Choir Loft Murder

Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas Book 3

by Karen Randau

Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Her fiancé a murderer? As she digs for the truth, she must fight to survive a plot to frame the man she loves.

Frankie Shep has endured too many tragedies in her life. When she finally dares to love again, a revengeful plot threatens to cancel her wedding plans and send her fiancé to death row. But this feisty modern-day rancher won't stand for it.

A member of the church choir dies from a blowgun dart to a vital artery, and the murder weapon implicates Quint. Frankie is shocked to discover Quint was a champion blowgun competitor but quit the sport after a family disaster. And now he’s refusing to talk about his fate.

So she takes it on herself to track down the killer before Quint accepts a life-altering plea deal. She's devastated when she unearths his motive for the crime. But someone else lurks in the shadows, and that's who she's determined to find. Little does she know the killer follows her every move, ready to strike her down when she gets too close.

Can she unravel the vindictive plot before she becomes a crazed killer's next victim?

Choir Loft Murder is the riveting third book in the Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas series. If you like engaging heroines, twisty plots, and eerie settings, then you’ll love Karen Randau’s pulse-pounding thriller.

Buy Choir Loft Murder to expose a ruthless murderer today!

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Survival Instinct

Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas Book 2

When rescuers don't come, she must fight to save herself, a toddler, and a dog from unthinkable odds, but a mass murder wants to make them his next victims.

Frankie Shep’s secret has haunted her since the deaths of her husband and young son. Just when she thinks her life is back on track, tragedy strikes again. Her flight crashes on a lofty peak in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. She has no food, water, or shelter in arctic conditions. She awaits certain death.

Instinct kicks in when she finds the only other survivors, a toddler and a small dog. She taps into skills she learned as a child to overcome unspeakable odds. But the guy who crashed the airplane will do anything to guarantee that all witnesses perish.

Can Frankie save her troupe and find redemption she seeks? Or will her secret die with her when they become the killer’s next victims?

Buy Survival Instinct now to find out!

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Chapter 1

 Frankie stopped beside the security checkpoint entrance at the Rawlins airport, thirty miles south of where her ranch was nestled beneath Wyoming’s Rocky Mountains. She leaned her bag against her jeans-attired leg, and pulled at the scratchy wool turtleneck her best friend had insisted she wear.

As always, the sincere love in her new fiancé’s ocean-blue eyes melted her insides.

Quint lifted her left hand to fiddle with the diamond ring he had placed there two days earlier. “It’s only a day-long conference.” He directed the words at her, but she wondered if maybe he needed to remind himself. “You’re sure you’re in the back row, right? I’ve heard it’s safer back there.”

With a nod, she wove her fingers through his collar-length sandy hair. “Very last seat by the back exit. I’ll be home before you have time to miss me.” Removing the pandemic-required mask, she stood up on her hiking-boot-clad toes and kissed his soft lips. She was ready to suggest she stay rather than fly out to discuss environmental conservation on a cattle ranch when a tiny pink bag landed across her foot.

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” The rattled young brunette wore a bulging backpack and a parka draped across her muscled left arm. She grabbed her toddler’s hand. “Olivia, apologize for running over this lady.”

The child blushed and lowered her head in embarrassment. “Sawy.”

Frankie winked at the mother. “I forgive you. You’re wearing a beautiful snowsuit. Is that Elsa from Frozen?” She brushed her hand against the sparkly pink and blue fabric.

Olivia grabbed her mother’s leg as she peeked up at Frankie.

“I can’t get her out of it,” the mother said from behind the N90 mask that sported an Army emblem.

Olivia pointed a tiny index finger at Frankie’s shoulder-length hair. “Mommy, why she’s hair ounch?”

The mortified young mother gasped. “Olivia!”

Frankie knelt to the child’s level. “They call my hair color ginger.” She fluffed her waves. “Want to see what it feels like?”

Olivia nodded, then slid a hand across Frankie’s curls before retreating to her hiding spot behind her mother’s leg.

Quint helped Frankie stand. He laid his hand on her back and whispered in her ear, “We could have one of those.”

It was Frankie’s turn to blush; Quint’s words caused butterflies in her stomach.

Olivia and her mother moved on, allowing Frankie to say a final goodbye with a powerful hug and quick kiss, as Quint put her surgical mask back in place.

“They said they wouldn’t let you in the venue without that.” He kissed her forehead and turned her toward the security checkpoint entrance. “I’m praying for a safe trip.”

When Frankie arrived at her gate, little Olivia gave a shy wave from a row of three chairs near the jetway door. Frankie looked for a seat but found none that were unoccupied. Olivia’s mother removed her backpack from the armchair beside her and gestured for Frankie to sit.

“Headed to Denver?” the mother asked.

Frankie offered a fist bump, made popular because of the pandemic. “Yes, Denver. I’m Frankie. You?”

The woman followed her enthusiastic fist bump with another bump to the elbow, then giggled.

