What a terrific read this was. In the space of an afternoon I read the whole story, not wanting to put the book down until I knew the outcome.
Violated follows 31-year-old FBI agent Brandon Fisher who works in its Behavioral Analysis Unit. He’s just out of his probationary period and become a fully-fledged agent. His position in the unit and the present investigation into a murder is complicated by a past romance with a co-worker who is implicated in the crime. It rapidly develops into hunting for a serial killer with serious sexual and mental problems.
It’s the fifth in Arnold’s Brandon Fisher FBI series.
Given it’s the first one in the series I’ve read I was pleased to find it was a stand-alone story with just enough references to previous books for me to understand the back story and relationships.
I was intrigued by Arnold’s use of first person point of view for Brandon Fisher and the criminal the unit was tracking down, and third person for all other characters. I liked it. I felt I was in their minds, feeling and thinking everything they were.
The pace was fast, the characters well developed and real, and the dialogue no-nonsense and entertaining while also revealing depth of character.
Scene-setting is minimal; some authors can paint a picture with a few words and Arnold is one of them.
Anyone wanting more than a surface skimming of people’s intentions and motives should like these stories. Arnold obviously does a lot of research before putting metaphorical pen to paper, and it shows.
Carolyn Arnold is the author of four series and several novels so she has obviously been writing for a while. However, I’m new to her work, having just read and reviewed one of her standalone novels, ASSASSINATION OF A DIGNITARY. Apart from liking the story I was impressed with the level of detail that had me wondering how she knows so much about the criminal mind and weaponry. So I decided to ask her!
Alana: Carolyn, welcome. Before we get into the nitty gritty of your writing would you tell us something about yourself. For a start, American or Canadian? I ask that because your website gives little away, saying only that you grew up in a small town and now call Toronto home.
Carolyn: I’m Canadian, eh. But let me tell you a little more. I was born in Picton, Ontario and live in Southwestern Ontario. I’m a city woman with the heart of a country girl. If given the choice between a nice hotel and camping, the choice would always be the former. But there’s also got to be time in life to just walk around barefoot outside, dip my toes into the water, and stroll through the woods.
Alana: Full or part time writer? If part-time what else occupies you?
Carolyn: Thanks to my amazing readers I became a full-time author the summer of 2014. There’s been no looking back. I realize every day how I’m truly living the dream and am full of gratitude.
Alana: That’s definitely the dream! How many books have you written, counting those within the series?
Carolyn: That it certainly is. It’s getting to the point that I’m losing count, but I’ve written nearly thirty books.
Alana: You’re an internationally best-selling author. What’s the criteria? Do you have to sell a specific number of books in certain countries?
Carolyn: To proclaim myself an international best-selling author I’ve reached within the top 100 of my genres on Amazon in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. I’ve also hit best-selling ranks on Apple iBooks and Barnes & Noble.
Alana: That’s one hell of an achievement! How many had you written before you hit the big time? Was it a case of being an overnight sensation or a gradual climb? Was it a particular series that swung it for you?
Carolyn: Wow, those are great questions. I published my first book, TIES THAT BIND, in May 2011. The movement at first was very slow. No one really knew who Carolyn Arnold was at all. By the fall of that year, sales picked up and continued to do so. Winter of 2011, I published two more books. But Ties that Bind was already working its way up the best-selling lists on Amazon.com. The book hit the top 5 in Police Procedurals on Amazon.com by the spring of 2012. I was moving thousands of copies a month.
Also key to my continued success is writing series. Readers love it when they can become attached to the characters, knowing there will be more stories with them.
Alana: Does your background, where you grew up, what you’re familiar with, make it into your books in any way?
Carolyn: Absolutely. I don’t see how it would be possible to keep those things out, and I believe it’s those elements that make it so readers resonate with certain authors. There are definitely deeper meanings embedded in my books and this comes from me as I’m a deep person.
