A few years ago I was attending The Writers’ Police Academy in North Carolina. If you haven’t heard of the Writers’ Police Academy (a.k.a. WPA) it’s a great event that brings authors together with law enforcement professionals once a year for an action packed weekend. Law enforcement graciously donates their time to bring us first hand, solid information about their work, techniques and challenges. Being there not only guides my own research, the time spent leads to new ideas and new perspectives on my plot and characters.
Anyway, it was last year and I’d headed down to the academy ready to dig in. The day was hot but no one seemed to care. After an action-packed morning of fingerprinting and ballistics, I headed to the afternoon session, which was a shallow grave seminar. Yep, that’s right. A shallow grave seminar. Lead by a pathologist, the class headed off into the woods. Our first task was to find the mock shallow grave, which turned out to be harder than any of us expected. Once we identified the site, our instructor began a fascinating discussion of how law enforcement finds and how it handles this kind of discovery.
The instant I walked out of the woods, I knew that I had the jumping off point for the book I would begin writing next, NO ESCAPE.
NO ESCAPE features Texas Ranger Brody Winchester and forensic psychologist Jolene Granger. The once married duo joins forces when a dying serial killer announces he will offer a final confession but he’ll only tell it to Jo. Brody and Jo travel to the state prison and meet with Harvey Lee Davis who, good to his word, tells them where they can find the bodies of the victims he buried alive. Jo gets more than she bargained for. Harvey not only tries to get inside her head with hints about her past and her family, but makes it clear that the copycat killer who just emerged from the shadows is not only someone he knows and has been secretly communicating with, but is his apprentice. What began as an effort to bring closure to the family of the missing victims becomes a race against time as Jo and Brody work together to stop this new killer at any cost. And soon enough it becomes clear that Jo is part of his plan to win Harvey’s approval.
I’m always asked where I get my ideas and I can honestly say it’s the research. Whether it’s the WPA, my local Henrico County Citizens Police Academy, a Sisters in Crime meeting or the FBI Citizens Academy, I always walk away with facts and ideas that sooner or later end up in the my next book.
No Escape by Mary Burton
Genre: thriller suspense
About No Escape:
He Was Taught How To KillSource: Info in the About No Escape was from GoodReads at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17381896-no-escape on 24/09/2013.
Even behind bars, serial killer Harvey Day Smith exudes menace. Psychologist Jolene Granger has agreed to hear his dying confession, vowing not to let the monster inside her head. And Harvey has secrets to share—about bodies that were never found, and about the apprentice who is continuing his grisly work…
And Now He’ll Teach Them
He buries his victims alive the way his mentor Harvey did, relishing their final screams as the earth rains down. And as one last gift to the only father he knew, he’ll make the most perfect kill of all.
How To Die
Everything about this investigation is unnerving Jo, from Harvey’s fascination with her to the fact that she’s working alongside Texas Ranger Brody Winchester, her ex-husband. Harvey’s protégé is growing bolder and more vicious every day. And soon the trail of shallow graves will lead them to the last place Jo expected, and to the most terrifying truth of all…
Meet Mary Burton:
Mary Burton enjoys the hunt. This New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist, whose work has been compared to that of Steig Larson*, Lisa Gardner**, and Lisa Jackson***, has been intrigued by investigative work and the people who do it since Virginia, her home state, was stung by a string of serial killings that spanned more than twenty years. Not surprisingly, many of her suspense novels are fueled by the acts of multiple killers and the people who pursue them, as is NO ESCAPE, Mary's latest novel and the second in a trio of stories set in and around Austin. There she calls upon the people and resources of the state's lead investigative team, the Texas Rangers.Mary's Link(s):
NO ESCAPE's predecessor, THE SEVENTH VICTIM quickly became a USA Today bestseller. It was praised by reviewers, including Publishers Weekly, which says it "delivers action-packed suspense" and calls it "compelling.” Suspense Magazine hailed it as “an excellent thriller” and a “saga that readers will find unbelievably hard to put down.”
Mary's admiration for the work of law enforcement and the skills, insights and tools necessary to do it, is evident even in her earliest forays into suspense, such as In Dark Waters, in which a romance evolves when the Sheriff's office is called upon to solve a murder in rural Virginia. Future plots explored arson investigation, flaws within a witness protection program, and the reopening of a cold case.
Beginning with her novel I'm Watching You, Mary started connecting several cases and characters within the same department or agency. For I'm Watching You she invented a homicide unit for her hometown of Richmond, defined its strengths, weaknesses and resources, and kept those characters and elements in place through two additional stand-alone, but related, books, Dead Ringer and Dying Scream.
The three-book arc provided numerous creative options, especially as regards character development. This larger canvas allowed her to incorporate more of the forensic and procedural detail that fascinates her and her readers, and created new opportunities to explore dynamics unique to investigators working together over time.
Her other "connected" novels are Senseless, Merciless and Before She Dies, all set in Alexandria, and THE SEVENTH VICTIM, NO ESCAPE and YOU'RE NOT SAFE, which is being published in April 2014.
Mary's research has led her to interview a wide range of law enforcement personnel, to attend forensic seminars and to handle weaponry at the firing range. She is a graduate of the Henrico County Citizens Police Academy and the Richmond FBI Citizen's Academy, and has attended Sisters in Crime's Forensic University program and the Writers Police Academy in Jamestown, North Carolina, where the focus was on undercover work, autopsies, and the theories behind why people kill.
Despite her emphasis on hard facts related to the crimes she writes about, Mary's approach to each new novel is psychological. She backs away from details, whether it's forensic research or a plot point she's already fixating upon. To begin her story she needs answers to three questions about her killers: why do they kill, what demons drive them, and how do they choose their victims. The answers are critical to her plot, she says, just as they are for detectives solving a murder.
A Richmond native whose family roots run as deep as the nation's, Mary has lived there for most of her life. She graduated from Virginia's Hollins University and worked in marketing before deciding to write full time. Her first manuscript, a historical romance, was published in 2000.
Mary wrote several more romance novels and three novellas before embracing the dark world of suspense. She even managed to bring danger to her holiday novella, Christmas Past, which appears in the New York Times bestselling holiday anthology Silver Bells.
The author of twenty published novels and four novellas, Mary is a member of Thriller Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, for which she is president of the Central Virginia chapter. She travels frequently for signings, speaking engagements and other appearances. She is a frequent speaker at conferences, book festivals, book stores and libraries regarding writing and genre fiction, and is frequently asked to present her "Unraveling Romantic Suspense" workshop or her day-long program "Writing Your Book...The First Step."
An avid baker and an accomplished cook, Mary's discovered that the creativity of the kitchen entwines with her professional routine in unanticipated ways. It’s her ideal retreat when the writing hits a rough spot. Once there, she's working out dialogue, untangling plot lines and figuring out how to trap a killer before the oven has a chance to preheat.
When not committing murder, Mary pursues her Baking & Pastry Arts Certificate at the University of Richmond's Culinary Arts Program, and continues her involvement and appearances on behalf of Coordinators2inc, a lifetime adoption resource organization. She and her husband spend time alternately enjoying and lamenting their newly empty nest and spoiling their miniature dachshunds Buddy and Bella.
Mary is currently at work on her next novel, set in Nashville, and anticipating the November publication of her new Union Street Bakery novel, Sweet Expectations, written as Mary Ellen Taylor.