Tag Archives: Lisa Alber

A day in the life of the Anonymous Journaler by Lisa Alber

You asked me to chronicle a typical day in my life, and as my therapist, you’re allowed. However, I don’t have a typical day anymore. All I have is what I can etch out of the long days, trying not to feel paranoid even though I am paranoid. He’s out there somewhere. We both know he is, and I suspect he’ll come for me at some point. I wonder if I’ll feel him in the vicinity before I see him . . .

So, how about I tell you about an atypical day? You’ve been urging me to meet new people. You’ll be happy to know I met the detective in charge of the murder investigation I told you about. People are saying the death was quite gruesome, poor man.

The detective’s name is Danny Ahern. I met him while I was visiting Liam Donnellan’s house—the local matchmaker, you remember. Nathan asked me to accompany him on the visit. As soon as I stepped into Liam’s house I sensed illness and tension swirling through the air.

The illness came from Liam, who has cancer, but the tension came from Danny. I’ve since learned that his wife is in a coma as a result of a previous investigation. Danny isn’t taking care of himself. He’s thin and his skin color was off. He looked tired, but even so, I could tell that Nathan interested him. Something dark swirls around Nathan, to be sure. I sensed it the first time I met him; it’s what drew me to him, in fact. No surprise since I have my own darkness swirling around me.

Watching Danny watch Nathan had me wondering whether Nathan is a suspect in the murder investigation. There was something going on in the room, but I couldn’t decipher it, except that it somehow also had to do with Nathan’s daughter. I’ve seen her from afar, and she’s bright as a spring lamb. Beautiful and bouncy and evidentally a devoted daughter even if Nathan doesn’t seem particularly thrilled that she recently moved in with him.

Liam’s daughter Merrit arrived not long afterwards. She couldn’t hide her surprise when she walked into the kitchen carrying several bags of groceries. She shot Liam a what-the-bloody-hell? look that made me smile into my tea cup. I read her easily enough. She suspected Liam was up to something. He probably was. Even I can tell that he’s a wily old devil inside that frail body.

As soon as Merrit arrived, Danny went on alert and called her outside with him for a chat. Through the window, I spied them walking in the rain, the intensity of their conversation evident in Danny’s tensed shoulders and Merrit’s hand gestures.

There’s plenty going on beneath the surface of quiet Lisfenora village. The good thing is that speculating about these people took my mind off my own problems for awhile. I’m a stranger to County Clare, a stranger to these people, yet I can’t help feeling I’m being dragged into some new darkness. This may be my paranoia talking again, but I keep picturing the new darkness overlapping with him, out there somewhere.

You can read more about Danny, Merrit, Nathan, and Liam (not to mention the anonymous journaler) in Path Into Darkness, the third book in the “County Clare” mystery series.

By the author of Whispers in the Mist, heralded by Library Journal as “a first-rate crime novel,” comes this haunting tale of family secrets, madness, and healing in small-town Ireland

Lisfenora is known across the British Isles for its yearly matchmaking festival. But a local man’s murder and the grim discovery in his home have cast a somber mood over the town. Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern tries to make sense of the chaotic scene while struggling to set aside moral conflicts and grief for his comatose wife. Within days, he’s plunged into even darker terrain when the investigation leads him on a collision course with the Tate family: troubled Nathan, who conceals secrets within ghastly secrets, and beautiful Zoe, the daughter Nathan abandoned years ago.

In this “dark, compelling mystery” (Booklist), one man is propelled toward a tragic downfall while the other struggles to walk the narrow path between life and death.

Buy Link

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Path Into Darkness. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end August 27, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Lisa Alber writes the County Clare mysteries. Her debut novel, Kilmoon, was nominated for the Rosebud Award of Best First Novel. Kirkus called her second novel, Whispers in the Mist, a “worthy successor to Kilmoon in tone, mood, complexity, and keen insight into human failures and triumphs.” She balances writing with gardening, dog-walking, and goofing off. She lives in Portland, OR.

