Random Road

Cover of book: Random Road by Thomas KiesLast night Hieronymus Bosch met the rich and famous.

That was the lead sentence of the story I filed later that night with The Sheffield Post.  My editor spiked it, saying, “Nobody who reads this newspaper knows who Hieronymus Bosch is.”

Instead, the story began, “Six people were found brutally murdered, their nude bodies mutilated, in the exclusive, gated Sheffield community of Connor’s Landing.”

In RANDOM ROAD, six, naked bodies, hacked to pieces, are found in an exclusive, gated Connecticut community.  For Geneva Chase, a journalist on the edge of alcoholism, this story is the last chance to redeem herself.  She’s lost every other major news job she’s had and, for Genie, working at her hometown newspaper is the end of the line.  There’s nowhere else to go.

But she has to work through the distractions of the married man she’s seeing and the love affair she starts with an old high school sweetheart, a single father facing a life and death challenge.

Genie’s journey races along a course that includes a gang of professional thieves, a blind artist, a ghost hunt and a sex club. She’s in a desperate race to get the story ahead of her competition.  But can she keep her drinking under control and do her job well enough to keep from getting fired, finish the story and not get killed in the process?

RANDOM ROAD is not only an adult murder mystery, but it’s also a love story with a shocking twist at the end that asks- Do things happen for a reason or is it all random?

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Praise for Random Road

Suspenseful Story

Reporter Geneva Chase has written hundreds of stories, but what brings her back to Sheffield, CT, and her hometown newspaper, isn't a news piece, it's her alcoholism. Yet this may be her chance at professional redemption, as she investigates one of the most grisly murder scenes of her career. Probing the brutal slaughter of six people at an exclusive gated community, the intrepid journalist also uncovers all kinds of secrets, from a young man whose father bribes a judge to let him off on a hit-and-run charge to a swingers' club. At the same time, Geneva also tries to hide her drinking problem from the newsroom. A chance encounter at an alcoholics anonymous meeting will change her life, but not before it's jeopardized by her connecting the dots and tracking down a vicious killer. VERDICT Kies's debut mystery introduces a reporter with a compelling voice, a damaged woman who recounts her own bittersweet story as she hunts down clues. This suspenseful story will appeal to readers who enjoy hard-nosed investigative reporters such as Brad Parks's Carter Ross.

Starred Review Library Journal

Entertaining Series

...Kies' fiction debut lays the groundwork for an entertaining series.

Kirkus

Taut, Fastpaced Tale

First in a new mystery series about a failing news writer who exposes enormous inequities between community haves and havenots, and the chaos, malice, and moral disconnect of social privilege and power. Kies tells a taut, fastpaced tale, imbuing each character with memorable, compelling traits that help readers connect with them. ...those who enjoy J. A. Jance's Beaumont series or Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone mysteries will appreciate Geneva Chase.

Jen Baker Booklist

Gritty, Snarky and Scary

It's a crime scene straight out of a nightmare, six bodies found naked and cut to ribbons. Reporter Geneva Chase works for a small town paper on the verge of folding, and she's just inches away from ending her career in shame. An alcoholic who has blown more stories than she's published, this may be her last chance to save her dying career. When her story is picked up by the AP, Geneva believes she may actually have a chance of resurrecting her career and her life. Now is she can just stay away from the booze and her married lover and not piss off a killer, she might just get a second chance. Gritty, snarky and scary.

For the Love of Books

A likable if flawed heroine readers will want to see more of

The bad choices made by Geneva “Genie” Chase, the narrator of Kies’s arresting debut, have landed her back in her hometown of Sheffield, Conn., working for the local paper. When a multiple murder—the six victims were all members of a sex club, and the murder site was their clubhouse—is discovered in a Long Island Sound mansion, Geneva is the only reporter on the scene. This, Genie realizes, is the story that could revive her career if she can get past her two major stumbling blocks: vodka tonics and bad taste in men. Her court-ordered attendance at an AA meeting reunites Genie with Kevin Bell, a high school friend with his own problems. While trying to figure out what Kevin means to her now, Genie is still entangled with a married lawyer reluctant to end their affair. Meanwhile, hunting for two killers in a wealthy community soon puts Genie at odds with the police and people with secrets to hide. While the sheer number of troubled characters and events taking place in a short time span weighs down the plot, Kies has created a likable if flawed heroine readers will want to see more of.

