Nancy Mehl is the author of more than fifty books, a Parable bestseller, and the winner of an ACFW Book of the Year Award, a Carol Award, and the Daphne du Maurier Award. She has also been a finalist for two Carol Awards and the Christy Award. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson.
Nancy delivers a spine-tingling thriller that will keep readers up all night with Cold Pursuit, book one in the Ryland & St. Clair Series. Let’s see what she has to share about his new book.
FF: Can you please tell us a little bit about your new novel, Cold Pursuit, book one in the Ryland and St. Clair Series?
River Ryland and Tony St. Clair are recovering from a run-in with the Salt River Strangler in Arizona. River has been diagnosed with PTSD, and Tony is recuperating from being shot while attempting to save River’s life. Not long after their encounter with the Strangler, River’s mother calls to ask for help. She’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. River and Tony make the decision to leave the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit in Virginia, and head to St. Louis, where River’s mother lives. River moves in with her mother, and she and Tony open a private detective agency. Tony is certain they can make a go of it, but River isn’t convinced. They finally get a case, a mother whose only son disappeared several years ago. The police have given up, but River and Tony decide to help the distraught mother, even though they’re certain the boy is dead. As they begin their search for the truth, they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of two killers who will stop at nothing until they’re dead.
FF: What inspired the idea behind a series that would center around cold cases? Is that the connecting element between each novel in this series?
I’d never written about cold cases before and wanted to try it. Yes, the cold cases not only connect the books, but thanks to a great idea from my editor, I’m setting all the stories in winter so they’re not just cold, they’re very, very cold. LOL!
FF: Your two main protagonists River Ryland and Tony St. Clair are not just friends—they were once partners at the FBI. What kind of history do these two have?
River and Tony were both part of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. Analysts at the BAU are usually safe since they work behind closed doors, but a call from a friend led them to the banks of the Salt River where the Strangler tried to end their lives. Now, besides their shared history, they must work together to recover from their traumatic encounter. Their experiences have bonded them in a way that most people can’t understand. In St. Louis, they are attempting to start their lives over together. They are not just friends—they are best friends.
FF: As former FBI analysts, River and Tony have unique job experience. What kind of research was required to portray these characters and their occupations?
I’m blessed to have the help of a retired FBI Behavioral Analyst. The first book she advised me on was Mind Games. She’s helped me through two series now and will also advise me on this one. Because of her expertise, I was able to create believable characters while keeping abreast of proper FBI procedures. I couldn’t have written any of these books without her.
FF: What was the most interesting thing you learned during your research for this novel?
One of my main characters has a trait called synesthesia. It’s a fascinating condition that causes the senses to become jumbled. For example, some words may evoke aromas or colors. My character not only has this trait, but he also suffers from schizophrenia. The two conditions combine to make him a very disturbed individual who is triggered by his anger and the color red. Of course, neither one of these diagnoses causes violent episodes. The character’s own pattern of thinking has led him to become dangerous to others.
FF: PTSD is a very serious condition and one that River Ryland battles after a case gone wrong. How do we see her development throughout the book as she struggles to overcome it?
River was raised in a very religious family. Her parents were terribly legalistic, and it turned her away from God. When she is about to die at the hands of the Strangler, she cries out to Him, but after she is rescued, she once again turns her back. She deals with a lot of guilt over her decision, and wonders if God will ever give her another chance. Tony, who is a Christian, teaches her who God really is, and slowly but surely, she begins to see Him as Someone who loves her unconditionally. Through His love, she is beginning to heal from her past and the trauma she’s endured.
FF: How is this series different from other romantic suspense novels you’ve written?
This is the first novel I’ve written about retired FBI agents. Also, it’s my first book about a private detective agency. I love learning new things, so this has been fun.
FF: Can you share what you’re working on next?
I just wrote book two in the series, Cold Threat, and am plotting out book three, Cold Vengeance. These books will continue River and Tony’s story. I hope readers will enjoy them.
Ryland & St. Clair Series #1
Genres: Mystery/Suspense, Romantic Suspense
Release Date: July 11, 2023
Ex-FBI profiler River Ryland still suffers from PTSD after a case went horribly wrong. Needing a fresh start, she moves to St. Louis to be near her ailing mother and opens a private investigation firm with her friend and former FBI partner, Tony St. Clair. They’re soon approached by a grieving mother who wants them to find out what happened to her teenaged son, who disappeared four years ago. River knows there’s almost no hope the boy is still alive, but his mother needs closure, and River and Tony need a case, no matter how cold it might be.
But as they follow the boy’s trail, which gets more complicated at every turn, they find themselves in the path of a murderer determined to punish anyone who gets in his way. As River and Tony race to stop him before he kills again, an even more dangerous threat emerges, stirring up the past that haunts River and plotting an end to her future.
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