Dead Girl Running by Christina Dodd is a sprint read, a fast-paced page-turner. Those who liked her Virtue Falls novels will love this first book
of a new series. It does not have the paranormal element or much romance, but the mystery is action-packed.
The novella is an introduction to the book, explaining Kellen’s time in Afghanistan, how she sustained the injury for a medical discharge, and how she recovered. In addition, the novella storyline introduces
readers to the Monument Men that searched for artifacts taken by the Nazis. Kellen works with General Lawrence Slater in trying to find some famous paintings hidden in a German cave.
This leads into the book plot and explains some of Kellen’s backstory.
In the novel, there are
two mysteries the main character, Kellen, is trying to solve: what happened during an earlier year of her life, after she was shot in the head, losing her memory for that period of time, and in current time, trying to discover who killed a woman found buried
without her hands. Hired as an assistant manager of a remote vacation resort, Yearning Sands, she uses her former military skills to find the culprits. The intenseness of the backstory is very well developed through Kellen’s
nightmares and flashbacks.
This “who done it” has a list that can go on forever. Kellen
is unsure whom to trust. This includes Nils Brooks who impersonates a mild-mannered author with black-rimmed glasses that turns out to be a well-toned combat ready government official working for the MFAA. This appears to be a shout out to Superman considering it is the 80th Anniversary where he was first introduced in an action comic book.
Smugglers, murder, and loss of memory are intertwined to make this a gripping story.
Elise Cooper: You bravely tackle the issue of abuse?
Christina Dodd: Way back when I went to an RWA meeting I heard two public defender lawyers speak about abused women. What they said never left my mind. I knew at some
point I was going to write something on this issue. Because I wanted my main character, Kellen, strong, I knew I had to tell this part of the story in flashbacks.
EC: You speak of how they become brainwashed and slowly lose control?
CD: Battered women are brainwashed. One of the things the lawyers said was the on average these women leave nine times before they are ever going to leave forever. The first time they leave all the friends and family enthusiastically helps them out, but then they end up going back to their husband. By the ninth-time people are reluctant to help them anymore.
EC: The main heroine has an alias?
CD: She was Cecilia, an abused wife who felt helpless, was belittled, and broken. She took her cousin’s identity and became Kellen, who, after joining the military, became
someone strong, determined, and brave. The year of unconsciousness had her go from Cecilia who needed someone to protect her to Kellen, a self-sufficient person. In future books this character will have to come to
grips with the split personality.
State is a character?
CD: I want to get to a point where I own the Washington coast and every little town is mine with murders going
on all the time. There are a lot of eccentric people who live here so I have a lot to go on. I wanted to make them tourist towns because it will be plausible for all these
murders with people constantly wandering in and out. What makes it more suspenseful is that everything here is affected by the weather, with extreme change from light to dark, during the winter months with cold,
windblown, and stormy foggy days/nights. The weather is not an, ‘in passing conversation piece,’ but is actually an issue. The geography also plays into the plot with the Pacific Ocean, the mountains,
and the desert. I have lived in many states including Texas, California, and Idaho. For me, this is the most expressive state.
EC: Why have Kellen enlist in the Army?
CD: I put her in the military to get her overseas, to disappear completely. Once there she changed how she thought, what she thought, and found a sense of fellowship.
She overcame her permissiveness and became more talented. I purposely wrote how she hired her fellow soldiers to show how they are very capable, disciplined, with a great skill set. I know about this because
my father and husband are vets.
EC: There is not much romance in this book?
CD: True. There is more romance in the second book. This is a four-book series and I feel it is actually
one long book broken up into four parts. At this point in my career I do not want to force anything. After being published for twenty years I am still happy with what I
EC: Please discuss the MFAA?
CD: It was an organization that was actually part of the Army during WWII. They were going around trying to
save European art. I believe they were de-commissioned in 1946. I just brought them back through the character Nils Brooks. The
terrorists are really looting and selling artifacts on the black market to fund their causes. Maybe the government will get an idea from this story.
EC: What do you think is the theme?
People are not who they seem to be. I think everyone wears a mask. They only show one side or a completely different side. I think authors have two sides, one where
we sit by ourselves and talk to imaginary characters, and the other when we go to book signings. I flip the personality because I am a terrified public speaker.
EC: What about your short stories?
each book I will be writing a novella. The first short story introduces Kellen as a military person. She developed the ability to catalog people while serving. Readers will find out how she feels about her peers and why they are loyal to one another with such camaraderie.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next books?
The title will be, What Doesn’t Kill Me, with the first line, ‘what doesn’t kill me had better start running.’ It will be out next February. She starts out in Oregon and will
have an adventure traveling to different places. The third book will have her back at the resort, Yearning Sands. I know readers will be asking so I want to let them know
the Virtue Falls series is off to the side for a while. I do have a book plotted out and ready to go, but since I changed publishers I will have to see how it will work.