You can find Lisa online at lisaalber.com, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Lisa’s newsletter HERE.

All comments are welcomed.

A Misty Day in the Life with Merrit Chase by Lisa Alber

Whispers in the MistSome days, I can’t believe that I’ve lived in Ireland for a year. I had no long-term plans when I arrived. I simply wanted to meet my biological father and sort out the mysteries of my family. It was a question of identity, I suppose. Who am I?

Well, who I am, as I learned, is the daughter of a celebrated matchmaker in rural County Clare. Despite my misgivings, my father, Liam the Matchmaker, as he’s called, is grooming me for the position because he “won’t be here forever.” His sorry words, not mine. As part of my training, I’m acting as his right-hand woman during this year’s Matchmaking Festival.

As a matter of fact, here I sit under a caravan tent in the Lisfenora village plaza. Beside me, Liam wears his signature purple top coat with tails and a fluffy scarf to ward off the September chill. He’s slender, frail almost, but still holds himself erect. He sits with lovelorn singles and performs a kind of conversational magic to get them to open up to him. I take notes in his matchmaking ledger and try to learn the “trade” by example.

I don’t feel confident in my abilities, or that I’m necessarily meant to stay in Ireland for the rest of my life. I need to figure out what I want, and I will one way or the other before the end of the festival.

Meanwhile, here I sit shivering because an unaccountable mist has descended on us. It creeps in over the fields and around the corners of the buildings that surround the plaza. It’s clammy, oppressive, reminding me that even after a year, I’m an outsider here. Worse, in some circles I’m an outcast. No one wants an ex-Californian as matchmaker. A pretender to the throne, that’s what I am in the eyes of the locals.

The barest whisper of a breeze brushes my skin, almost tickling me. I feel bare—revealed, as it were—before the gaze of the skeptical locals who hang out in the plaza, eyeing me as if I’m about to spread a pox through their ranks. Without thinking, I reach up to fiddle with my talisman necklace and touch skin instead.

The moonstone necklace is the only memento I have from my mother, and a few days ago I thought I’d lost it forever when that troubled woman who doesn’t talk—Gemma—yanked it off my neck right here in the plaza. Thankfully, I found her in Alan’s pub and she returned it—but without a proper explanation. Now, it’s getting repaired.

Moonstones are said to enhance intuition, and I could use a little of my moonstone’s intuitive powers about now. There’s something about Gemma . . . I don’t know anything about her—yet—except that she arrived with her brother last week. I have the strangest feeling about her. As if she’s somehow connected to the boy who was murdered in Blackie’s Pasture a few days ago.

Whispers in the Mist is the second book in the County Clare mystery series, published by Midnight Ink, August 2016.

There’s a whisper in the mists
In Lisfenora, Ireland, a strange fog has rolled in off the Atlantic. Along with the fog comes tales of the Grey Man, a predatory faery of local lore who snatches innocent souls into his deadly gloom.

And with the mists come murder
When a teenage boy dies in Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern’s arms, Danny finds himself pursuing his own grey man, a killer who becomes more elusive the closer Danny gets to the truth. A mute woman may be the key to solving the murder and helping Danny heal his own broken life, but first she must unlock the memories from her past.

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About the author
Lisa Alber writes the County Clare mysteries. Her debut novel, Kilmoon, was nominated for the Rosebud Award Lisa Aof Best First Novel. Kirkus calls Whispers in the Mist a “worthy successor to Kilmoon in tone, mood, complexity, and keen insight into human failures and triumphs.” She balances writing her third novel (Midnight Ink, August 2017) with gardening, dog-walking, and goofing off. She lives in Portland, OR.