Publisher's Weekly

Darkness Lane

"Darkness Lane" cover artRANDOM ROAD introduced Geneva Chase, “a reporter with a compelling voice, a damaged woman who recounts her own bittersweet story as she hunts down clues” to murders straight out of a nightmare—six bodies found naked and cut to ribbons in a posh Connecticut home.

Having survived this and a personal tragedy, Geneva’s story still includes alcoholism and career challenges compounded by the rocky finances of her newspaper employer. But she’s working. She’s fighting the urge to reconnect with a magnetic yet married lover. And she’s raising a rebellious young lady who is not her daughter but a cherished legacy.

Nevertheless the newshound in Geneva spurs her to bad if not downright dangerous choices as two unrelated crimes unexpectedly collide. A fifteen-year-old-girl at her ward’s high school has vanished along with her English teacher. Is this same-old, same-old, or something more? And then there’s the abused woman who torched her sadistic husband, and how to keep her out of the clutches of powerful mobsters—and thus, out of the news.

Out on the crime beat, Geneva works to unravel the connection, if any, between these two disparate stories while her newspaper is put up for sale, a high-flying Hollywood production lights up the town, and her personal battles accelerate. Jarring twists and turns include charming movie stars, treacherous diamond merchants, adultery, sex traffickers, and murder.  While the clock ticks and Geneva works desperately to find the missing student, she comes to the horrible realization that she’s in over her head.

DARKNESS LANE, the second novel in the Geneva Chase mystery series, hurtles along at a breakneck speed where nothing is what it seems, and where art and reality collide in a terrifying climax.

Praise for Darkness Lane

Journalist Geneva Chase, the flawed narrator of Kies’s entertaining sequel to 2017’s Random Road, once did stints at the nation’s top news organizations, but has worked her way down the career ladder to the point where she’s now an editor and crime reporter at the local paper in Sheffield, Conn., her hometown. The crime beat pulls her into two stories that at first seem straightforward but turn out to be quite complex. One of them involves the murder of a low-level thug by his abused wife; the other focuses on the disappearance of beautiful 15-year-old aspiring actress Bobbi Jarvis. The connection between the two stories keeps the plot humming. Chase’s life is further complicated by being the legal guardian of 15-year-old Caroline Bell (Bobbi’s best friend), by the potential loss of her job if her newspaper is sold, and by the struggle to control her drinking. Kies neatly balances breathless action with Chase’s introspection and sleuthing savvy.

Publishers Weekly (June) Kimberley Cameron, Kimberley Cameron & Assoc

Newspaper reporter Geneva Chase keeps vodka in her panty drawer, doesn’t turn down a visiting film star when he attempts to bed her, and knows a good lead when it’s dropped on her: a woman who sets her abusive husband afire and sips Merlot as he burns, observing, “I’m just toasting my husband.” Who could resist that? Not Geneva. But author Kies isn’t after just raffishness here. Geneva is struggling to conquer alcoholism and really struggling to care for teenage Caroline, the daughter of Geneva’s fiancé, who “died before he should have.” The plot begins when Caroline’s classmate disappears, and as Geneva covers the search for her, she comes across links to the toasted husband. There’s a solid thriller here—the key is sex trafficking—but the real pleasure is watching Geneva work. Cheer her onas she wrestles with that vodka bottle and trembles with fear as she confronts the monster behind the child-slavery ring. She’s also pretty good at standing up to a newspaper publisher about to screw the help into the ground.

