Saturday, April 10, 2010

Midnight Caller by Diane Burke

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 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
You can also find her at eHarlequin and Facebook.


  1. Hey-o Anita!

    How goes it? Thanks for the thumbs up on Diane's book. I did see this in WallyWorld the other day. And I'm plenty curious about reading from the villain's POV.

    And I'm a bit jealous of Diane's Daphne award. I'm saying it right up front.

    Diane, I hope to meet you soon!

  2. That is a good hook! Should I be worried that I'm intrigued enough to want to read the POV of the killer? :-)

  3. Thanks!! Awesome!!

    Blessings, andrea

  4. Hey Granny, congrats on that new grandbaby.

    Yes, Diane does a superb job with the villain's POV. Made me want to get the straight jacket out.

    Jealousy is a human trait and we know you're not perfect so you're allowed. As long as you recognize it and ask forgiveness, you'll be okay. Just keep writing your very best and one day you'll be the one getting the Daphne. :)

    And I hope I get to meet Diane some day, too. So far we're just eFriends - which is good - but face-to-face is better.

    I'll keep praying that you'll get to ACFW this year, too.

  5. Hey, Charmaine.

    Should I be worried that I'm intrigued enough to want to read the POV of the killer?

    Not with this crowd. LOL

    Thanks for stopping by.


  6. You're very welcome, Andrea. Thanks for speaking up. We love feedback. :)


  7. Hi Anita

    What a wonderful surprise to wake up to such a great review! Coming from someone who saw my baby when it was ugly and without makeup, I am so happy you enjoyed the final product. Thanks again!

  8. Hi Debra

    I hope we meet someday as well. Meanwhile, if you belong to Face Book please send me an invite and you can catch up to Anita and I over there.

    I won the Daphne in 2008. One of the Steeple Hill editors judged the contest and asked for the full. It was purchased in 2009 and hit the shelves in March 2010.

    If you're entering the Daphne, best of luck to you

  9. Charmaine,

    Whenever I hear of vicious crimes, I am always curious as to why the killer did what he did. This book let me explore one aspect of that.

    I had a blast writing in the killer's POV.

    What does that say about me? LOL

  10. This sounds like just the kind of storyline I love. Thanks for reviewing it, Anita. I'm headed over to eharlequin right now to get my very own copy.

  11. Diane, did you have a hard time getting Steeple Hill to approve the killers POV, or is that more typical in their suspense line? I thought they only wanted hero and heroine POV.


  12. Yes, Diane, I'd like to know the answer to Dina's question, as well.

    Also, where would you draw the line between "not enough suspense"? I guess I'm trying to figure out at what point would the amount(or depth) of suspense be too much for Love Inspired, but the right amount for Love Inspired Suspense.

    If the heroine is being sabotaged by someone, but her life isn't in danger, does that make it a suspense? Or does her life (or someone else's) have to be in danger to make it a suspense?

  13. Ooh, this book sounds fabulous. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Anita!

    Diana, congratulations on the new release. What a story, to have your entry final in a contest, and then one thing led to another. Very encouraging to those of us who are unpubbed!

    It's great to see you here at the Inkwell.

  14. Diane, Suzie, and Susie - you're very welcome. It's easy to review a thrilling book. :)

    Diane - you won the Daphne in 2008? Mercy, I've lost a year! Eeeps!!!

    Dina and Suzie - to find out about the level of suspense right from a Steeple Hill editor, you should hop on over to Editor's Corner: Chat with Emily Rodmell at
    You may have to join the community first, but it's very easy and an excellent source of craft material.

  15. Anita, great review! Diane, congrats on your new release :-) I ordered a stack of books from CBD before Christmas and your book arrived yesterday - I can't wait to read it!


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