Erin O’Malley, is a single mother determined to give her handicapped son whatever he needs to grow into a strong adult. There’s only one thing she won’t give him… a cop for a father.
Enter the hero, detective Tony Marino who just wants to devote all his time and attention on being a cop. From experience, he knows cops don’t make good husbands and fathers. And he just refuses to go that route. Except he didn’t figure on a 5 year old handicapped child asking him to be his ‘pseudo-dad’ so he could be like all the other kids for just one day.
And how can Erin deprive her child of this one simple wish when he understands their circumstances even at that young age and never asks for anything beyond what she can give?
So for one day, they’ll pretend to be a family and that’s that. But is it? Tony finds himself drawn to the child and his mother even before realizing Erin is being stalked by a serial killer. And much as Erin would like to push Tony away, she finds herself responding to his offer of help in catching the villain. Because it’s not just what she wants that’s important. Her son needs his mother alive.
Here’s the back cover blurb:
Three deaths, one connection—the anonymous calls all three women reported in the weeks before they died. Detective Tony Marino wants to close this case before another woman disappears. Especially when he meets a fatherless little boy whose mother is being stalked. Single mom Erin O'Malley tells Tony about her anonymous caller's heavy breathing and unnerving silences. And the feeling of being watched—constantly. Now, after years of thinking he had nothing to offer a wife and child, Tony will do anything to protect the family that feels like his own. Because Erin is next on the killer's list.
Read an excerpt
Diane lives in Florida, nestled between the excitement of the Daytona Speedway and the quiet, historical St. Augustine. When not writing, she enjoys spending her time with her family and friends, reading, sitting by the ocean and playing with her dogs, Thea and Cocoa.
Diane is eager to hear from her readers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find her at eHarlequin and Facebook.