Nice young ladies really shouldn’t be dumping bodies at sea. Then again, that isn’t stopping Hazel Moran, and she can’t figure where anyone got the idea she was nice to begin with.
Raised aboard her father’s aging schooner and riding shotgun in their eighteen-wheeler, she can handle almost anything on the road or water; it’s her people skills that need work. Normally that isn’t an issue—most people tend to leave her alone behind the wheel of a Kenworth. But when twenty-year-old Hazel and her father become the targets of some unsavory characters hunting for her missing cousin, their stolen tractor trailer, and a delivery that never arrived, she knows it’s time to heed a lesson learned from her favorite hard-boiled paperbacks: playing nice will only end in tears.
It’ll take all her ingenuity, not to mention some fishing tackle and high voltage, if Hazel hopes to protect her family and unravel this tangle of greed and betrayal. And anyone who gets too close, no matter the intent, will discover just how dangerous Hazel truly is as she sets in motion a twisted plan to uncover the truth, settle some scores, and not wind up dead in the process.
Gritty, offbeat, and darkly funny, Last Exit in New Jersey is a modern mystery that introduces an unforgettable new protagonist to the ranks of literature’s hard-boiled detectives.
Hazel Moran, the tough truck-driving amateur sleuth introduced in C. E. Grundler’s debut novel, Last Exit in New Jersey, returns in this dark and twisting sequel.
Seven years ago, someone destroyed Jake Stevenson’s dreams by murdering his fiancée, Helen Matthews, and her family. Since then, tracking down the one responsible—and making the person pay—has consumed his life. Stevenson thinks the truth behind the killer’s identity and motive might still lie in the most elusive place—buried within the mind of a semi-mad man. But Stevenson may have found the means to unlock Hammon’s suppressed memories, and cleverly he draws Hazel into his hunt. Can she trust Stevenson, or does he have a hidden agenda? Hazel has her suspicions—but she has her own reasons for playing along.
Hammon and Annabel also question Stevenson’s motives. To protect Hazel from becoming the next casualty of a forgotten history now repeating itself, they must retrace a treacherous path of deceit and murder. But Annabel thinks Hammon is going about everything entirely wrong, and she has decided it’s her turn to start calling the shots, whether Hammon likes it or not. And when, again, someone very close to Hazel dies, she’s pushed to the edge. The facts all point to suicide, but Hazel isn’t buying that. She’s determined to prove it was murder, and she’s closing in on answers, only to find someone is changing the questions. No one she trusts will hear her out; they’re all certain she’s in denial and becoming unstable. But when has presenting a serious threat to herself and others ever stopped Hazel?
As her hunt travels from New Jersey to a Manhattan rave and a vacant construction site outside LaGuardia Airport, it’ll take all of Hazel’s tough, fearless, no-nonsense smarts to navigate a complex and dangerous trail of clues. How far will some people go to hide the truth? And how far will she go for vengeance?
Available May 8, 2012