Sunday, March 30, 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Desolation Row by Kay Kendall


My favorite stories involve romantic suspense set against a backdrop of great turmoil and danger. Stories about World War II and the Cold War fit the bill for me. I wanted to write my own version of that kind of romantic suspense. Also I love to read historical mysteries set in England, France, Germany, Russia, and so on. I decided my first book would be set in a foreign country during wartime.
The result is Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery. This is my debut book published in 2013 by Seattle-based Stairway Press.

Austin is only 22 years old when she marries her college boyfriend and they leave Texas and move to a foreign country. She’s coping with these changes when her husband is jailed for a murder he didn’t commit. Alone and far from home, she sets a dangerous course to find the real killer. When she also becomes a captive, things go from bad to worse. Two young lives and a new marriage are in jeopardy!
The time is 1968. The foreign country is Canada. The war is in Vietnam.
Lots of Americans don’t consider Canada to be foreign. So calm and easy to take for granted, Canada . Why, it might just as well be the fifty-first state. But the US and Canada are not identical at all. While the countries of the English-speaking world may all bunch up on a sliding scale that would represent a continuum of political and social attitudes, one should never discount the real differences that exist among them. 
I used to ponder these differences daily. You see, I lived in Canada for two decades, occupying a front row seat to watch Canadian-ness play out in front of me. Also, my husband is Canadian…and all my in-laws. Yes, I consider myself a Nona fide expert. In Desolation Row I treat Canada like the unique country it is. 

Secondly, the only large war of last century not “taken,” not overrun with mysteries, occurred in Vietnam. It is a comparatively empty niche that I concluded needed to be filled with more mysteries—and I decided I was the one to do the filling.
My heroine Austin Starr is young and na├»ve, and her mother taught her that the role of wife and mother is the only one that will bring fulfillment to a female. Austin is not sure this is true, but she goes along with it and, with that grounding, feels she must go to Canada with her husband, even though she does not want to leave Texas. Her husband is a political activist, but she’s not. In fact, she has a secret he doesn’t know. She was undergoing CIA training before she moved to Canada.

When her husband David is jailed for murdering the son of a US Senator, also a draft resister in Canada, only one thing counts for Austin—proving David’s innocence. After that, she hopes somehow, someway, to return home to Texas. That is an over-arching question to the books in my series—will Austin ever return to the United States, which is her heart’s desire?

Now I’m writing the second book, Rainy Day Women. All titles in my mystery series are from Bob Dylan songs. I make sure that any title I use is from a song that had been released by the time my story takes place. Dylan is a prolific song writer so it’s not hard to find an appropriate, evocative title. In the case of Desolation Row, the title captures David Starr’s sense of desolation as he waits in a row of cells in prison. In Rainy Day Women murder occurs in women’s liberation groups in Vancouver and Seattle.

Basically, Desolation Row is a love story, and the politics end up being pro-soldier and anti-war. Many veterans of the Vietnam conflict have told me they enjoyed my book. I find that very gratifying. Anyone who fights for our country deserves our un-ending support.

KAY KENDALL is an award-winning international PR exec who now writes mysteries. She and her Canadian husband live in Texas with their spaniel Wills and several house rabbits…to which she’s allergic…but she loves them anyway!You can learn more about Kay by visiting her sites:
Media links are

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Congratulations to my audio book winners: c8ae48fO9e4e-11e3f6-000bccb2996, Marymin, Donnel, Sheila Deeth and Gail Kaufman. Please contact me at

The Innocents Abroad by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

While reading The Innocents Abroad it's obvious Mark Twain was not impressed by the religious relics he saw in his journeys. He mentions a fragment of, and nails from, the True Cross, part of the crown of thorns, a marble chest containing St John's ashes and a length of chain used to confine him in prison, portraits of the Virgin Mary painted by St Luke, various saints' fingers (not to mention one of Judas Iscariot's bones), and a stone from the holy sepulchre.

As he put it:

But isn't this relic matter a little overdone? We find a piece of the  true cross in every old church we go into, and some of the
nails that held it together. I would not like to be positive, but I think we have  seen as much as a keg of these nails. Then there is the crown of thorns; they have part of  one in Sainte Chapelle, in Paris, and part of one also in Notre Dame. And as for bones of St. Denis,  I feel certain we have seen enough of them to duplicate him if necessary.

