Message From The Author
Rachel Lee Presents BEFORE I SLEEP
Before I Sleep was born out of a title I'd been thinking about using for years: Echoes. The word held so much resonance for me that when I was thinking about the plot for my first Warner Books novel, I seized on it. Echoes of the past,
of a relationship that had died once and was being reborn. Echoes of all the problems that had torn two people apart, and destroyed all the love they had once shared.
The title Before I Sleep entwined with that idea of echoes and shaped everything that happened from page one.
It fit perfectly, and gave rise to the mood and yearning that fills this book.
This was a difficult book to write, for many reasons. It touched on an issue, capital punishment, about which I have strong mixed feelings. I didn't want to write a social essay, nor would I even attempt to condense the pros and cons of that very complex issue into a fictional work. And yet, I found myself wondering how I would feel if, as a police officer or as a prosecutor, I had helped to develop and present the evidence that might send a man to his death, when I wasn't sure he was guilty.
For radio talk show host and former prosecutor Carrie Justice and police detective Seamus Rourke, these echoes become more than idle speculation.
As the clock counts down to the execution of John William Otis, whom they had worked together to convict five years before, those echoes become profoundly intimate issues of personal responsibility in the machinery of justice.
Intertwined with these echoes are those of the love they had once shared, and lost in the wake of the Otis case. Each torn by conflicts too painful to confide, they had let themselves slip apart. Now, as others associated with the Otis case are killed one by one, Carrie prods Seamus to reopen the case, and the wounds of their relationship are torn open as well.
The character of Danny Rourke, Seamus' father, provided the third thinking that, for me, so often rounds out a book. Danny was involved in the death of Seamus' daughter, and the two had broken off almost all contact. Now
an old drunkard, despondent and riddled with guilt, Danny's return to Seamus life raises even more echoes, layered atop those of Carrie and Otis.
All of these elements are set against the beautiful Tampa Bay area, where I live. It is, itself, an area rife with echoes and tensions, between the idyllic paradise that once was and the often-overcrowded urban sprawl that is now, between the lives people have left behind and the
lives they have tried to begin anew.
Before I Sleep is a book about echoes of the past sounding in the present, hoping for a future. It's the type
of tense, poignant emotional tapestry
that reflects the echoes in our own lives, no matter how soft they are sounding.
In this EXCERPT, Carrie has gotten drunk after hearing John Otis is to die. Seamus has unwillingly rescued her and taken
She rose and went to get the coffee pot, returning with it to top off both their mugs. "I'm sorry I wrecked your evening," she said as she put the pot back on the warming plate.
His evening had been wrecked from the minute he'd opened his door to see his dad standing there. What did one more drunk matter? "I listen to your radio show sometimes," he said, wanting to change the subject now.
"Yeah?" She resumed her seat and gave him a pinched smile that didn't reach her eyes. "Crusader for truth and justice, that's me. Holding back the abysmal tide of ignorance about our justice system with a broom."
He shrugged and sipped coffee.
No subject was safe with her tonight.
"I'll bet it really chaps your hide when I talk about how cops lie."
He sucked air through his teeth.
"Really? I thought you were a
crusader for truth and justice, too."
"I'm a crusader for justice. There isn't any truth."
"Ahh. So lying is okay?"
"I didnt say that." He could feel his temper heating again. "And this isn't your goddamn talk show, so don't get smart with me. Evidence is all we have. The truth is unknowable."
He shoved back from the table, deciding he'd had enough of her. "Have a nice life, Ms. Justice."
He headed for the door, and heard her following him. The sweater, he noticed, was still lying on the first stair, abandoned and forgotten.
As he opened the door, he turned his head and saw her staring at him, her eyes wide and hollow-looking, her arms folded tightly across her breasts as if she were cold to the bone.
"Don't you get it, Rourke?" she said softly. "Without truth, there is no justice." Exactly the words she had spoken when she had told him she was quitting the prosecutors office.
He didn't even say goodnight. He stepped out into the warm, muggy air and felt the raindrops pick up where they'd left off. If he never saw her again, it would be too damn soon.
You can write to Rachel Lee c/o Warner Books, 1271 Sixth Ave., 9th Floor, New York, NY 10020.
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