Always Time to Die

Always Time to Die

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by Elizabeth Lowell

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With her trademark electrifying storytelling and razor-sharp tension, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell proves once again why she is one of today's top masters of suspense -- in a riveting tale of dark family secrets ready to explode with the devastating force of a Southwestern earthquake.

The powerful Quintrell family of New Mexico has

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With her trademark electrifying storytelling and razor-sharp tension, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell proves once again why she is one of today's top masters of suspense -- in a riveting tale of dark family secrets ready to explode with the devastating force of a Southwestern earthquake.

The powerful Quintrell family of New Mexico has spent decades in the public eye. Now the recent death of the clan's patriarch, a former U.S. senator, has placed his son, Governor Josh Quintrell, squarely in the spotlight as he prepares his run for the highest political office in the land. It is not a good time to be rattling skeletons in the family's closets.

Researching personal histories isn't just Carolina "Carly" May's profession, it's her passion. When the governor's eccentric Aunt Winifred invites Carly into the Quintrells' private Taos compound to compile a genealogical record of the illustrious residents, she can hardly believe her good luck. But digging into the past is raising troubling questions about the would-be president's private life, his late father and catatonic mother, and the grisly street crime that left his notorious drug-addicted sister dead. And it soon becomes frighteningly apparent that the motivation of the dotty old woman who hired Carly might be something more akin to revenge -- and that someone is determined to remove the inquisitive genealogist from the picture by any means necessary.

As a dark world of twisted passions and depraved crimes slowly opens up before Carly, she realizes that there is no one whom she dares to trust -- perhaps least of all Dan Duran, a dangerous and haunted mystery man who's somehow tied to the Quintrells' past. But she will need an ally to survive the terrible secrets a father carried to the grave and an even more devastating evil that lurks among the living -- because following the bloodlines of the wealthy and power-hungry can be a bloody business ... and some dead secrets can kill.

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Editorial Reviews

Charlotte News & Observer
Elizabeth Lowell’s keen ear for dialogue and intuitive characterization consistently place her a cut above most writers in this genre.
Publishers Weekly
Ann Maxwell has written over 60 books in multiple genres; as Elizabeth Lowell (Die in Plain Sight), she creates dialogue with immediacy and emotional coloration that sets her apart from the romantic suspense pack. Her 10th outing as Lowell begins with the tidy murder of "The Senator," the ill and infirm patriarch of a prominent Taos, N.Mex., clan. Carly May, a genealogist/historical researcher, is commissioned to write a family history by a disgruntled family member who hopes she'll dig up dirt. As Carly's research starts in earnest, she meets, among the Senator's many legitimate and illegitimate children, Dan Duran, a former CIA-like operative who, she finds out (but the reader knows all along), is the Senator's illegitimate grandson. Carly gets dire threats, she and Dan get close, and more people die. By combining new techniques of DNA testing with old-fashioned research and detective work (lots of appealing New Mexican history comes into play), Carly and Dan finally discover the truth about the family. But readers will care less about that than about their many charming exchanges, which Lowell crafts with sophistication and a sense of play. Quality and quantity may not be mutually exclusive after all. (July 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
As the sun begins to rise over Taos, NM, the already failing Andrew Jackson Quintrell III is murdered in his bed. Quintrell, also known as the Senator, is at the center of a controversy that pits his relatives against genealogist and family history specialist Carolina (Carly) May. The Senator's sister-in-law, Winifred Simmons y Castillo, has hired Carly to trace the Castillo lineage. It seems the Senator was quite the ladies' man (read: lecher), and numerous illegitimate offspring are ferreted out in the process. Mysterious local Dan Duran helps Carly research town newspaper archives, igniting a romantic spark among the rolls of microfilm. Lowell (Moving Target) seems to have lost her flare for drama and emotional depth, instead relying on drug smuggling, blackmail, political power-brokering, murder (several), and multigenerational incest to make up for a barely-there plot and wholly irredeemable characters. The genealogy angle becomes so tangled that readers will need to construct their own charts to follow who did what to whom-if they even care. Yet, Lowell fans are loyal; they'll probably request this. Otherwise, not recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/05.]-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A mayhem-on-the-mesa mystery by mega-selling genre author Lowell (The Color of Death, 2004, etc.). Carly May is a genealogist who can read a mitochondrial DNA sequencing chart as readily as she can sort out a family tree. Dan Duran is a lone ranger type, a New Mexico native skilled at following money as it flows in and out of the pockets of crooks and bad guys. (He's also, it turns out, skilled at giving lonely genealogists what no man has ever done before.) The two find themselves together in the wake, literally, of a senator and local grandee who has, it seems, fathered half of northern New Mexico's population, and not always with the legal consent of the mother. The senator's widow knows a story or two, as does her sister, who didn't much approve of the old man-among whose offspring are some surprises, as well as an apple-of-the-eye grandson ("The Senator kept seeing himself in you, smiling at the thought of you drinking and screwing your way through life") and a presumptive heir now ready to trade governorship of the state up to the presidency. This dysfunctional extended family is only dimly aware that it's family, but it's keenly aware of the Chinatown-like secrets that are not for outsiders to know, and Carly is an outsider extraordinaire in clannish Taos. At first it's a little vandalism of her SUV office-on-wheels, "shreds and chunks of tread . . . scattered around like pieces of black flesh." Then it's a recorded greeting-card warning her to split. Then it's a bullet whistling in her direction. Who would go to such lengths, and to protect what information? Therein hangs Lowell's tale, full of mostly accurate local color and never quite predictable. Suffice it to say that readersconvinced that the only way to look at a politician is down aren't going to have their minds changed here. Skillfully handled entertainment, with a bonus in reader-friendly lessons in how to launder money, spike a drink and read a genomics report.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Romantic suspense is her true forte.”
Romantic Times BOOKclub
“There is no finer guarantee of outstanding romance than the name of Elizabeth Lowell.”
Romantic TimesBOOKclub
"There is no finer guarantee of outstanding romance than the name of Elizabeth Lowell."