“Shannon. I got out of the Army when I got pregnant with Olivia. We’re meeting my husband in San Diego.” She gave an embarrassed smile. “You should have seen me convincing the airline to take our kayak. Anyway, my husband is still serving and just got back from Afghanistan. It’s his twenty-sixth birthday.”

Her excitement showed in the way she pumped her arm. “He has the month off. My mom is going to watch Olivia while we take a weekend to ourselves for a kayak camping trip.”

“Thank you for your service. And I hope you have a wonderful weekend.” Frankie looked up to see two pilots and two flight attendants approach the door beside her.

The younger flight attendant, a blond and blue-eyed beauty in her twenties, touched her pointy-toe pump to the shorter pilot’s three overstuffed bags. “Going on vacation?”

“After all this time with barely enough hours to pay my rent, sumbitches furloughed me. Had to clean out my apartment and my locker.” He glanced at the other pilot and clutched his leather satchel even closer.

Frankie touched her gurgling stomach and tried to smile at Shannon. “Should have eaten breakfast.”

Olivia shoved a package of fruit snacks toward her. Frankie graciously accepted the gift as they called for pre-boarding; the mother and daughter disappeared into the boarding bridge. While stuffing the snack into her pocket, her mind wandered to how nervous she was about this trip. That, combined with the way those two pilots looked at each other, gave her an uneasy edge.

* * *

Soon after reaching cruising altitude, the younger flight attendant handed Frankie a bag of peanuts and placed a steaming cup of coffee on her tray table. Half-way through her pseudo breakfast, Frankie struggled to keep her eyes open. She set down her cup and leaned back in her seat. Next thing she knew, she was awakened by a bump to her head.

A yellow blur swung across her vision but lost her attention when an ear-splitting boom outside her window startled her. Olivia screamed in the seat in front of her; Shannon threw her body across Olivia’s.

As the commuter plane plunged toward a snowbank somewhere over Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, Frankie’s first thought wasn’t a prayer for mercy or even guidance if she survived.

Where’s my mask? Then she immediately regretted that in her confusion, she hadn’t thought of Quint first. Surely that counted: wondering if she should have thought of him instead of her surgical mask.

She turned her attention to the chaos around her. The older flight attendant, a forty-something woman with red-tipped fingernails, ran down the aisle, then barked instructions for the dozen passengers to brace themselves against the seat in front of them. “Shoes on, jackets zipped, feet flat on the floor,” she yelled over the intercom. “Fingers laced behind your head.”

Time slowed. Frankie squeezed her eyes shut, grimacing while she envisioned the embankment rushing toward her window. She hoped Quint was right about it being safer to sit in the back. 

Her hair flew around her face. She fought to keep her arms and head against the seatback. A loud snap, then the seatbelt dug into her abdomen. Icy air stung her face. Something hit the back of her seat before she somersaulted through the air. Her arms, legs, and head flopped; warmth oozed around her thighs when her bladder emptied.

The seat bounced so hard it knocked the air out of her lungs; her arms and legs propelled up and out as it slid backward. She glimpsed blue sky as snow and ice pelted her face like thousands of needles.

Her life and the people she loved sprinted through her mind. The mother who had helped her through dyslexia and died too soon. The father who had taught her ranching and survival skills only to be murdered by a serial killer. Her dead husband and son. Her best friends Cole, Isabella, and their girls. Quint’s sweet proposal spiced by a Texas drawl.

A sudden stop snatched her breath again, and darkness overcame her.


Mystery Bones Murders

Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas Book 1

A stalker terrorizing her land. When dead bodies link to her past, can she survive a plot to destroy her future?

Frankie Shep holds a shameful secret close to her heart. Plagued by guilt over her husband and son’s deaths, the feisty modern-day rancher isolates herself with just her animals for companions. But she’s shocked when a human bone exposed during a storm reveals evidence of a brutal seventeen-year-old crime.

As her nightmares become a harsh reality when more gruesome remains surface, Frankie starts to track down a shadowy serial killer after discovering her father is missing. And she fears a looming threat is right at her back door, ready to strike her down.

Can she dig up the truth before she’s buried deep in a lonely grave?

Mystery Bones Murders is the gripping first book in the Frankie Shep Suspense Novellas series. If you like engaging heroines, twisty plots, and eerie settings, then you’ll love Karen Randau’s pulse-pounding thriller.

Buy Mystery Bones Murders to unearth skeletons today!

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Karen Randau authors fast-paced mystery, thriller, and suspense books, including the Frankie Shep Suspense Novella series, Rim Country Mysteries, and Deadly Reception (a stand-alone novella as one of seven of the Tawnee Mountain Mysteries box set written by best-selling and award-winning authors). Her Rim Country Mystery novel, Deadly Payload, was a finalist in the Book Excellent Awards and the Beverly Hills Book Awards.

She’s a lifelong writer, both for fun and as a professional in marketing communications. She retired in 2018 from the international relief and development organization Food for the Hungry, where she frequently blogged about topics related to social justice and poverty. She holds a degree in journalism/public relations. A native of the southwestern U.S., Karen lives with her husband in Arizona.

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