You can find Lisa online at lisaalber.com, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Lisa’s newsletter HERE and receive a free anthology e-book.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Whispers in the Mist. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end August 25, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

An Uneasy Day in the Life of Merrit Chase by Lisa Alber

KilmoonTruthfully? I’d rather be left alone to think through the next step in my nonexistent plan. I’m winging it. Not to mention I arrived here in County Clare, Ireland, yesterday. Jet lag has laid its sleep-deprived caul over me, but I couldn’t nap if I tried. Instead, I sit here in a medieval churchyard. The gravestone beneath “me arse,” as the locals would say, has long ago lost its engraved name to the ripping Atlantic winds. County Clare lies in the far west of Ireland. It’s a nothing of a county, desolate, and has little to lend itself except sheep, endless rock walls, crumbling ruins…

Actually, that’s not entirely true. County Clare is home to Lisfenora village and its annual matchmaking festival that starts next week. More importantly for me, this county is home to the charismatic matchmaker, Liam Donellan.

I have yet to meet him, but I shall. I must. It’s imperative. This is what I’m thinking about today, this man who has defined my life without my knowing it until a few months ago. I must get the lay of the land and figure out the best way to approach him.

He’s my biological father, you see. I discovered this fact under traumatic circumstances that I’d rather not get into right now. This new fact about my existence hit me like a two-by-four to the head, and I’ve still got the psychic lump to show for it. Suffice to say that I’m here under duress, compelled from beyond the grave and by memories of my mom’s life-long unhappiness.

I do know a few things about this famous matchmaker from my mom’s journal, which I also discovered a few months ago. She visited the festival as a travel writer during the 1970s. Liam started out as a subject for her article.

Liam the Lion, as he’s often called, plants himself in the plaza with a gigantic ledger on his lap. Gold leaf gleams under mild sunlight, and the calfskin cover creaks when Liam opens the book. Upon thick parchment he scribbles crucial data about each supplicant . . .

But soon enough she lost her journalistic objectivity. She used to meet Liam where I sit now, in this crumbling ruin of a churchyard. Our Lady of the Kilmoon Church the signpost reads, a tourist attraction without the tourists.

Kilmoon Church stood in genteel isolation, open air to the night as if shrugging off its Christian ties and embracing a more benevolent lunar goddess. The church seemed to watch us, indulging us our frail humanity and our unseemly trespass. We strolled around the site, taking in the uneven stones and skinny windows, the crumbling gravestones and tall Celtic crosses.

So here I sit within the church’s rock-wall perimeter trying to absorb the past, trying to gather my courage. Kilmoon hides many secrets. She’s a shady lady too well versed in death—could it be that her ancient stone walls pine for yet more burials within her grounds?

I pray not even as I sense shadows lurking, forces gathering from the past not to mention modern forces from within the village. Something bad’s about to go down. The bad lurks on the horizon like weighted storm clouds. I know this like I know that Liam, my new father, will be at the heart of it all.

You can find out more about Lisa’s KILMOON blog tour on her website.

You can read more about Merrit in Kilmoon, the first book in the “County Clare” mystery series, published by Muskrat Press. The series also features Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern, who has troubles of his own. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Book description: Californian Merrit Chase travels to Ireland to meet her father, a celebrated matchmaker, in hopes that she can mend her troubled past. Instead, her arrival triggers a rising tide of violence, and Merrit finds herself both suspect and victim, accomplice and pawn, in a manipulative game that began thirty years previously. When she discovers that the matchmaker’s treacherous past is at the heart of the chaos, she must decide how far she will go to save him from himself—and to get what she wants, a family.

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by 6pm EST on March 21, and you will be entered to win a copy of Kilmoon. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Lisa Alber received an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant based on an early version of Kilmoon, in Lisa Aaddition to a Walden Fellowship. In addition, Ms. George asked Lisa to write a short story for Two of the Deadliest: New Tales of Lust, Greed, and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery (HarperCollins). She featured Lisa’s story in an “Introducing…” section for up-and-coming novelists.

Hard to imagine it now, but Lisa worked in international finance and book publishing before exchanging the corporate ladder for storytelling. Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging round out her distractions. Lisa lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Visit Lisa at www.lisaalber.com. She blogs at Lisa Alber’s Words at Play and on The Debutante Ball, a blog for debut authors. Also visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

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