Obviously not everyone would agree, for such relics have been revered from the earliest days of the church. Forged relics, of course, were not 

Constantinople during the period in which we write held numerous relics of saints and martyrs and we specifically mentioned one in an earlier 
entry in our historical mystery series when in Five For Silver a holy fool attempts to steal the piece of the column of flagellation to which Christ was bound for his scourging. It was in the care of the Church of the Holy Apostles, which also possessed relics of Andrew, Luke, and a number of other saints and martyrs.

Naturally, relics of the Holy Family were particularly important. When we set out to write Ten For Dying we decided the item stolen from the Church of the Holy Apostles would be a piece of the shroud of the Mother of God, a relic currently said to be held by Aachen Cathedral. We based this on a fifth century history that relates Mary's shroud travelled from the Holy Land to the Church of the Virgin in Blachernae in Constantinople in the mid-400s.

Although one source terms it the Virgin's robe, as we state in the novel's afterword we took advantage of our literary license to subscribe 
to the view of Cyril of Scythopolis, who described the relic as Mary's shroud.

Thus as Ten For Dying opens, two demons run off with the piece of this shroud while a dark ceremony is in progress at the tomb of the recently deceased Empress Theodora...


Mary Reed and Eric Mayer co-write the John, Lord Chamberlain series, set in and around the sixth century Constantinople court of Justinian. The tenth entry, Ten For Dying, will appear from Poisoned Pen Press in March 2014. Information on this and their other fiction can be viewed on their website at

Monday, March 10, 2014

I'm Giving Away Five Audiobooks. Leave a Comment to Win

Win an audio book by leaving a comment and your email address. I have six new audio books and am pleased with the narrators who have not only read the books, but acted out the characters' voices. They are as follows: 

A Village Shattered is the first novel in my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series featuring two baby boomer women amateur sleuths living in a San Joaquin Valley retirement village where their club members are dying alphabetically. A newly elected sheriff bungles the investigation so Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty decide to solve the murders before they become the serial killer's victims. Mystery, romance and humor. And tule fog!

Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel is based on actual history and Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. A young woman disguised as a 12-year-old boy is kidnapped and taken to the Hole in the Wall hideout, where Andrea (Andy) attempts to hide her genre while listening to the gang plan the ill-fated Belle Fourche bank robbery. She also attempts to convince the youngest member of the gang to reform and help her escape.

No Escape, the Sweetwater Tragedy is based on the actual hangings of a young couple, Ella Watson-Averell and her husband James, by greedy Wyoming cattlemen who want their land. It's also the story of Susan Cameron, a composite of some 200,000 single women who attempted to prove up on their own homesteads during the late 1880s. With the help of her new friend, veterinarian Michael O'Brien, Susan tries to solve the murders but they have to flee for their lives when the cattlemen's henchmen try to murder them as well.

Mystery of Spider Mountain is a middle grade mystery novel set in the Hollywood Hills where I grew up at the bottom of a huge hill that my brothers and I called Spider Mountain. There trap door spiders and other crawling creatures lived. A mysterious house sat at the hill's summit and we climbed our mountain to investigate. What my characters find changes their lives forever.

Westerners: Candid and Historic Interviews is a nonfiction book, which includes some of hundreds of interviews I conducted as a
news reporter and freelance photojournalist. The interviews include Louis L'Amour, country singer Chris LeDoux, A. B. Guthrie, Jr.; Bill Cody, Buffalo Bill's infamous grandson; presidential grandson William Henry Harrison, Amelia Earhart's aviatrix friend Lucile Wright, Alice Bubeck, the country's oldest talk show host; and many others.

Wyoming's Cowboy Poets and Their Poetry is a collection of brief profiles and samples of some of the state's best poetry. The poets include Georgie Sicking, Poet Laurette Robert Roripaugh, Rhonda Sedgwick, John Nesbitt, Sue Wallis, Dr. Kent Stockton and a host of cowboy poets who write both lyrically and with cowboy lingo. Most have worked as cowhands on ranches, two as college instructors, and all have a innate sense of the West and the Western way of life.

The audio books are found at, and iTunes. No Escape and Mystery of Spider Mountain are on Whispersync and can be read and listened to at the same time.