Friday, April 27, 2018

Review and Guest Post: Ice by Lauren Carr

About the Book:

The clues for a close-to-the-heart missing person’s case heat up when Chris Matheson starts chipping away at the ice on the cold case.

When Sandy Lipton and her unborn child disappear, the court of public opinion finds young Chris Matheson guilty. Decades later, the retired FBI agent returns home to discover that the cloud of suspicion cast over him and his family has never lifted. With the help of a team of fellow retired law enforcement officers, each a specialist in their own field of investigation, Chris Matheson starts chipping away at the ice on this cold case to uncover what had happened to Sandy and her baby and the clues are getting hot!

My Thoughts:

Ice by Lauren Carr, starts off a brand new series that deals with solving cold cases. In this particular story the past and present collide when retired FBI agent Chris’s reputation is at stake again for a crime he did not commit some 24 years ago. In author Carr fashion, we have several past and present crimes that have taken place that may or may not be related. This story kept the pages turning quickly as there were a lot of possible suspects and way too many victims and their families whose lives that had been touched by the violence and now demanded justice.

I have enjoyed author Carr’s previous series, so I was excited to dive into this one. Chris is a widower with three young girls and living with his mom. I liked how he and his mom looked after each other especially since both are still in the grieving process for Chris’s late wife and his late father. Life has dealt them both some serious blows but they have a very strong family bond. Enter Chris’s first love, Helen, an assortment of loving, furry critters- Thor an adorable bunny and Sterling a very smart and as the book describes him, goofy German shepherd- and you have the makings of another brilliant series. Along with the strong family bond, we have an eccentric group of retirees called the Geezer Squad with the right amount of skills to help Chris and Helen get justice for the cases that are so cold they are like Ice.

I am very curious and happily awaiting for more from Chris, Helen, Doris, the Geezer Squad, Thor the bunny and goofy Sterling and all the characters that author Carr makes come to life in her books.

Please note that due to the nature of the crimes, some language, and some innuendo this is an adult read.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

About the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

​Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter   Facebook  ~  Instagram
Guest Post:

The Jail Bird Who Saved Christmas
Meet the Real Sterling from Lauren Carr’s Ice
By Lauren Carr

On February 26, Lauren Carr’s latest best-selling mystery, Ice (A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery) was released. Along with a new set of series characters, this mystery also introduced a new set of furry characters—featuring among them a goofy German shepherd named Sterling.

In this guest post, Lauren Carr reveals the true life story of the real Sterling, who holds a special place in her and her family’s hearts.

On Thursday, December 8, 2016, my heart was broken.

After two months of battling a brave good fight, my handsome guy, and best canine friend, Gnarly passed away from cancer.

Cradling his head in my lap, stroking his soft fur, I broke down. Man, I didn’t know the human body could hold so many tears.

December 8 marked the climax of a very rough two months.

It all started in October when my beloved German shepherd was diagnosed with cancer. Yep, my constant canine companion, my best canine friend, my muse who I dedicated Candidate for Murder to, was very ill and from the time of his diagnosis he went downhill fast.

At first, I was in denial. Gnarly was only four years old. He was a big strong dog. It wasn’t cancer. Burying my head in the sand, I blew my nose, sucked on sore throat lozenges, and plunged away on A Fine Year for Murder while praying that God would prove me right. Writing the second installment of Thorny Rose mystery series was not easy. Often, I would find myself curled up on the sofa with Gnarly’s head in my lap.

Stroking his tall ears, I prayed that God would bless this beautiful dog with a miracle to save him. It wasn’t like I was asking for a big miracle. Gnarly was just a dog—but he was my best friend—my muse.

God, can’t You bless me with this one little miracle?

Among the research online and friends who were dog experts I would talk to was Deb, the breeder who I had gotten Gnarly from as a pup. Deb and her late husband have been friends for years. As time wore on, and Gnarly’s health deteriorated, she offered that, if the worst was to happen, that when I was ready, I was welcomed to the pick of the litter for a new puppy.

No, I insisted. It’s not cancer and Gnarly will get better.

I was in such a funk over Gnarly’s illness that I wasn’t even aware that it was the Christmas season.

Usually, I would be the first to put the tree up—the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I anticipated Cyber Monday the way others look forward to Black Friday.

But that December, I didn’t even notice that we were in the midst of the Christmas season. All I could see was a looming deadline with an unfinished book, an editor frantic to finish the project before she left for the holidays, and my best canine friend wasting away before my eyes.

On Thursday, December 8, I let Gnarly go.

That afternoon, I called my sister to blubber out the news of Gnarly’s passing. After a long talk, Karen asked, “Are you going to take Deb up on her offer for a puppy?”

Not that she was suggesting that any dog could possibly replace Gnarly. However, we also had another German shepherd, Storm, a two year old female who had enjoyed Gnarly’s company. At this point, however, we were uncertain if she would be able to adjust to being an only dog.

“No,” I said, “we don’t really want to go through the puppy training stuff.” I went on to explain that we weren’t even going to actively look for another dog. My heart needed time to heal. “I’m leaving this in God’s hands. When the time is right, He’ll send the perfect dog my way.”

The next day, December 9, I called Deb to give her the sad news about Gnarly’s passing. Kindly, I declined her offer for a free puppy, explaining that we did not want to go through the puppy training.

“Well,” Deb said, “if you don’t want a puppy, maybe you’ll be interested in Gnarly’s nephew.” Gnarly’s nephew!

On Thursday, December 8, the very same day that Gnarly had passed away—his nephew landed in an animal shelter.

