Dan McNay, one of my favorite authors from Los Angeles, has a new novel out: Under the Cold Stones. It’s a dark, suspense thriller. The heroine, Deidre McIntyre, is well versed in men’s secret fantasies and dark desires. At the age of sixteen, she had run away from her small-town home in Paris, Illinois. Her mother, a heavy smoker with a drug habit, had been no role mother for the unloved, self-destructive teenager. Her father, “crazy as a loon,” had disappeared from her life when she was seven. Only he had held the power to save her from herself. She had found refuge and a new life as a hooker in the New Orleans French Quarter, where she became known as Daydee.
Everything changes for Daydee after her mother’s death. As the only surviving member of the family, she inherits everything: a ten-room apartment building (with no tenants), a farm run by a sharecropper, the large house where her great-grandmother and great-aunt had lived, and a cemetery. Her plan on arrival—to “just sneak in [Paris] and get the money from her mother’s estate and leave without getting caught up in anything”—goes awry.
Her reckless teenage years still linger in the small-town historical memory. As she later confides to her newfound female friend and ally: “I came back here after twenty years only to find that these guys are all still sixteen and all they want to do is put a hand up my blouse.” Their wives view her with suspicion. Some shun her.
Then, there’s the delay with the will: It has to go through the probate court. She has to settle her late mother’s debts. She has to bury the dead. Undeterred, she takes it all in stride.
When spooked by the strange behavior of her mother’s former burial assistant, Daydee follows the manual instructions to operate the backhoe. During a practice run, she unearths an unmarked grave. Was the mother she still loathed implicated in what appears to be a crime? Not knowing whom to trust puts her at risk.
In dealing with the men involved in her mother’s business affairs, Daydee exposes another crime—from her own troubled past. Those involved, now respected and influential men within the community, want her gone from their lives. While she prepares to do whatever it takes to defend herself against her enemies, her dark self-destructive desire re-surfaces. It scares her to death.
Daydee’s financial security isn’t enough to ensure a new beginning. To achieve her desire of becoming a respected woman, wife, and loving mother, she must also heal the wounds deep within. Changing her habitual behavior will take time. With her courage and tenacity, Daydee shows she has what it takes to steer her charted course. To get there, she must use all her skills honed as a seasoned hooker to thwart the schemes of those who want their dark secrets to remain buried under the cold stones.