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Created by Templates Zoo

Author Katie Mettner

Cold Heart Creek ~ Lisa Regan


You all know how much I love my friend Lisa Regan's books and she's out with a new one today! Book 7 in the Josie Quinn Series, Cold Heart Creek, is available now! Read on for links and my review!
In the stark light of dawn, the young couple are laid out on their backs by the dying campfire, their hands clasped between them. Their eyes are open, but their hearts are cold…

When a park ranger stumbles across the bodies of Valerie and Tyler Yates by a creek in the small town of Denton, Detective Josie Quinn is first on the scene. Still reeling from the news that her abusive mother is dying, Josie suspects this is more than just accidental poisoning, and she’s right: someone jammed a crudely carved pendant necklace down Valerie’s throat before she died.

Combing the area, Josie’s team discover a third sleeping bag indicating there could have been an extra guest around the fire that night. A lucky escape? A missing victim? Or a suspect on the run? Finding this person is the key to the entire investigation…

Trawling the couple’s photo albums for clues, Josie can’t imagine why anyone might want to harm these smiling, carefree young lovers. Until a face in one of the pictures stops her in her tracks and leads her to a farmhouse hidden deep within the forest – a special place where people go to escape, and to hide. There they meet a young girl with frightened eyes and bandaged wrists who knows more than she is saying. But the next day she’s found dead, choked with a matching necklace…

With her mother’s life hanging by a thread, Josie has an impossible decision to make. But first she must find the meaning of the pendant and catch this twisted killer before another innocent life is taken. Is she already too late?



CHAPTER 1

Josie wriggled beneath her mother’s weight, the cold of the tile floor seeping through her thin nightgown. The knife in Lila’s hand flashed in the overhead light of the trailer kitchen and fear stopped Josie’s heart for a long second, and then snapped it back into a gallop.

“Mommy, no!” Josie choked out.

Lila’s blue eyes flashed, and Josie knew at once that her mother was past the point of reason, past the point where Josie’s screams could reach her. When she got angry like this, there was no stopping her. She was a storm and there was nowhere for Josie to hide.

Lila used her free hand to press the left side of Josie’s face into the floor. The knife came closer.

“Mommmmeeeee,” Josie wailed. Her limbs shook. She felt a loosening in her lower body, like she might wet herself.

“Shut up,” Lila snarled.

From the corner of her eye, Josie watched the silver tip of the blade puncture the skin where her ear met her cheek. Then, with steady pressure, Lila sliced downward. Searing pain shot all the way down Josie’s jawline to her chin and she blinked the hot blood from her right eye and screamed, “Mommmmmeee nononononononono! Stopstopstop, Mommy. Stop!”

But Lila didn’t stop. She never stopped.

“Your daddy thinks you’re so damn special,” Lila said, taking the knife away to admire her handiwork. A satisfied smile curved her lips. “You ain’t so special. You bleed just like everyone else. He thinks he can just leave me? He thinks he can take you with him and just dump me? Leave me behind? He thinks you’re more important?”

“Mommy, please stop,” Josie whimpered. “Please.”

Lila brought the knife closer, touching it to the bottom of Josie’s chin where she had left off. “I’ll show him. We’ll see how special he thinks you are after I destroy this pretty little face of yours.”

A hand clamped down on Josie’s arm.

“Josie,” said a man’s voice.

As Lila began to slice again, Josie drew in a deep breath and howled at the top of her lungs. Suddenly, Lila was gone, and everything went pitch black. A new terror took hold. She blinked but the darkness was complete. Nothing penetrated it. Squirming, Josie felt the scratchy carpet of the closet floor against her bloodied face. “No!” she cried. “Not the closet. You promised, Mommy! Not the closet!”

The man’s voice came again. “Josie!”

She stood and pounded against the closet door. “I’m here! I’m in here. Please let me out!”

But the door didn’t open. It never opened. Until Lila said so.

Salty tears streamed down Josie’s face, stinging the place where Lila had sliced her. “Please,” she begged. “Please let me out.”

“Josie. Josie, wake up!”

She shot straight up to a sitting position, arms and legs flailing. Punching and kicking the air around her. Terror tore from her lungs. Her entire body was slick with sweat, wicking her nightshirt to her skin. As her surroundings came into focus, she realized she wasn’t in the trailer. She wasn’t six anymore. This was her bedroom. She was a grown woman. Lila was in prison, and Josie’s boyfriend, Noah sat beside her in bed, reaching tentatively for her.

Josie fought the urge to slap his hand away as the last vestiges of the nightmare left her gasping for breath. It’s just Noah, she reminded herself. She blinked rapidly and looked around the room. Noah had turned on the light on his nightstand, and it cast a soft glow across their king-sized bed. The covers lay twisted at the bottom of the bed. Josie’s pillow lay on the floor. Noah sat beside her, bare-chested, his brown hair in disarray and his hazel eyes dark with worry.

Josie reached up and traced the thin scar that ran down the right side of her face. It had been a nightmare, but also a memory. One of the worst from her childhood with Lila Jensen. She closed her eyes, trying to slow her breathing. Noah stroked her back.

“What was it?” he asked softly.

Without opening her eyes, she shook her head. He already knew the story. She didn’t want to talk about it. “Just a bad dream,” she said.

Noah chuckled softly. “Yeah, I figured that part out.”

She opened her eyes and looked at him again, disarmed by his smile. She was safe, she reminded herself. That particular horror was in her past.
Noah said, “What can I do?”

“Nothing,” Josie said. “I’m going to shower. I’m soaked.”

He sighed, put his hands behind his head and laid back on his own pillow. The clock on his bedside stand read three thirty-two a.m.

In the bathroom, she peeled off her damp nightshirt and underwear and dropped them in the hamper. She ran the water in the shower and studied her pale face in the mirror while it warmed up. It wasn’t fair, she thought. She had had to live through Lila Jensen’s abuse once, she should not have to revisit it over and over again. But ever since the calls, and Lila’s impending—

“No,” she said to the woman in the mirror. She wasn’t going there. Not now.

But her mind went there anyway because the moment you told your brain not to think of something, that was precisely what it conjured. Josie needed to forget. To lose herself. To give her brain something else to wrap around. Something that would leave little room for bad memories and future worries.

Back in the bedroom, Noah was still awake, staring at the ceiling. He sat up abruptly when he saw her standing naked in the doorway.

“Actually, there’s something you can do for me,” she told him.

He didn’t hesitate. In two steps she was wrapped in his arms, every conscious thought subdued by his deep kiss.

***

Coffee dripped from the kitchen ceiling. Josie swore under her breath, tore some paper towels from the dispenser over the sink and started mopping up the floor first, then the cabinets, and finally the counter. Then she pulled a chair over and climbed on top of it, trying to reach the ceiling.

Noah’s voice startled her, and she nearly toppled off the chair. “Did you say something about the ‘damn toaster oven’?” he asked.

She glared at him. “I did. I told you we don’t need a toaster oven. We have a toaster, that’s good enough.”

He stepped further into the kitchen, and she noted his T-shirt and boxer shorts. “You’re not even ready,” she pointed out.

He motioned toward the brown spots on her white ceiling. “What’s going on here?”

Josie got down from the chair and tossed the wad of paper towels into the trash bin. Looking down at her clothes, she decided she could get through the day just fine. Luckily the coffee had only splashed onto her shoes and the bottoms of her khaki pants. No one would be looking at her feet anyway.

“What’s going on,” she answered him. “Is that I made myself a cup of coffee, and then I turned away from the counter and my wrist bumped that unnecessarily huge toaster oven you insisted on bringing, my mug broke, and coffee went everywhere. Literally everywhere. We’re going to have to paint the ceiling.”

She saw his smile and pointed a finger at him. “Don’t you dare laugh.”

He covered his mouth with one hand.

She stomped past him, out to her foyer. “I’ll get coffee at Komorrah’s on the way in. Now go get ready. I don’t want to be late for work on our first day back from vacation.”

Noah stood at the bottom of the steps. “You could shower with me. We could have a repeat of last night. It will make you feel better.”

He was right, sex would make her feel better, but they didn’t have time. “The Chief will be all over both our asses if we’re late,” she said. “That’s the last thing I need today.”

The two of them worked for the city of Denton, Pennsylvania’s police department—Josie as a detective and Noah as a lieutenant. Their small team did its best to cover roughly twenty-five square miles across the untamed mountains of central Pennsylvania with one-lane winding roads, dense woods and rural residences spread out like carelessly thrown confetti. The population was edging over thirty thousand—even more than that when Denton University was in Fall or Spring session—just a large enough population to keep their department consistently busy. Josie and Noah had been dating for about a year and a half and had only moved in together a month earlier. It had been more of an adjustment than Josie thought it would be. She had lived alone for several years now and although she regularly entertained friends and family, living with Noah on a permanent basis required more compromise than she had anticipated.

Ten minutes later, Noah slid into the passenger’s seat of Josie’s vehicle, the sight of his still-damp, tousled brown hair softening her mood. For a moment, her mind flashed back to the hours they’d spent in bed on vacation—every bit as passionate as last night’s activities—and she wished they were back at the beach. With a sigh, she backed the car out of her driveway as Noah buttoned up his Denton PD polo shirt and said, “You know, a toaster oven does a lot more than just a regular toaster.”

Josie groaned. “It’s too big. It takes up so much counter space.”

“Counter space you use for what? All the cooking you do?” He was being sarcastic but not malicious. Josie swatted his shoulder with the back of her right hand.

“Touché,” she said.

“I lost the bed argument. You have to give me the toaster oven.”

Josie shot him a raised-brow look. “It wasn’t an argument. My bed is bigger and newer than yours. It just made sense to keep it and get rid of yours.”

They pulled up in front of Kommorah’s Koffee and Noah opened his door. “I’ll get the coffee,” he said. “Then you’ll forgive me and agree to keep the toaster oven.”


Lisa Regan is a rising star in this genre and her depiction of a flawed but morally upstanding female detective has set her apart in the industry often overshadowed by male authors. No one tells a tale like Lisa Regan does. Cold Heart Creek is everything you expect from a Josie Quinn novel and SO much more. This is truly a walk through the dark side of humanity done in a way that never snuffs out the light completely. The verse, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it" played through my mind while I read, but I inherently knew the darkness would not overcome HER.

Josie was dealing with a lot when the book opens. She's suffering from terrifying nightmares when confronted with the imminent death of the woman who she believed was her mother, but was actually a monster in the darkness. Not ready to deal with the past, Josie and Noah throw themselves into their new case; the deaths of two campers and the third one missing. What starts out as a straightforward murder investigation quickly spirals into a tale of twisted and depraved minds and lifestyles. The tales Lisa weaves are complicated and the tendrils are many, but there's one thing you can be assured of; she will unravel each thread slowly, precisely, and with the utmost suspense until you cannot think about anything else except finishing it and getting all the answers.

I'm not one to rehash the whole plot, but I will say, this is about more than a dead couple and their missing friend. This is about the demons we ALL fight and the different paths we choose to take in order to win the battle. Some choose wisely, like Josie Quinn, who in the end, shined brightly in the darkness because she is the light. Cold Heart Creek is a perfectly paced and plotted police procedural that you do not want to miss!


Lisa Regan is the USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Detective Josie Quinn
series as well as several other crime fiction titles. She has a Bachelor's degree in English and a Master of Education degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, daughter, and Boston Terrier named Mr. Phillip.

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