Nancy Mehl is the author of over fifty books, a Parable bestseller, as well as 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.

In this interview, Nancy discusses her latest book, Cold Vengeance.

FF: Can you tell us a little about your new novel, Cold Vengeance?
River Ryland and Tony St. Clair left their jobs as behavioral analysts with the FBI after being attacked and left for dead by a vicious serial killer known as the Salt River Strangler. Now they run a private detective agency. Their newest case, a search for a missing cold case podcaster, throws them into the path of a killer determined to keep his secret—no matter what. They’re also being watched by a man who assisted the Strangler, adding several deaths to his horrifying toll. The man plans to finish what the Strangler started—the death of River Ryland. With time running out, River and Tony will put their hearts and lives on the line to bring a kidnapped girl home and finally deliver justice to a depraved murderer.

FF: Can you share the inspiration behind the Ryland & St. Clair Series and what drew you to the world of romantic suspense novels?
I love writing stories about people who work for the FBI, especially those in the Behavioral Analysis Unit. However, getting everything right is tough. The FBI has lots of rules and those who work in the BAU don’t usually go out in the field. I decided that having two special agents leave the FBI and open a detective agency would open up more possibilities for my plots.

As far as writing romantic suspense, even as a child, I loved mystery and suspense novels. So of course, when I decided to start writing, it’s what I gravitated toward. I love the kind of conflict and tension that keeps readers on the edge of their seats!

FF: In Cold Vengeance, your characters face a relentless enemy. How do you approach building and maintaining suspense throughout the whole novel?
I believe less is more when keeping readers engaged. I try to bring the tension down and then drop it in when readers least expect it. To me, it’s like a roller coaster ride. There should be twists and turns, but they won’t be effective unless there’s some straight track built into your ride. In Cold Vengeance I keep reminding readers that my characters are being stalked, and that the man who wants to kill them is biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment. I do this by including his POV (point of view), so they have knowledge my main characters don’t have. If done effectively, I think this can really ramp up the tension.

FF: River and Tony have faced a lot together in this series and continue to do so in this book. What elements of their characters and relationship make them such a strong pair?
They built a relationship when they worked together at the FBI. Although River’s past causes her to put up walls of protection, her friendship with Tony eventually builds trust. When confronted by the Salt River Strangler, Tony risks his own life to save hers. After PTSD forces River out of the job she loves and her mother calls and asks for help after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Tony doesn’t think twice about pulling up stakes and moving to St, Louis with her. It’s his idea to open a private investigation agency so that they can continue to use their training and create a future for themselves. Tony is able to lead River to a relationship with the Lord and from there they are finally able to confess their love for each other.

FF: Podcasting and true crime are prevalent topics in this book. What sort of research did that entail? Are you a true crime junkie?
I read a lot of true crime books and watch some documentaries on TV. As far as the cold case podcaster, I researched several different podcasts. I also asked a friend who is a podcaster for information. He was really helpful.

FF: Nancy, your readers are dedicated and appreciative of your robust characters. What is important to you when crafting characters in your novels?
I want characters that my readers will connect to. I try to make them relatable and imperfect. People have asked me if I’m in any of my characters. The truth is, I’m in all of them. I think we’ve all run through the gamut of emotions and experiences that can be used to help create characters that people can understand.

FF: Will you tell us a little about the overarching themes of the series and the story arc that builds with the addition of each Ryland & St. Clair Series novel? How did you seek to tie them up in Cold Vengeance?
I think the main themes of the series are how how much God loves us and how forgiving He is. River Ryland has been angry at God ever since her pastor father left his wife and children for another woman. Then, when River is attacked by the Strangler, she calls out to God, promising to follow Him if He will save her. But once she recovers, she reneges on that promise. Now, River is convinced that God will never forgive her for not keeping the oath she made. God uses Tony to show her how much He really loves her and that He is more than willing to forgive her. This causes her to finally trust in His love and come back into fellowship with Him.

The story arc begins with River and Tony building their private investigation agency after leaving the FBI. They are both healing physically and emotionally after their confrontation with the Strangler. As they try to navigate the past and build a future, their relationship will change, and they will have to learn how to react to their new circumstances—as well as to each other. Also, in book one, Cold Pursuit, they discover that the Strangler has a partner who is determined to confront and kill River, since she is the only woman to ever survive one of the Strangler’s assaults. The resolution of this arc will be completed in the final book, Cold Vengeance.

FF: Your writing is often compared to the work of acclaimed authors like Terri Blackstock and Colleen Coble. How do you feel about these comparisons, and how have these authors influenced your own writing?
I love being compared to these awesome writers! I’m not sure how much they’ve influenced my writing, but if I picked up anything from them, it certainly made me better.

FF: With Cold Vengeance wrapping up the Ryland & St. Clair Series, what can your readers look forward to in your future writing projects? Are there any new themes or genres you plan to explore?
I don’t plan to change genres, however, I will certainly deal with some new themes. I’m really excited about an upcoming series that will bring back Kaely Quinn, a popular character in a previous series.

Cold Vengeance
Ryland & St. Clair Series #3
Nancy Mehl
Bethany House
Genres: Mystery/Suspense, Romantic Suspense
Release Date: July 16, 2024

ISBN-10: ‎0764240471
ISBN-13: ‎978-0764240478

Book Summary:
When a renowned crime podcaster vanishes without a trace, former FBI behavioral analysts turned private investigators River Ryland and Tony St. Clair are called upon to track her down. As they wade through the evidence she left behind, they unearth a startling connection—she may have discovered the existence of an unknown killer, and he will stop at nothing to carry out a deadly plan.

As the pair delves deeper, they soon find themselves the targets of a relentless enemy determined to silence them. With their lives–and hearts—on the line, can they confront the evil that threatens them before it consumes them both?


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About The Author

The author of more than thirty books, Nancy Mehl received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson.