ON THE COUNT OF THREE
by Carolyn Arnold
And they thought prison was hell…
When a woman’s disappearance ticks off all the same boxes as two unsolved murders, Miami homicide detective Kelly Marsh is convinced there’s about to be a third. If she’s right and the killer sticks to their previous MO, she only has three days before Jenna Kelter’s decapitated head will show up somewhere in the city. With no time to waste, Kelly reaches out to the one person she knows can help: her former mentor and family friend Jack Harper, who just happens to lead a team with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.
BAU special agent and profiler Brandon Fisher easily sees the similarities between Detective Marsh’s missing person case and the two cold cases: all three victims served time for DUI vehicular homicide and disappeared three days after being released from prison. But is that enough to assume Kelter has been abducted by a serial killer? Brandon’s not so sure and fears his boss may have let his personal connection to Marsh cloud his judgment. Surely there isn’t any other explanation for why they jumped into an investigation less than twenty-four hours after Kelter was reported missing. Then again, maybe Brandon is letting his own differences with the detective affect his perspective. He’ll need to move past it, though—and quickly.
After all, this killer has evaded capture for the past six years, and they may be looking at a lot more victims than originally suspected. This serial killer is calling the shots and pulling them into a macabre game of cat and mouse. While the team has no choice but to play, if they don’t make the right moves, one of them may not make it out of Miami alive.
Writing an Engaging Series: A Look at FBI Thriller ON THE COUNT OF THREE
Article by Carolyn Arnold
The more books you write in a series, the steeper the challenges. The overall plot, the killer(s), the method, the victimology are rather easy. What is more difficult is coming up with ways for your characters to grow. It requires that you dig deep into out their backgrounds, their motivations, and their experience. If authors get lazy in this regard, it will show in the final product.
For this reason, I endeavor to interview my characters to really drill down and find out what about the plot has that can parallel to their personal or professional lives. Sometimes it’s harder than it sounds. When it came to writing On the Count of Three, I interviewed several of the characters—even ones outside the series’ main characters.
In this book, I’m introducing someone who may become a part of the series and there’s only one shot at a first impression. You need to make sure the character is strong and relatable—real—so that readers can connect with them and want to know more about that person. Further, then that, you want the reader so invested in the character, they’ll want to follow them for many books to come.
Also, if you’re writing a police procedural series like me, it’s crucial to get the facts right. If you’re familiar with my work, you realize just how important this aspect is to me. I’ve even adopted the trademark Police Procedurals Respected by Law Enforcement™. This wasn’t a decision that I chose, but rather that chose me. I’ve had many people from law enforcement reach out to me over the years to tell me how accurate my books are. Some have said they even see themselves in the characters as if looking in a mirror.
So how do I get my facts right when I don’t have a background in law enforcement? Research, but I’ve also been blessed with a network of people who have experience in law enforcement to answer my questions. They are so understanding and selfless with their time in responding. What I’ve found is they are appreciative that I am taking the time to make sure procedure is as accurate as possible.
I am pleased to say that even though the challenges can be great—and at times seem insurmountable—I believe my hard work has paid off again with the seventh installment in the Brandon Fisher FBI series. On the Count of Three took much longer to finish up than I would have liked, but I believe the final product makes up for any delay.
I invite you to download a copy of On the Count of Three or order in paperback or hardcover from your favorite retailer. But be warned: this book isn’t for the faint of heart.
About the Brandon Fisher FBI series:
Profilers. Serial killers. The hunt is on. Do serial killers and the FBI fascinate you? Do you like getting inside the minds of killers, love being creeped out, sleeping with your eyes open, and feeling like you’re involved in murder investigations? Then join FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team with the Behavioral Analysis Unit in their hunt for serial killers.
This is the perfect book series for fans of JT Ellison, Catherine Coulter, Allison Brennan, and Blake Pierce. This series is also bound to entertain those who enjoy Criminal Minds, NCIS, Silence of the Lambs, Seven, Dexter, Luther, and True Crime.
Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning: Eleven, Silent Graves, The Defenseless, Blue Baby, Violated, Remnants, On the Count of Three.
