Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.
Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.
Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself. ~
Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.
Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. Her new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT released in the spring of 2014 under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press.
You can find more about Nike and her books at: http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com
Barbara’s review of Harmful Intent:
I just finished reading Nike Chillemi’s new mystery, Harmful Intent. It’s the 1st book in a new series starring New York City private eye, Ronnie Ingels and Texas born and bred, Deputy Dawson Hughes. The two characters, with their different backgrounds, perspectives and personalities, play off each other like great classic movie stars. Although this is a contemporary whodunit, I can well imagine Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in the roles when they were young (and alive.)
Harmful Intent starts off with Ronnie finding out her husband isn’t just out of town on business a lot; he’s been having an affair on the side. Feeling like an emotional basket case, she decides to take some days off from her job as a P.I. and fly to Texas to visit an old college friend for a little pity party. But things don’t go as planned when she finds her cheating husband there, cheating with her “former” friend. Things go from bad to worse quickly and soon Ronnie is a suspect in her husband’s murder.
This mystery has gut-wrenching pathos, adrenaline-laced action, and gritty crime scenes, interspersed with just the right amount of humor. I loved the descriptions of Texas and southern charm from a New Yorker’s point of view. It was a kick! The sideline story of budding romance between the two protagonists is light and fun and I can envision more to come as their relationship grows. Nike Chillemi has written a terrific mystery and I wholeheartedly suggest you pick up.
Interview with Nike Chillemi
Barbara: Hi Nike! Thanks for stopping by The Thin Line today. I hear you have a new book out and it is the beginning of a brand new series. Book one in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes Novels. That’s exciting! I’d read a couple of your Sanctuary Point stories and know what a terrific mystery writer you are, so I immediately downloaded my copy and started reading Harmful Intent. And I loved it!
Can you tell us a little about how you came up with your protagonist and storyline and what made you go from writing historical mysteries to a contemporary setting?
Nike: HARMFUL INTENT started out as a writing prompt where I was challenged to put my heroine in unfamiliar territory. So, I thought, let’s put a female Brooklyn born and bred private investigator in Texas. Then to ramp it up, let’s have her be the prime suspect in her cheating husband’s murder there. At the most I thought I’d have a short story, but my characters soon exerted themselves, became multi-dimensional and viola, I had a novel. I kinda love it when my characters go rouge and write themselves.
Barbara: The Sanctuary Point series is set in the 1940s and maybe because of that the stories felt a little softer around the edges for me, like a faded photograph. Although they weren’t in your face, digitally enhanced with every blood spatter and love scene in 3D glory–like many novels these days–they still managed to convey a realistic sense of evil in the crime scenes and mysteries. Would you say that this new series is a bit grittier than what you’ve written before or along the same lines, but in contemporary times?
Nike: Well as you put it, this one is a bit more in your face. Next to feisty in the dictionary is my heroine’s picture. Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels is competent, smart, and complex. She’s also got that New York pluck and wry sense of humor. Aside from the fact that her husband just dumped her for another woman and then went and got himself killed (and she’s a suspect), she’s got childhood demons to battle. I love to make these unwelcome feelings surface at the most inopportune times when Ronnie is on the hunt for the killer.
Barbara: Who are some of your favorite mystery/thriller writers or perhaps books that have influenced the way you write?
Nike: The Christian authors who have impacted my writing are: Sibella Giorello, Robert Liparulo, J. Mark Bertrand, and James Scott Bell. In general fiction, the crime fiction writers who have influenced me are Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Barbara Parker, and Lee Child.
Barbara: I have always been an Indie author and I love to support and promote other authors, both traditionally published and self-pubbed, whenever I can. Recently I have noticed many traditional authors, even those who called self-publishing a “fool’s game”, now throwing their gauntlet down in the Indie world. Having released your previous books with a small publishing house, what made you decide to step out and self-publish this new series?
Nike: I’ve always respected indie-authors and I’m a reader and admirer of your Fredrickson winery series, as well as the work of other indie-authors both Christian and general market. One of the reasons I created the Grace Awards was to give indie-authors and authors from small Christian publishing houses an awards they could enter on a level playing field with those from the big houses. In my own writing career, I went the usual route. I submitted my work to several Christian writing contests and the judges were always split. Some loved my “knack for suspense” and my ability to write what brought to mind “classic pulp fiction.” Some of them, not so much. The not so much crowd thought my crime scenes were too gritty and that I needed a lot more romance. I’m crazy about a love story in crime fiction, but in a mystery, I don’t like what is usually thought of as romance. I like action and the hunt for the killer. When I started submitting to agents and editors, I realized they were going to change a lot of things in my writing…to the point that it wouldn’t be me. Then a writer friend told me to submit to Desert Breeze and assured me that Gail Delaney, editor and chief there, would not do that. She didn’t. She trusted the research I did and my knowledge of police procedure and she let me go.
However, I wanted to write in first person and Desert Breeze doesn’t do first person. Not only that, I wanted to write both the heroine and the hero in first person. I wanted to get into the personality of the character to such an extent that it would be obvious at the start of a scene whose point of view the scene or chapter was in. So, I decided to self-pub. I thought I’d start off with a short story but as I mentioned it became a novel. Not only that, the concept has grown into a “couples series.” I’ve got four law enforcement couples on the drawing board. I intend to have a main character from one novel show up as a secondary or minor character in another novel in the series. Each couple will have two to three books. So, it will turn out to be quite an endeavor.
Barbara: Thanks for the chat, Nike, and for sharing the release of your new novel, Harmful Intent. I wish you all the best and much success!
Purchase Harmful Intent here
Thanks for stopping! If you have a question for Nike, leave a comment!