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

Always Time to Die

Chapter One

Near Taos
Sunday Morning

Two men squinted against the wind and stared down at the Quintrell family graveyard. It lay a few hundred yards below and six hundred feet away from the base of the long, ragged ridge where they stood. A white wrought-iron fence enclosed the graveyard, as though death could be kept away from the living by such a simple thing.

At the edge of the valley, piñons grew black against a thin veneer of snow. Cottonwood branches along the valley creek had been stripped by winter to their thin, pale skin. In the black-and-white landscape, a ragged rectangle and a nearby tarp-covered mound of loose red dirt looked out of place. Three ravens squatted on the tarp like guests waiting to be served. A polished casket hovered astride the newly dug grave, ready to be lowered at a signal from the minister.

The first of the funeral procession drove up and stopped outside the ornate white fence. There wouldn't be many cars, because the graveside service was limited to clergy and immediate members of the Senator's family. The public service had been yesterday, in Santa Fe, complete with a media circus where the famous and the merely notorious exchanged Cheshire cat grins and firm handshakes and careful lies while the smell of dying flowers overwhelmed the stately cathedral.

Automatically Daniel Duran looked over his shoulder, checking that his silhouette was still invisible from below, lost against a tall pine. It was. So was his father's.

He and John weren't famous or notorious. They hadn't been invited to either the memorial or funeral service for the dead maneveryone called the Senator. The lack of invitations didn't matter to Dan. He wouldn't have gone anyway.

So why am I here?

It was a good question. He didn't have an answer. He wasn't even sure he wanted one.

The wind rushing down from the harsh peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains tasted of snow and distance and the kind of time that made most people uncomfortable. Deep time. Unimaginable time. Time so great it reduced humanity to an amusing footnote in Earth's four-billion-year history.

Dan liked that kind of time. Humans were amusing. Laughable. It was the only way to stay sane.

And that was something he'd promised himself he wouldn't think about for a few months. Staying sane.

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, chances are you don't understand the situation. Why else would ignorance be called bliss?

With a grim smile he turned so that his injured leg didn't take the force of the brutal wind.

"You should have stayed hom e," John Duran said.

Dan gave his father a sidelong look. "The exercise is good formy leg."

"That old man never acknowledged you or your mother as kin. Hell, he barely acknowledged his own legitimate daughter."

Dan shrugged and let the wind comb dark hair he hadn't bothered to have cut in months. "I don't take it personally. He never acknowledged any of his bastards."

"So why bother hiking here for the Senator's funeral? And don't waste your breath on the exercise excuse. You could do laps around the Taos town square with a lot less trouble."

For a time there was only the sound of the ice-tipped wind scouring the ridge. Finally Dan said, "I don't know."

John grunted. He doubted that his fiercely bright son didn't know why they were freezing their nuts off on Castillo Ridge watching one of New Mexico's most famous womanizers get buried. Then again, maybe Dan truly didn't know.

"You sure?" John asked.


"Well, that's the most hopeful thing that's happened since you turned up three months ago."

Once, Dan would have smiled, but that was before pain had etched his face and cynicism had eroded his soul. "How so?"

"You cared about something enough to walk three miles in the snow."

Dan's dark brown eyebrows lifted. "Have I been that bad?"

"No," his father said slowly. "But you're different. Much less smile. Toomuch steel. Less laughter.More silence. Too old to be thirty-four."

Dan didn't argue. It was the truth.

"It's more than the injury," John said, waving at his son's right leg, where metal and pain had exploded through flesh. "Muscle and bone heals. Emotions . . ." He sighed. "Well, they take longer. And sometimes they just don't heal at all."

"You're thinking of Mom and whatever happened with her mother."

John nodded. "She still doesn't talk about it."

"Good for her." I hope.

"You didn't feel that way a few years ago."

"A few years ago I didn't understand about sleeping dogs and land mines. Now I do."

And that's what was bothering Dan. The Senator's sister-in-law Winifred was running around kicking sleeping dogs right and left. Sooner or later she would step on a land mine and wake up something so brutal that his own mother had never once spoken of it, even to the man she loved.

