Beyond a Doubt
Carol Childs Mystery, #2
Nancy Cole Silverman
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Date of Publication: July 14, 2015
Number of pages: 244
Cover Artist: Stephanie Chontos
When Carol Childs is called to the scene of a body dump she has no idea she’s about to uncover a connection to a string of missing girls. Young, attractive women drawn to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood via an internet promise of stardom and romance have been disappearing. A judge’s daughter leaves behind a clue and a trip down Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame reveals a connection to a high powered real estate mogul and to a cartel targeting girls for human trafficking. Old Hollywood has its secrets, its impersonators and backdoor entrances to old speakeasies and clubs where only those with the proper credentials can go. And when Carol Childs gets too close, she finds herself politically at odds with powers that threaten to undue her career and like the very girls she’s seeking, disappear.
I was trying to explain to a fellow writer the other day that my career in radio began as a fledging. I was the lowest possible person on the totem pole – a fan, who would work for nothing just so that I could hang out with the jocks. No. I’m not talking athletes. They weren’t football or basketball players. They were those super-cool, on-air personalities who used words like fab and groovy and told me not to sweat the small stuff.
I thought I had found a home with the likes of such bodiless voices that ruled the airwaves at night, and were the talk around every water cooler in the morning. Finally, after years of high school angst - where I was the tallest girl in my class – I was in the groove, a member of the in-crowd and I would have done anything to keep my job.
What I didn’t realize was that anything included riding the midnight signal. A job, I later found out, even the radio station’s engineer hadn’t done. But, like I said, I was lowest possible person on the totem pole, young and naïve.
And when asked if I would do it, I replied, “Sure,” I was anxious to work my up into a paid position with the station and eager to prove my worth. “Whatever you need.”
“Good.” The engineer smiled at me like I was a trick-or-treater and he was about to give me a really neat treat. “You have a car?”
“Does it have a radio?”
“Does it work?” Now he sounded like a drill sergeant.
“Of course,” I said. I couldn’t imagine why he would think I would be working at a radio station and not have radio that worked.
What I didn’t realize was that riding the midnight signal was a bit like a snipe hunt. It was a fool’s errand, frequently given to the newbie on the squad to determine their fortitude. Not that there isn’t such a thing as riding the signal, but tasks like this are assigned for a reason. Which I will come back to later....
The engineer explained the job to me. Riding the nighttime signal entailed nothing more than tuning my car radio to the station’s signal and conducting a listening-test against the station’s signal map. At night a radio station’s signal bleed across the flat desert plains and the sound bumps the signals of other stations creating a kind of a signal-war on the airwaves.
My job was to mark those locations where the station’s nighttime signal started to fade, where it was possible to still pick up, and to mark with red X those places where it conflicted with another station.
That didn’t sound too hard. Not until I ran into my first desert coyote, beneath a full moon, on a disserted desert road and my engine died. The coyote stopped in front of my car and stared with his yellow canine eyes into mine like I might be prey. Somewhere on my dashboard, the radio signal faded with my car’s interior light. Suddenly, I was alone, in the middle of the desert in a stare-down with a wild canine that I feared at any moment would howl and alert his pack to my solitude.
I could go on and tell you how that within minutes the coyote lost interest, and that my secondhand Volkswagen’s death was but a clog in the engine line, but where would be the fun in that?
In hindsight, I think it was at that moment, alone in the desert, with only the bodiless voice of some radio station jock fading in and out on my radio that made me think this was my world. This was what I would write about. And when I returned to the station the next morning with my map appropriately marked I realized the purpose of the test. If you return, you get to keep your job.
Yeah, I got to keep my job and I made a career of it.
My new book, Beyond a Doubt, is the second of the Child Childs mysteries with Henery Press. And like its predecessor, Shadow of Doubt, it takes place inside a talk radio station. The stories Carol covers are never the only drama on the page. The situation with her boss, KCHC’s boy wonder, Tyler Hunt, who refers to Carol as the World’s Oldest Cub-reporter, and the politics that take place behind the mic are frequently as exciting, or more so, than the drama that Carol is called upon to report.
Nancy Cole Silverman credits her twenty-five years in news and talk radio for helping her to develop an ear for storytelling. But it wasn’t until 2001 after she retired from news and copywriting that she was able to sit down and write fiction fulltime. Much of what Silverman writes about today she admits is pulled from events that were reported on from inside some of Los Angeles’ busiest newsrooms where she spent the bulk of her career. In the last ten years she has written numerous short stories and novelettes. Today Silverman lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Bruce and two standard poodles.
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