Gnarly’s sister, Morgan, had been adopted by another dog breeder, Vicki. One of her puppies, Sterling had been adopted by a family who lived one state away. In the midst of a nasty divorce, neither parent wanted the responsibility of the German shepherd so the wife surrendered him to the county animal shelter. During check-in, the animal control officer discovered that Sterling had been microchipped, which was still registered to the breeder, and called Vicki to notify her that they had one of her dogs.

Luckily for Sterling, his adopted family never bothered changing the microchip registration. Otherwise, Vicki would have never discovered that Sterling was in jail. She has every one who adopts her puppies sign an agreement that they will not turn the dog into the pound or shelter. If the new owners can’t keep the dog, they are to return it to Vicki who will find the dog a new home.

Vicki had a cow! She called everyone from the humane society to the sheriff in an effort to get Gnarly’s nephew released into her custody. Unfortunately, fighting the doggie jail system is not that easy.

Luckily, one of Vicki’s calls was to fellow breeder Deb, who told me the news: Gnarly’s nephew was in jail! Yes, I know I was emotional, but immediately I saw the love connection that God had in mind for us. I lost Gnarly—my best friend—on the same day that his nephew lost his family and his home—all right before Christmas. I had to save Sterling.

Vicki and I connected on Facebook. She hadn’t seen Sterling since he was a puppy, but she did send me pictures of Morgan, Gnarly’s sister, who looked just like her brother.

For eleven days, we battled the system for Sterling’s release.

Meanwhile, Gnarly’s nephew was locked up. I prayed that the family would pick him up and turn him over to Vicki, who accepted my offer to adopt him. Then, my husband pointed out that after all the fuss Vicki and I had been causing, Sterling’s family could pick him up and give him to someone else. Both Vicki and I changed our prayers to that Sterling would remain in the shelter until Day 11, at which point my son Tristan offered to bail him out for my Christmas present.

Suddenly, I was filled with the Christmas spirit. God had declined my prayer to save Gnarly, because He had a better plan. He was bringing Sterling who needed a family who wanted him, and me with my broken heart together.

Knowing that I would have my hands full with Gnarly’s jail bird nephew upon his release, I dug in to finish A Fine Year for Murder and get it off to the editor. I sent it out the night before I went to get Sterling out of jail.

On Day 11 of Sterling’s incarceration, I was at the animal shelter one hour before they opened. After all of my phone calls to them, they knew I was making the hour and a half drive to complete all the paperwork and pay Sterling’s bail for his release, so they let me in.

After completing the dozens of forms and paying all of the necessary fees, the animal control officer explained that Sterling would need to be transported to their vet to be neutered before I could pick him up the next day. “Do you have any questions?” she asked after we had wrapped up all the bureaucratic paperwork.

“Can I meet him?” I asked.

The animal control officer’s eyes got big. “You haven’t met him?”

That’s right. I was so set on adopting Gnarly’s nephew that I had just signed dozens of adoption forms and paid fees for the German shepherd sight unseen. Remember, Vicki had not seen Sterling since he was a puppy. Neither of us had any idea about his temperament.

All I knew about Sterling was that he was Gnarly’s nephew and he lost his family and home on the same day that I lost Gnarly. We were meant to save each other.

So, I waited in the reception area for them to bring out the jail bird who I had just agreed to take home to my family. Sure, there were a dozen things that could be wrong with him. Sterling could be a vicious dog who didn’t like people. Maybe he didn’t get along with other dogs, which would create chaos with Storm, our other German shepherd.

Whatever the case, I was prepared to do what I had to deal with it. We were now stuck with each other.

A few minutes later, I heard this loud deep bark as the animal control officer was dragged into the reception area by Canine Inmate #227.

After eleven days of living in a cage, Sterling was bouncing off the walls, overturning water dishes, jumping all over anyone who came near him. This good looking guy clawed his way toward me and I knelt down to meet him eye to eye. As our eyes met, Sterling drop down onto the floor and laid his head in my lap—just like those last moments that I had with Gnarly.

The bond between us was instant.

Stroking his tall bronze ears, I burst into tears and hugged him. He licked my whole face. Even the animal control officer got teary eyed.

You couldn’t ask for a better Christmas present.

Since his release from jail, Sterling has fit into our family like a glove. Of course, it is impossible to not compare him to Gnarly, who had a lot of bad boy ways that endeared him to me—like opening doors, which my husband hated.

Yet, Sterling is his own dog. While Gnarly was extremely smart, Sterling is goofy. Within two months of adopting him, he ended up at the vet with a broken paw when he got while chasing a squirrel. The squirrels are still laughing at him.

He is extremely lovable. The last time I took him to the vet, the veterinary assistants and doctors made petting Sterling part of their rounds while waiting for the vet to do her examination. By the time we left, everyone had a turn to pet Sterling and get a kiss on their face. Even the animal shelter from where we got him declared that of all their canine inmates, Sterling had the best attitude.

Fifteen months later, I still really miss Gnarly and hold a very special place in my heart for him, but Sterling has helped to heal it. I feel like I still have a piece of Gnarly here with me—laying at my feet—taking on his role as my muse—which is why Sterling earned his spot in the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries.


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  1. Lauren, thank you for that heartfelt post. I gave my furry friends some extra loving. I am happy that you and Sterling have each other.

    1. Thank you, Boos Mum! Yes, Sterling is a very special Christmas present, worthy of his spot in the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries.

  2. Thank you so much for the fabulous review of Ice. I am thrilled that you enjoyed it and am sure your followers will enjoy the Chris Matheson cold Case mysteries.