Shadow Notes

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Series: Clara Montague Mysteries, Book 1
Release Date: May 2016
Author: Laurel S. Peterson
ISBN Paperback: 978-1-941295-45-8
($13.95 USD)
ISBN eBook: 978-1-941295-46-5
($5.95 USD)
LCCN: 2016939879
Edited by: Ti Locke
Cover Artist: Stephanie Flint
Pages: 232

Clara Montague didn’t want to go home to Connecticut for Christmas. Her mother Constance never seemed to like her—or her intuitive dreams about the people she loved. Clara tried to warn her mother that her father was about to have a heart attack, but Constance wouldn’t listen—and her father died.

Now living in Europe, Clara dreams her mother is in terrible danger, and can’t ignore it. Shortly after she returns, her mother’s therapist (and former lover) Hugh Woodward is murdered—and Constance is jailed for the crime.

Since Constance won’t talk to her about the case, Clara decides to investigate by cozying up to her mother’s former best friend, wealthy socialite Mary Ellen Winters. Mary Ellen insinuates that Constance has many sordid secrets to hide—and Hugh is just the tip of the iceberg.

Frantically seeking clues to her mother’s hidden past, Clara uncovers the file of “shadow notes” that Hugh maintained to document his sessions with her mother, but they are snatched from her hands before she can read them.

As Clara gets closer to the truth about Hugh’s murder and its connection to her mother’s past, threats against her own life escalate. Can Clara’s intuition help her peel back years of high-stakes secrets to identify the real murderer?

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“I enjoyed reading Shadow Notes for a whole bunch of reasons, one of which is that it’s a great mystery novel. It’s an exciting story with some of my favorite elements: a complicated mother/daughter relationship, and a satisfyingly troubled and complex main character who returns to her home after a long time away and tries to fit back in. It’s such a fun read—a very satisfying mystery, and it offers the promise of another book in the series. I can’t wait to read the next installment!” — Rebecca Hussey, Of Books & Bicyles review blog

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All I wanted was to blow this little Spanish town and my soon-to-be ex-husband, head to Paris, and bathe my wounds in Chanel and walks along the Seine. But I’d had a terrifying dream. The last dream predicted my father’s death. This one predicted my mother’s.

I’m standing at the edge of a vast green field. The field slopes up and loses itself in the bluest of blue skies, pure like the polished cobalt that stretches over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. In front of me is a paddock with three lean and muscular horses, brown and sleek in the bright afternoon sunshine. The afternoon breeze fluffs their tails. I recognize this place as home, although I have never lived anywhere that looks anything like this.

In the distance, I see my mother running down the hill. Her arms stretch out toward me, overbalancing her, and she stumbles, falling to her knees in the soft grass. I can’t see what frightens her. The pasture is empty. She screams my name: “Clara! Look out!”

I turn. Behind me hangs a dense cloud, green-black like the sky before a tornado. This cloud, though, is more like a mass, something palpable, living and dense and suffocating. It is almost upon me. I turn to run toward my mother, only to find a dark mass almost upon her as well. If they shroud us, I know we will never find our way out, we will never find our way to each other. Mother is weeping in the middle of the field. “Clara, please. Help me.” When I finally reach her, she is laid out, as if for a grave, arms folded across her chest, her face as white as empty paper.

I woke exhausted, shivering and cursing into my pillow. I couldn’t fall back to sleep, no matter how I tried to calm myself with restful thoughts—salmon antique roses against a gray stone wall, the lull of rain pattering on stone courtyards. All the reasons I didn’t want to go home kept intruding.

Going home meant returning to Mother; it meant dealing with my own guilt. I’d never told her my dream about father’s death, how I’d seen the sleek black casket, the priest, my father’s face made up all waxy or plastic, as if he belonged at Madame Tussaud’s. I’d never told her he’d whispered from the casket, “Heart attacks happen, Clara.” I knew when he’d said it that I could prevent it, but I hadn’t. I blamed myself. I blamed her.

Mother lied. When I was little, before I knew better, I would tell her my dreams, and she would get this frightened look on her face. The look intensified whenever my dreams corresponded to real life. Like the time I dreamed that Timmy Lefkowitz would throw up blood, and then he did on the playground the next day. I shouted at her that if we’d told Timmy’s mom or the teacher, they might have kept Sean Gallagher from beating Timmy half to death in the bathroom because Timmy said the Virgin Mary was just another girl, not a saint.

She said no one believed in dreams or intuitions until after something happened. She claimed nothing I could have said would have changed what happened, and telling people only made them frightened of me. I was going to have to get used to that, and if I didn’t, people would call me crazy. In fact, until I gave up telling her much of anything, she would say, “It’s just a dream, Clara, a coincidence. You mustn’t tell anyone about your dreams.” She’d make me repeat it, as if I were in detention, writing a hundred times “I will not tell lies.”

Then I’d had the dream that predicted my father’s death, more terrifying than any dream I’d ever had. Was it symbolic? Real? She would tell me to ignore it, as she had all the others. I didn’t want to frighten my father, in case it wasn’t true, and I didn’t want to stay silent, in case it was. While I was paralyzed by indecision, he died. I hadn’t forgiven myself for ignoring my intuition. That was fifteen years ago. Now, here I was again and this dream felt the same: if I didn’t act on it, Mother would die. She’d pushed me away, but she was my mother, and no matter how angry I was with her, I couldn’t lose another parent. If I saved her, maybe then I would have done something right, and if I’d done something right, maybe she would be the mother I wanted.

I rolled over and looked at the clock: six a.m. Sliding out from the covers, I shivered for a moment. On the floor lay three packed suitcases. I picked up the phone and dialed United’s international desk. “I need to change a flight,” I said.