Alana: Okay, that has definitely got to be explained. What do you mean by ‘deep’?
Carolyn: Oh, I like to give thought to the more universal questions about life—the whys, the why nots, and the what ifs. Some people don’t ask themselves these questions or look within, but I think it’s important for us to all spend some time by ourselves in silence, journaling, and just Being.
Alana: Do all of your books fall into the police procedurals category or do you also write in other genres?
Carolyn: The genre I’m primarily known for is police procedurals. Two of my four series fall into that category. I also write a cozy mystery series and I just published a debut novel in the action-adventure genre this past November. Even with the latter, there is a police investigation going on.
Alana: You use the tag ‘POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™’ on your website. How did you receive that endorsement?
Carolyn: Last April I attended a conference in Toronto with some powerful speakers on the roster. This included Raymond Aaron, Jack Canfield, and Loral Langemeier. A lot of the event was about branding. I came home and gave the matter a lot of thought. What made me stand out from other authors in my genre? What could I boast about specifically?
It came to me that I’d received many e-mails over the years from readers either currently serving in, or retired from, law enforcement. The feedback contained a common theme: I provided entertainment and accuracy. It was said that I got everything right from procedure to the interaction between my detectives and agents.
Thinking on this led me to my trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.
Alana: Would you tell us in a few words what each of the series is about?
Carolyn: Brandon Fisher FBI Series: New FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher hunts serial killers on a team with the Behavioral Analysis Unit.
Detective Madison Knight Series: A blend of Eve Dallas and Olivia Benson, Madison Knight is a feisty, chocolate-loving detective who will not let anyone—or anything—stop her from finding justice for murder victims.
McKinley Mysteries: Romance. Humor. Murder. Whether a case takes the McKinleys undercover, off the books, or around the world, they’ll get to the bottom of things … And they’ll be romancing it up along the way.
Matthew Connor Adventure Series: Action-adventure books for the mystery lover. In this series, modern-day archeologist and adventurer Matthew Connor travels the globe with his two closest friends to unearth treasure and discover legends the world has all but forgotten. Indiana Jones meets the twenty-first century.
Alana: Now for the question I promised to ask in my introduction. How do you seem to know so much about the criminal world and weaponry?
Carolyn: I have contacts who work, or who have worked, with law enforcement. If I have any questions concerning procedure or forensics I reach out to them.
Alana: And finally, can you say what you’re currently working on?
Carolyn: Currently I’m working on the final stages of edits with one manuscript while prepping another for a development edit with a professional. The fifth book in the Brandon Fisher FBI series, VIOLATED, is due out April 28th and is currently available for pre-order.
Alana: Carolyn, thank you for being my guest today.
Carolyn: Thank you for having me.
Carolyn’s bio: 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 just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.
Raymond Hunter, a retired Mafia assassin, has been living a quiet life for fifteen years with his adored wife Brenda, daughter and son, when the son of his old boss comes calling, wanting one last job done. Ray’s in no position to refuse when his family is threatened.
What ensues is gripping, gritty and compelling suspense. The police are on Ray’s trail almost from the start, the FBI becomes involved and a Mafia internal power play draws them all in.
I can’t remember the last time I read a story in which I found myself rooting for the assassin, but in this one I did.
The author’s knowledge of crime and weaponry adds to the atmospherics as does the writing style. I’ll say it again: gritty.
The reason I’ve given it a four star rating rather than a five is because Ray’s wife and daughter get a minimal point of view airing. I think the story would have benefitted from either staying exclusively with the main characters or giving the women in his life more page space.
There was just one more deficiency for me. Towards the end of the story Brenda’s past and a possible part in the crime is alluded to without being explained. It left me wondering. If there is to be a sequel, then I understand, because it may be explained at some point. If there isn’t a sequel, then it’s left me hanging.
Elisabeth, it’s lovely to finally meet you. I’ve been wanting to talk to you ever since the revelations that came out during Russell Montgomery’s trial. I thought we could tackle it by starting at the beginning and working our way from there.