Don Crinklaw Booklist Online

A pair of complex cases confounds a dogged crime reporter and unsettles the small Connecticut town where she lives. When Betsy Caviness douses her dead-drunk husband, Jim, in gasoline and sets him on fire, recovering alcoholic Geneva Chase, who edits Sheffield’s newspaper, feels more pity for the abused perp than the victim, who’d recently been arrested for trafficking minors for sex. Betsy’s million-dollar bail is posted by a group called FOL, which stands for “Friends of Lydia,” whose members freely acknowledge their secrecy, piquing Geneva’s interest even more. Meanwhile, she’s disturbed by the disappearance of Bobbi Jarvis, a high school sophomore who’s the best friend of her ward, Caroline. Caroline’s father, Kevin, who died tragically, was Geneva’s lover (Random Road, 2017). What makes Bobbi’s disappearance even more puzzling is that she’d recently been cast in a production with New York aspirations. At a local gas station, police discover closed-circuit video that shows Bobbi getting into a car owned by Jacob Addison, the school’s drama club coach. Bobbi’s parents are estranged, and the gambling addiction of her bisexual dad, Adam, has recently created serious financial problems. When Geneva tracks him down at his apartment, she makes a gruesome discovery. Could these two crimes possibly be connected? Multiple murders and shocking twists are key components in Geneva’s ultimate uncovering of the truth. The flawed but dedicated heroine anchors Kies’ second mystery with a compassion that compels readers to root for both justice and redemption.

Kirkus Review

Graveyard Bay

Graveyard Bay by Thomas Kies cover

TIME IS RUNNING OUT...

The nude bodies of a corrupt judge and a Jane Doe are found under the icy, black waters at Groward Bay Marina, chained to the prongs of a mammoth fork lift. A videotape points to Merlin Finn, a ruthless gang leader with a proclivity for bondage and S&M who had recently broken out of prison. In the videotape, he's wearing a black leather bondage mask.

With the newspaper she works for about to be sold and her job in jeopardy, journalist Geneva Chase investigates pill mills, crooked doctors, and a massive money laundering scheme in an attempt to identify the murdered woman and find the killer. Along the way, she finds herself working with a disgraced New York cop and a host of other unlikely characters with ties to the criminal underworld.

Geneva is clearly hot on the killer's trail, but when she is kidnapped and held at the mercy of the criminals she hoped to stop, it looks like her chance to uncover the darkness that has seeped through her hometown may be lost forever.

Journalism may be changing, but investigative reporters like Geneva Chase will always find the truth. Graveyard Bay is a tense, razor-sharp hunt for some genuinely terrifying criminals, set in a vivid and believable New England winter.

Joseph Finder New York Times bestselling author of Judgement

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About Thomas Kies

Author of the Geneva Chase Mystery Series, Thomas Kies lives and writes on a barrier island on the coast of North Carolina with his wife, Cindy.

He has a long career working for newspapers and magazines, primarily in New England and New York, and is currently working on his next novel.

When he’s not writing mysteries, Thomas Kies is the President of the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce.

About Thomas Kies' Publisher, Poisoned Pen

Founded in 1997 by Robert Rosenwald (President and Founder), Barbara Peters (Editor-in-Chief), and their daughter Susan Malling, Poisoned Pen Press is an independent publisher of mystery novels. Their award-winning mystery writers and commitment to excellence for their readers sets them apart. Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, they are about to celebrate 20 years of publishing some of the best novels of the genre.

Poisoned Pen Press is a community Bound By Mystery.

Their books routinely earn starred reviews from trade publications and the general press and have also won or been nominated for every major award in the mystery genre.

In recognition of Barbara Peters’ and Robert Rosenwald’s contribution to the publishing industry, they received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Bouchercon Crime and Mystery conference, as well as, the Poirot Award bestowed by the Malice Domestic Board of Directors to honor individuals other than writers who have made outstanding contributions to the genre.

Robert and Barbara were also given the Ellery Queen Award at the 2010 Mystery Writers of America’s annual dinner honoring “writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry.”