I’m happy to welcome author J.R. Lindermuth to this blog. Today, John will share ten interesting features about Flora Vastine, the protagonist in his latest release, Shares the Darkness.
1. Fresh out of high school and lacking the self-confidence needed to fulfill her dreams, Flora was a minor character, working as a part-time dispatcher for the Swatara Creek Police Department, in Something In Common, the first of the Sticks Hetrick series.
2. Flora’s admiration for her brothers Ed and Donnie, both of them State Police troopers, was a factor in her desire for a career in law enforcement. They, along with brothers Bill and Steve, encouraged and helped her achieve the goal.
3. With the help of her brothers Flora honed her skills in driving, marksmanship and self-defense and, with the support of Daniel ‘Sticks’ Hetrick, former chief and now unofficial consultant to his less experienced successor, joined the police department in Cruel Cuts, the second novel in the series. Though she’d cleared the final hurdle of her Act 120 certification, Flora still had to deal with Chief Aaron Brubaker’s dubious opinion of female officers.
4. Flora was attracted to Corporal Harry Minnich even before joining the department. But it took some time before the big lug seemed to notice her other than as a novice officer in need of the guiding influence of his broader experience.
5. Flora loves to run. It’s her favorite form of exercise. Either fresh in the morning before a shift or to mellow down after a grueling night tour, you’ll find her pacing along the streets of Swatara Creek, usually with her iPod tuned to some appropriate running music.
6. Flora lives with and keeps house for her widowed father Bill Vastine, a retired factory worker. They have a close relationship and Bill is always available with fatherly advice or help.
7. Flora’s acquaintance with a strange Amish girl nearly leads to her death in Corruption’s Child, third of the Hetrick series. In this same novel, Flora demonstrates her developing skills and finally wins the respect of Chief Brubaker.
8. After pondering sometime over a suitable name for the Border Collie Harry gives her for her birthday in Being Someone Else, Flora decides on Change. “That’s her name,” Flora said. “I got to thinking, nothing ever stays the same. For good or bad, life deals us change and it’s up to us to accept the challenge or consequences.”
9. While Sticks and Anita Bailey, the new woman in his life, are on a Caribbean cruise (where he deals with two murders with roots back home in Pennsylvania), Flora puts her life in jeopardy as she solves the mystery of assaults on young women in town.
10. Both Hetrick and Flora confront troubling, dangerous people from their pasts in A Burning Desire, sixth novel in the series. Flora’s compassion puts her on the hot seat with Chief Brubaker but proves to be a life-saving misstep.
Jan Kepler and Swatara Creek Police Officer Flora Vastine were neighbors and schoolmates, but never close.
When Jan, a school teacher, avid birder and niece of a fellow officer, goes missing and is found dead in a nearby tract of woods Flora finds herself thrust into the middle of an examination of the other woman’s life, as she searches for clues.
As usual, the police have more than one crime to deal with. There’s illegal timbering and a series of vehicle thefts taking up their time. And there are other issues to deal with. Flora is concerned there’s some shakiness in her relationship with Cpl. Harry Minnich who seems to be making a lot of secretive phone calls.
Still Flora maintains focus on the murder. Despite evidence implicating other suspects, the odd behavior of another former classmate rouses Flora’s suspicion. Flora’s probing opens personal wounds as she observes the cost of obsessive love and tracks down the killer.
J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 12 novels, including six in his popular Sticks Hetrick mystery series and two in the new Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman series, and a non-fiction history book.
A retired newspaper editor, he currently serves as librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research.
He is a member of EPIC and International Thriller Writers and currently serves as vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.
A native Pennsylvanian, he is the father of two children and has four grandsons.
Where to find J.R. Lindermuth…