The coffee in my gut was a churning, acidic whirlpool. The victims had been alive when their heads were severed. Now give me bloody murder scenes any day of the week. But decapitations? No thank you. Maybe it all started with that “neck bone connected to the head bone” song as a kid? Even kids know a head should always be attached to the body! I ran a hand through my hair, basking in the fact that my head was still there.
My repulsion wasn’t because I was still wet behind the ears. I’d seen my fair share of serial killers’ handiwork since I’d come on board with the BAU about three years ago: Some who tortured, some who raped, some who mutilated bodies. Even one who wore his victims’ skin, but the latter desecration had been done postmortem.
And here I was, not even in Florida yet, and my pops’s voice was in my mind. He’d have no sympathy for what I faced every day on this job. He’d never been a fan of the BAU; he would have been happier if I’d enrolled and served in the Navy as he had. To him, serving God and Country was more in line with patriotic duty. That was all fine and good, and I had no doubt it was because of him that I’d hoped for an assignment in counterterrorism when I finished at Quantico. But that wasn’t meant to be. And I’d adjusted. The work I did with the Bureau made a difference regardless of Pops’s opinion. We brought closure to devastated loved ones, got justice for innocent victims, and on the best days, even saved lives.
My gaze fell to a photo of Jenna Kelter, and I stared into her eyes. She was the image of a thirtysomething girl next door. She was a brunette with hazel eyes and a cute smile. We needed to save her, and the fastest path there was to figure out what sort of killer we were dealing with. I considered this killer’s actions thus far and drew a preliminary conclusion. “Our unsub is intelligent, organized, yet adaptive,” I posited. “They have the patience to wait until circumstances fit their needs.”
Paige nodded. “That could also indicate they’d watched their targets beforehand.”
“Even if they were familiar with all the victims’ routines before prison, what’s to say their schedules resumed that within three days of release,” I opined.
“Well, they obviously knew where to strike to get them alone. None of the families or their friends saw the abductions.” Paige pressed her lips, a little smugness coming from her.
I flipped through the pages, looking for details on their bail hearings. “I’m assuming Kelter got out on bail?” I’d read enough of the file to know that she didn’t have any prior DUI offenses, so the bail amount would likely have been set low.
“She did. And her trial came quickly because she didn’t dispute the charges,” Zach said. “According to the file, she’d expressed remorse.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t watch anything too grisly on television. Not a Criminal Minds kind of girl. Love my true crime stuff though. Go figure. What I really liked about this book is that has realistic characters that are somewhat at a crossroads in their careers and in life. While dealing with a serial killer. My kind of book. I like the human aspect of a thriller. Ms. Arnold does not disappoint for me.
I’ll also admit that this is my first Brandon Fisher book. I really liked him. At times, he was whiny but I could totally understand this from him. Not everything is going to be crystal clear and people get frustrated with their job. It makes him human and I appreciate that I got to know him in that way. Plus, he is also dealing with the possibility that a team member is leaving and then having someone come in as the “competition”. Again, real-life issues regardless of the job. And I loved how his mind worked.
The actual story is a nail biter. There are some grisly parts but for a reader to fully understand the plot, they needed to be put in there. The research and the attention to detail that Ms. Arnold writes about is just AWESOME!!! I’ve read Madison Knight books and they are so good because I feel like I’m actually there. I felt the same with Brandon Fisher. I really think that I need to go back and at least read the first book in the series.
All that said, this book isn’t all Fisher. In fact, I thought it was more about Zach, who works in the unit. His story comes full circle and at times, I just wanted to hug him. Again, real-world issues. At the end of the day, you have to make the right decision for you and for your family and I think he did so. I couldn’t imagine seeing the things that they have seen and not be affected by it all. Plus, as I’ve said before, there are just some really grisly stuff in the book. Definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s not a cozy mystery.
Overall, I really enjoyed getting to know the unit and Brandon Fisher. I will back for more.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.
Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.
Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.
She currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.
Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:
Website – http://carolynarnold.net/
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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
PLEASE MENTION THE PRIZE THAT THE AUTHOR WILL BE GIVING AWAY:
paperback copy of Remnants