Silently the two men watched the shiny white hearse wait next to the graveyard's wide gate. The couple in the rear seat, Josh Quintrell and his wife Anne, waited for the driver to open their doors. Their son, A.J. V, called Andy, got out and turned his back to the windblown snow. When his parents stepped into the gray daylight, their clothes were as black as the ravens perched on the graveside tarp.

A second car pulled up close to the hearse. As soon as it stopped, a tall, lanky woman emerged into the bitter wind with just enough hesitation to show her age. The iron gray of her hair beneath a black lace mantilla marked her as Winifred Simmons y Castillo, sister-in-law to the dead Senator, and a woman who in more than seven decades hadn't found a man -- or anything else -- she couldn't live without.

Always Time to Die. Copyright © by Elizabeth Lowell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Always Time to Die 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
MarianHood More than 1 year ago
This historical romance is one of my all-time favorites. It was a 'can't put it down' read the first time, and remains pleasurably re-readable years later. I love it for many reasons: Kinsale's rich use of language throughout, but especially for the hero's point of view after his stroke, when he can't remember the words for things. She conveys his frustration so well; and it's a neat technical trick, to convey wordlessness in writing! I love the characters, too: Plain Archimedea Timms, caring for her worthy, blind father the mathematician and hoping only for a garden of her own, someday. Arrogant Christian, Duke of Jervaulx, so good at so many things, except being good... until he is brought low by fate (aka: a good writer). And the Duke's friends, who are his allies, and his family, who are the villains, except for his starchy Aunt... I love it for the unlikely romance between the Duke and the Quaker girl, taken in unexpected directions. And I love it for the widening scope of the story: each turning point increases the jeopardy for ALL the characters, not just the heroes. And I love it for Kinsale's use of religion as a source of conflict, and of personal honor, and of growth. And I love it because there is no chapter, no page, no paragraph, no sentence, no word of this book that strikes a wrong note. Every bit of it is a joy to read and to savor, on the page and in memory.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not really surprised that there aren't more 5 stars, because this story is complicated and real! These characters STRUGGLE, but I think it makes their relationship more believable and rewarding. These aren't two fluffy headed Brits meeting during the season and chasing each other over on the mall. This is a man who has hit bottom and can either give in to oblivion or fight. I can honestly say that I don't know if I even liked the hero for most of the story. He was a jerk and acted dishonorably in the beginning of the story, but he certainly earned my respect at the end (notice how I mentioned respect...I'm still not sure I like the guy). At first I was surprised that these two characters got together (a Quaker and a nobleman?), but I've had some time to reflect and read beyond their superficial character descriptions to the strong wills that both of these characters have and need to be together. Great read! If you're tired of non-sense fluff try Mrs. Kinsale
romancefanWI More than 1 year ago
The plot was well-thought out and very unusual for a romance novel. But it worked well and the chemistry between the characters was great. I'd recommend you check this one out.
JoieH More than 1 year ago
The portrayal of the stroke victim's recovery was very well written. The weakness of the heroine was quite frustrating more often than not. However, the final show of strength of character of both individuals was satisfying and heart-warming.
Anonymous 16 days ago
For so many reasons. I read a lot of romantic historical fiction these days, but Ive also read and re-read many of the classics by Dickens, Trollope, Austen, Steinbeck etc....the list goes on. I love good writing and I like escaping the technological age, so I find myself drawn to the 1800s, that seems to be my favorite era. Oh, and I do like romance I must admit, but much of the romantic fiction I read or have read is not particularly well written. This is why I am thrilled to find a writer like Laura Kinsale!!! I am completely caught up in the story and struggle of the characters, the romantic tension between them is the icing on the far, I havent even gotten through half of the book! I will probably write another review once Ive finished reading, but so impressed am I that I just had to express my suprise and happiness to find a writer like this in the romance genre. To be continued...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maddy was so annoying, i wanted to pull my hair out! I love strong female characters but maddy took things to a frustrating level- she went from wanting to save christian to being totally aweful to him and he didnt even deserve it! This book started out really good but i got tired of her irrational resistance and rejection of his love and the way she refused to help him recover- it was cruel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
so, so, so very good. incredibly thoughtful, evocative, and memorable. one of the best books i've ever read, not just romances.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So in love
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love most of Laura Kinsale's work. This book I have read four makes me cry, laugh....even read outloud in places because I cant help it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is so beautiful, real and inspiring I could re-read it many times and never get tired of it. I never review books, but I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this one. Don't hesitate and buy it. You won't regret it.
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LinMarie More than 1 year ago
Another great read if you love it all: mystery, suspense, a compelling story and great characters!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Avid_ReaderLL More than 1 year ago
My first clue I wouldn't like this book should have been the genealogy chart in the beginning explaining the characters of the Quintrell/Castillo families. Sadly, I referred back often trying to keep all the characters straight in my head. There are too many characters in this book, some of which just fade away and you never figure out why they needed to be there in the first place. It was hard to keep track of who was related to who and why that was important. All the info about DNA analysis and what it all means should be in a college textbook. When the big "ta-da" moment came, you needed to understand all the DNA info to get it. I admit I needed the epilogue of the book to explain it all to me. The romance aspect wasn't even exciting. Overall, I finished this book, but it was a disappointment. I would not recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago