today’s book: False Pretense by Heather Day Gilbert
We are moving right along on our summer-long Road Trip Reads Giveaway where we will be visiting all 50 states on the pages of recently released books. Because road trips are always better with friends – and books – right? So grab your fave snacks, a cold soda or bottled water, an upbeat playlist and let’s head down to the mountains!
today’s stop: West Virginia
FALSE PRETENSE by Heather Day Gilbert
SERIES: A Murder in the Mountains #4
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense (Christian)
PUBLISHER: WoodHaven Press
RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2022
False Pretense is a 2022 ECPA Christy Award finalist.
Beloved amateur sleuth Tess Spencer returns in this fourth and final Murder in the Mountains mystery.
Tess has her work cut out for her—from her day job at the police station to her nights on the campaign trail with her husband, she’s stretched thin. Her two young children also keep her busy, but thankfully she has a supportive mother-in-law who lives just next door.
When the legendary Mothman makes a terrifying appearance and a local librarian goes missing, Tess feels compelled to get involved, convinced something evil has been unleashed on her little town. Then another woman disappears—this one bearing an eerie resemblance to Tess—and the police receive a cryptic message hinting that a serial killer is on the prowl.
After a nightmarish turn of events completely upends the Spencer family, Tess musters her courage to hunt for the monstrous murderer in the woods…even if she has to walk straight into the Mothman’s lair to do it.
False Pretense brings a stunning and memorable conclusion to the award-winning Murder in the Mountains series.
Five of my Fave Elements in FALSE PRETENSE
by Heather Day Gilbert, author of False Pretense
Since False Pretense was the final book in my Murder in the Mountains mystery series, I knew I needed to wrap things up with a bang as I wrote it. Enter these five compelling elements that made this book one of the most memorable mysteries I’ve written…
1) The Mothman. Most everyone from my home state of West Virginia recognizes the name of one of the most creepy, most documented, and most inexplicable phenomena on the record here. Even before the launch of book one in this series, I had decided to set it within driving distance of Point Pleasant, WV (the place this winged creature was seen), because I knew at some point, I would work the Mothman into the mysteries. My mom and I even drove up there to do some on-the-spot research and to see the terrifying Mothman statue. The town of Point Pleasant itself has an interesting (and tragic) history, so I was careful to portray it as accurately as possible.
2) A serial killer obsessed with my sleuth, Tess. One theme that often pulls mystery readers in is a serial killer, and even more specifically, one who’s got the main character in his/her sights. Although I never get too graphic/gory with any of my books, let’s just say there are quite a few tense moments as amateur sleuth Tess Spencer finds herself fighting for justice…and for her life.
3) A believable, loving relationship between Tess and her husband. Tess finds her lawyer husband Thomas irresistible, and the feeling is clearly mutual. As the series progresses, we see Thomas and Tess grow closer through various trying family/mystery situations, and in False Pretense, the stakes are higher than ever. To know the witty, supportive, and admiring Thomas is to love him, and Tess most certainly does.
4) In-laws who are “found family” for Tess. Readers have seen how tight Tess is with her next-door in-laws—especially her indomitable mother-in-law Nikki Jo Spencer. Nikki Jo is always there for Tess with heartening meals, excellent conversation, and volunteer childcare. I’ve personally experienced the impact of a mother-in-law who was like a “second mom” to me, so I wanted to portray the strength of that kind of bond in this series. Since Tess’ own mother has a checkered (drug-dealing) past, and her dad walked out on them when she was a child, the way her in-laws become her “found family” colors her life for the better.
5) Thomas and Tess adopt a child from foster care. The “found family” theme is woven into this series, and foster care/adoption is something we’ve personally experienced. While I can never capture the experience of being foster parents in one book, it was important to me to show an accurate picture of foster care/adoption in Guilt by Association and False Pretense. The tragedy of the opioid epidemic and the fallout for the children is pervasive in my home state, and it’s something many readers will see in their own family/extended family. I hope this book encourages some to answer the call to step into foster care.
Thankfully, these elements seemed to make my loyal readers happy with this last-in-series book, and, as an added bonus, False Pretense was a 2022 ECPA Christy Award finalist. I’m thrilled for each new reader who discovers Tess Spencer and joins her as she tracks down diabolical killers in the mountains of West Virginia.
Heather Day Gilbert is offering a print copy of False Pretense to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read False Pretense by Heather Day Gilbert? Have you ever visited West Virginia?