Elisabeth: Sounds good to me.
What prompted you to move from Sydney to Canberra?
Elisabeth: I love Sydney but not to put too fine a point on it I felt I had to leave. Work and life there were no longer tenable.
You were with Legal Aid and you moved to the Canberra Legal Aid office. So it wasn’t Legal Aid as such that you wanted to move away from?
Elisabeth: No. It was more that I kept running into someone I wanted nothing to do with.
Would that be Thierry Richards QC?
Elisabeth: Look … regardless of how I feel about that person I don’t want to … would you mind if we moved on.
Okay, let’s talk about when you arrived in Canberra. You jumped in at the deep end with the Russell Montgomery case.
Elisabeth: I’m really sorry… but do you mind if we don’t talk about that either. It’s still very raw.
Not a problem. I understand. Let’s take a step back. Describe yourself to me. How do you see yourself?
Elisabeth: Okay. Let me attempt a bit of objectivity. Short spiky red hair. I used to be able to sit on it but had it cut before coming to Canberra. Typical redhead’s colouring … white, no freckles because I’ve never been a sunlover, size 10, 5’7” in bare feet, and I’m 34. How’s that? Oh, and shall I tell you what Robert said about my eyes? Green as deep ocean on a sunbright day. I was speechless when he said it. No-one’s ever described them quite like that before. So now you’d know me in a crowd, yes?
Yes, I believe I would. Next question: What do you hope to achieve in life?
Elisabeth: That a big question. Many things I suppose, but happiness has to be at the top. Nothing’s worth it if you’re not happy.
And are you? Happy, that is.
Elisabeth: I’m working on it.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Elisabeth: I’m a walker. For the exercise but also because I love it. Getting out and exploring and letting my mind wander. Never fails to refresh and re-invigorate.
Your friend Honey Milton was often a walking companion I believe. What is she to you?
Elisabeth: My best friend. Always will be. She’s gorgeous. I adore her. I miss her like crazy now that I’m in Canberra. We used to see each other all the time because her man travels a lot. He’s an actor and tours with his company. And as you say, we both liked walking. Not so often together nowadays, given we now live in different cities.
What about Robert Murphy?
Elisabeth: Robert? I liked him the moment I met him. He’s straightforward, sincere, good at his job. What’s not to like? The fact that he’s very attractive is a plus … . He stuck with me from the start despite the fact I couldn’t have been very likeable. I had my reasons, but he didn’t know that. But I count him among my good friends now. I hope he feels the same way about me.
As much as I’d like to explore that further I know you don’t want to, so let’s turn to the trial. What was it about the Stavros family that irked you so much?
Elisabeth: Every single one of them was lying and I knew it. But proving it was almost impossible because of Russell’s amnesia. Thank God for Robert and Joe Gaudry. In spite of me being no help they kept pushing. It was entirely because of them we got to the truth.
Let’s finish with what’s made you the woman you are today?
Elisabeth: Mmm. That may be a question better put to others. But I’ll have a go at it. On a personal level I was very young when I made the decision that altered my life. At the time I felt it was the only choice I could make, I believed I was too young to do anything else. I still believe that. But I feel the weight of condemnation from some people. I try not to let it bother me. On a professional level, law was something that always interested me. When I started university I began a Bachelor of Arts, but the law components really gripped me so I changed and ended up doing a combined Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Economics. I still like law. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t be happy doing something else … if something else came along.
Elisabeth, thanks, I know you weren’t looking forward to this and what I might have been planning to ask you. How about we go for a drink. My shout.
Elisabeth: It’s Friday night so why not. Great idea. Just so you know though. Anything I say under the influence is not for public consumption.
Fair enough. Grab your bag then. There’s a new bar opened up in Garema Place. I thought we could see if it’s any good.
You can find Elisabeth and get to know her story in AUTOMATON