Reluctant Sleuth Mysteries


17 October 2011: Lots has happened since my prior entry.

* SUGAR COATED, the fifth Reluctant Sleuth mystery, has been accepted by Deadly Ink Press, a cover has been designed, and we await publication.

* My sixth novel, LABYRINTH, not of series, was named a finalist in the 2010 Killer Nashville-Claymore Award. That's my fifth award-contest honor.

* I'll soon complete my ninth novel, REDEMPTION. I've hopes for that one.

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DARK SEA, the fourth Reluctant Sleuth Mystery, was published by Deadly Ink Press in June, 2010.

E.J. has often been asked if he'll write novels other than the series--and the answer is yes! This sixth novel, completed in November '09, is entitled LABYRINTH, has more action than THE PERILS OF PAULINE, and a deep love story.


The New York Chapter of the MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA named E. J. Rand one of three winners in its 2008-2009 Mentor Program. The announcement, made in March 2009 at the National Arts Club in Manhattan, honored DARK SEA, the fourth novel in the Reluctant Sleuth Mystery series.

PERFECT COVER has been honored as a finalist in the prestigious international 2009 NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS

SAY GOODBYE has been honored as a finalist in the prestigious international 2008 NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS

The amateur sleuth need not be bogged down in police procedural or legal jargon — he can be an everyman and live a life full of joys and contradictions, like the rest of us, but he gets into situations you and I wouldn't want to. Gary Kemmerman is middle-aged and vulnerable — he doesn't own a gun, he yearns for what most of us do, but he's dragged into events that put him and Becca in peril and change them.

Change — the evolution of Gary and Becca Kemmerman as individuals and as a couple — is central to the series. They change as we do, with resistance, compromise, and wonder. As quirky as some characters are, no one in the series is left unmarked by the pressures of life. And Becca, God bless her, is not willing to take a back seat.

Book 1: Say Goodbye

Cover image by Rebecca A. Kandel

In SAY GOODBYE (published by Deadly Ink Press, February 21, 2008), a second chance at love is the last thing on Gary Kemmerman's mind — he wears his wedding ring to preserve memories. We meet him the morning he's forced to become an amateur sleuth, when the widow of a friend asks for his help. The police say her husband's fatal car crash was an accident, but she knows its murder.

The sole witness to the crash is a divorcée who also wears a wedding ring, but for protection. Becca has stopped dating. Yet they're attracted to one another. As Gary digs into his friend's murder, he uncovers a multi-million dollar corporate scam protected by a killer who hums a Disney tune. Those who get in the way wind up underground behind an abandoned building in the New Jersey Meadowlands.

Falling for Becca lets Gary say goodbye to his late wife. When his police lieutenant friend brings Becca to him despite the danger, the couple discover the depth of their passion. But because of that, Gary is faced with a dilemma: will he risk his life for the woman he's come to love, or say goodbye again.
(click for excerpts)
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Book 2: Perfect Cover

Cover image by Rebecca A. Kandel

In the second Reluctant Sleuth Mystery, PERFECT COVER (coming from Deadly Ink Press in December 2008), Gary and Becca are married. Someone is attacking women at night in the hospital where Becca serves as a nurse. Gary is asked to look into it — in exchange, his police lieutenant friend has Becca reassigned off the night shift. When she finds out, and he won't let her into what he's doing, she volunteers as a police decoy.

The title PERFECT COVER refers in part to the ex-NYPD detective who has come back to kill a young woman. She's a nursing student at the hospital. He's become the pizza deliveryman, preparing a basement killing room at the same time as he's falling for her. A hospital security director called the scenario one of his nightmares. Gary figures out enough of the goings-on to get himself injured and put Becca in mortal danger from a direction that blind-sides them.
(click for excerpts)
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Book 3: Higher Calling

Cover image by Rebecca A. Kandel

In the third Reluctant Sleuth Mystery, HIGHER CALLING, Gary witnesses an accident near his home, is slugged at the scene, and then he and Becca are shot at the next morning. He has no idea why, but the bullets almost hit her and he's angry enough to push himself into the middle of what he cannot know is a suicide bombing planned near the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Becca wants in, Gary makes her a partner and finds he can't keep up with her.

The title HIGHER CALLING refers in part to terrorist beliefs. A rogue Irish operative meets a quirky bar girl, both are damaged goods, neither dares use the word "love," but their bonding — well, I expected to kill her off but she woke me one night, the woman almost crying in my dream, telling me, "No, no, give me a little happiness, please, and here's how you do it." She was so right.

Gary, who only wants to protect Becca, faces an ultimate dilemma, his own higher calling. If he's to disrupt the bombing, he must give up his wife.
(click for excerpts)
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Novel 4: Dark Sea DARK SEA is expected out in Spring 2010.

Cover image by Rebecca A. Kandel

In the fourth Reluctant Sleuth Mystery, DARK SEA, Gary and Becca are celebrating their first anniversary on a cruise and enjoying a second honeymoon until their cabin neighbors disappear and Gary spots the diamond ring the woman claimed she never took off--on the corpse of an "accident" victim. The captain warns them to stay out of it but, investigating on and off the ship as it visits Caribbean islands, the couple encounters a dangerous cast of passengers and officers hunting for a missing $86 million--and one of them has his sights on Becca. Whatever they do, a series of suspicious events wraps them ever more tightly into a mystery they must figure out.

Can they survive attempts on their lives, work through unexpected marital problems, and kill to save one another? Who winds up in the DARK SEA?
(click for excerpts)

Novel 5: Sugar Coated

"A ghost," the police call Becca's abusive ex husband. Seven years before, she'd fled from him, taking their teenage daughter, Melanie, from Ohio to New Jersey. Now--after arson, a break-in, kidnapping, and a murder, the cops are sure he's come east to terrorize and kill his former wife and her new husband, Gary.

But even with his photo, they can't find him.

The police believe that the murder--a member of the therapy group in the office where Melanie is interning has been stabbed in the back--is a part of the ex's scheme. Gary isn't so sure. He sets out to probe the other members of the group.

After Becca, in shock, tells Gary about her sordid past, he visits the Ohio town where she lived with her ex. The man's friends rub painful details in his face and then he's shot at. But he's stunned to discover that a woman Becca had thought a friend is a relative--and the steps he takes saves her life.

The family's joy blunts even the terror. Perhaps that's not good.

When the ex's friend comes east to take part in the killing, Gary’s police lieutenant friend may not be of help--he's having marital problems and looking to commit a murder of his own. Gary, Becca, and Melanie, don't know they've been trapped in the ex's web until it's too late.

The terror is similar to CAPE FEAR, but with a twist: the family comes to trust the killer. Only the reader knows better.

(click for excerpts)