Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Struggling with the truth... What the Monkey Saw by Lynn Chandler Willis

"A stunning portrait of small town southern crime where characters walk a moral tightrope and risk everything to do what they believe is right. Emily Gayle, who watches people die for a living, is caught up in a drug theft ring and if she's not careful, death will come for her. With breakneck pacing, you'll want to devour What the Monkey Saw in one sitting, but don't—this is one you'll want to savor. Highly recommended series debut for fans of S.A Cosby, Joe Landsdale, and James Lee Burke."-
James L'Etoile, Award winning author of Black Label, Dead Drop, and the Detective Penley series


Published: January 2023

When F.B.I. agent Emily Gayle’s partner is brutally murdered, Emily forsakes her career at the bureau and returns home to the North Carolina mountains to care for her disabled father. Guilt ridden over leaving her partner alone to die, Emily takes a job as an end-of-life caregiver.

Deep in Appalachia, Jude Courtland is desperate for a fast buck to pay for his grandmother’s chemotherapy. Together with his brother Crispin and cousin, Devo, the trio takes to hijacking insulin delivery vans and selling the stolen drugs on the black market. When Emily is assigned to cancer patient Hazel Courtland, the line separating right and wrong begins to blur.

As the hijackings escalate and turn violent, Emily’s intuition hones in on startling evidence she can no longer ignore.

Struggling with the truth, Emily is torn between her conscience and her loyalty to a dying woman. With her own life in jeopardy, Emily’s forced to take a side. Right or wrong, the consequences are deadly.

Praise for What the Monkey Saw:

"This tale, ripe and deep with the Appalachian experience, makes us feel sorry for the bad guys and better understand how some people make ends meet to get by. The struggle of living is real. The crime is ugly in some ways and needed in others. Combine all this with Emily Gayle's deep-seeded struggle to overcome her trauma and reluctance to use her investigative prowess and you have a solid, multi-layered, intriguing mystery that still warms your heart, even amidst the hardness of Appalachian living." - C. Hope Clark, award-winning author of The Edisto Island Mysteries, The Carolina Slade Mysteries, and The Craven County Mysteries

"As in the best crime fiction, Lynn Chandler Willis's What the Monkey Saw is about far more than the crimes committed, in this case the hijacking of insulin deliveries in Appalachia. Through the plot of a heist novel, Willis demonstrates how some people respond to the twin pressures of poverty and illness by breaking the law, and she accomplishes this without either glamorizing the crimes or condescending to her characters. Ultimately, What the Monkey Saw stands out as an exploration of death and dying, and how we react to both: the avoidance, the denial of loss, and the acceptance and grief that wash over us like mountain rain, either drowning us or bringing the promise of brighter days just over the next ridge." - Christopher Swann, 2022 Georgia Author of the Year (Detective/Mystery), Author of Never Go Home, A Fire in the Night, and Never Turn Back

"From the very first pages you'll sense that this is something truly special not only a suspenseful story, but one that represents the triumph of the human spirit to survive hardship and confront the inevitable end. A must read!" - Lawrence Kelter, International bestselling author of the Stephanie Chalice Mystery Series

Friday the 13th, Big Apple Style

I had it all planned out. The plan was…not to have a plan. I was going to just stroll around Times Square, taking in the sights, maybe pop in a store or two. Then grab dinner at the famous Joseph’s and afterward, walk across the street to the hotel. Hunker down and get blog posts written for my soon-to-be released, What the Monkey Saw.

Alas. Sometimes even the best laid plans just don’t work out. 

I’m the president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. The weekend of January 13 through January 15, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) held its annual board meeting and board orientation for new members. Since MWA’s executive offices are located in NYC, the board meeting is held in the heart of the Big Apple. Like at a fancy hotel square in the middle of Times Square.

It’s a grand event. And I’ll go every year I’m president of the southeast chapter. As long as it’s not on Friday the 13th ever again.

It started with a horrific flight from North Carolina to NYC. Total airtime was 49 minutes. Not too bad, right? Except when those 49 minutes are spent in wave after wave of turbulence so bad the flight attendants remained buckled up the entire flight. The landing had more ups and down than a toddler in a bouncy house.

I had my trusty motion-sickness pills with me so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was chronic dehydration. So during the time I planned to stroll around Times Square, I was going by ambulance from the airport, through Queens to the New York Presbyterian Emergency Room.

And that’s where the story gets fun. Remember the great NBC drama, E.R.? Yeah, multiple that by about a thousand and you might have a few minutes of what it was like in the emergency room of a major hospital in Queens on a Friday the 13th.

And I was right in the heart of it. I mean like in the heart of it. Like my “bed” was shoved against the wall of the hallway from the ambulance bay to the trauma room. The foot of my bed kept getting bumped whenever a doctor, nurse, cop, tech…anyone would shove through the swinging doors.

I was all squished down under about a dozen blankets because my bed was right at the trauma door and directly across from the trauma door was the ambulance bay doors which were continually swinging open and it was like minus 80 degrees outside with a windchill of 480 degrees below zero. Maybe I exaggerated those numbers but that’s what it felt like.

Anyway, back to the trauma doors. In comes this stretcher complete with an EMT on top of and trying to hold down the guy being transported. After the EMT hopped off, about five or six, or maybe upwards of 100, NYPD took over.

The guy was not being very cooperative. In fact, he was rather combative. It might have been because he was cold. He was wearing only a pair of plaid, pajama pants. Or it might have been the gunshot wound to his left arm, or the stab wound to his right side, or maybe all the abrasions to his face. One of the NYPD officers was reciting the list of injuries to the trauma doctor and the injured guy kept interrupting. And trying to get off the stretcher, saying he didn’t want to go to the hospital. Keep in mind the foot of the stretcher was barely inside the doors from the ambulance bay­­––in fact, some of the NYPD gathered at the stretcher were outside the hallway, in the bay, keeping the swinging doors open––while the head of the stretcher was right at my feet just inches away from pushing through the trauma area’s swinging doors.

And all this was happening in the hallway. I hadn’t even made it to a “curtain” yet. I’ll save that and the real fun stuff for a later post. It does involve an injured Corrections Officer and a swarm of peers from Rikers, a lady reciting poetry with a very loud, nasally voice, doctors and nurses having to climb over stretchers to get to the second or third row of stretchers, and a fire alarm.

I think it was somewhere around 10:00PM when I got to the hotel. I put my jammies on, ordered room service, and called it a day. An eventful day.

About the author:
Lynn Chandler Willis is a best-selling, multi-award-winning author who has worked in the corporate world, the television news industry, and had a thirteen-year run as the owner and publisher of a small-town newspaper. She lives in the heart of North Carolina on a mini-farm surrounded by chickens, turkeys, ducks, nine grandkids, a sassy little calico named Jingles, and Finn, a brown border collie known to be the best dog in the world. Seriously.

Author's Giveaway


Wall-to-wall books said...

OH MY GOSH!! What a nightmare!
And, yes the series ER is my all time favorite! I think I have watched the whole series at least 3 times. :-)

Lynn said...

I kept looking for Dr. John Carter or Doug Ross!

JD Allen said...

You did not tell us any of that!! And you and I rode to the airport together.
My God, Lynn!

Lynn said...

Ted and his could-be-a-heart-attack but just the flu upstaged me!